The feast of the Most Precious Blood continues the mystery of redemption proper to Good Friday and to feasts such as the Holy Cross, Corpus Christi, and the Sacred Heart.
The observance was placed on the first Sunday in July by Pius IX in 1849, as the whole month is dedicated to the Precious Blood. The Breviary reform of St. Pius X assigned the feast to the present date of July 1.
In the Holy Mass, the Introit transports us to heaven, where we hear the redeemed sing their glorious thanksgiving hymn: “Thou hast redeemed us with Thy Blood…” Presently we join them, continuing with Psalm 88 in praise of God’s mercy and fidelity. To those divine attributes the Blood of Christ has certainly borne witness.
In the Collect we pray that the power of our Savior’s Blood may protect us from earthly misfortunes so that we may enjoy its fruits in heaven. The Epistle is the same as that on Passion Sunday; the blood of animals sacrificed in the temple lacked power, for that ritual was essentially prefigurative. Transcendently greater is the efficacy of Christ’s bloody sacrifice! The Gospel, identical with that on the feast of the Sacred Heart, describes the lancing of the departed Savior’s sacred side. That our Redeemer shed all His Blood during His sacred passion is attested to by an open and pierced heart!
This act, so charged with mystery, likewise implies by way of symbol the formation of the Church—through blood and water. When we begin the Sacrifice proper, we are reminded by St. Paul that not only ought we to venerate the Blood of Christ at a distance, but we should partake of it Eucharistically, as we truly do when we receive the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the sacred host at Holy Communion.
Source: Rev. Fr. P. Parsch, 1958, adapted and abridged.