The Most Precious Blood of Jesus| Saint Junipero Serra| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of The Most Precious Blood of Jesus. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
To understand the devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we should look carefully at the meaning of blood and blood that is shed. By doing this, we can then consider the meaning of the shedding of the Precious Blood of Christ.
We all know that blood is biologically part of our body. However, blood is also intimately associated with the vital element of the individual as a person. That is why we give to the Blood of Christ all the adoration due to Christ Himself.
Our blood is naturally meant to be inside the body. Hence, every time we bleed, it is something of an unnatural or catastrophic nature. Many illnesses, for example, are perceived by bleeding caused by some malfunction inside the body. Bleeding is almost a sign of alarm, which because of its violence, calls attention to the fact that something is terribly wrong with the person.
Besides illnesses, bleeding also calls to mind fighting and crime. For example, the idea of bloodshed instantly calls to mind the blood of Abel, shed by Cain and which, according to Scripture, rose to God clamoring for vengeance. When blood is shed by crime, we sense a profound violence applied to the body that conveys the idea of something unjust, brutal and iniquitous which profoundly disturbs an existing order and clamors to God for the reestablishment of order.
When we consider the infinitely Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, many things come to mind. We think of that blood begotten in the womb of Our Lady. We think of that Blood that was shed, leaving His Body from whence it should never have left. That Blood, like everything else in the Body of Christ, is in hypostatic union with Him and when it leaves His sacred Body, it is as if symbolizing all the dignity of that Body.
We might compare this departure to the juice that comes from the grape to make up wine. That juice represents the essence of the grape, all the best the grape has to give. So also Our Lord’s Blood represents the best of blood – the blood of David, the blood of Mary, the Blood of God-Man.
Through a series of unspeakable, violent deicidal actions, that Blood was shed in the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the cross, and torments of all kinds. That Blood was shed by the great anguish of soul when Our Lord, in His agony, began to suffer and sweat blood all over His Body.
That Blood shed and falling on the ground clamorously attests to the insult made to the God-Man. It is a manifestation of how far human wickedness can go. It is a manifestation of the mystery of iniquity. We see in that Blood how much God tolerates. We are reminded how fallen human nature in this valley of tears (above all when guided by sin and the devil) is capable of going to the extremes of evil shrinking from nothing.
These considerations should lead us to always be extremely suspicious towards evil. We should follow Our Lord’s precept: “Watch and pray.” Our suspicions are based on the fact that evil is capable of the worst infamies. One can expect everything from it. Thus, we should do great violence to ourselves to fight against it. We should avoid all drowsiness, foolish optimism or procrastination in face of evil. Indeed, failing to combat evil is a true crime since we see that if evil was capable of such horrible acts against Our Lord, it is capable of everything. Evil calls unto other evils and can go to the very depths of all evil.
Looking at this bloodshed, we should note that the mercy of God wanted all that Blood to be shed with unheard-of abundance. All the blood in the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ was shed, as if to show that He gave us everything, without holding back even one drop, because of His immense desire to save us. One drop of His blood would have sufficed, yet He shed all His blood to the point that the last drops were mixed with water that left His Side when Longinus pierced His Heart with the lance. He wanted to hold nothing back in order to redeem us.
This superabundance of blood, suffering and offering up of self recalls Our Lord’s words: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Considering the devotion to the Most Precious Blood, we might say: “Greater love than this no man hath, than He who gave His life for us.”
However, He did even more than just giving His life. He wished to suffer death from the beatings, anguish and the shedding of every drop of blood in His sacred Body. In this sense, every drop of blood is like a tiny death, for it is a drop of life that goes away. He wanted to go through all these “deaths” to show how infinite was His friendship for us.
Such considerations lead us to confide in His mercy. If He so wanted to save us, we should understand that we might cover ourselves in His Blood and present ourselves to the Eternal Father.
Begging forgiveness thus covered in His Blood, we should confide that we can obtain it. On the other hand, we must consider how horrible is the eternal destiny of the damned. If Our Lord suffered all these torments to spare us from eternal doom, then this damnation is a very serious thing. So let us meditate on the depths of Hell by considering a drop of the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This inevitably leads us to other considerations. First, we must see how the Blood of Christ calls to mind the tears of Mary, shed along with the Blood of Christ. Our Lord did not want Our Lady to shed any drop of her own blood. He allowed all types of torments against Himself but forbade the powers of evil from raising even a finger against His Immaculate Mother.
Thus, she suffered no physical torments. None of her blood was shed on behalf of humanity, nor would it have had the redeeming force of the infinitely precious Blood of Christ. The entire Redemption would come specifically from the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
However, Our Lady did shed a kind of blood: Her tears. It would serve as only a kind of complement to Our Lord’s Blood. We can say that tears are the blood of the soul. She suffered all the pain of His death and shed tears. That is why it is impossible to think about the Blood of Christ without at the same time considering the tears of Mary that were joined to that Blood and constituted the first tribute of Christendom to complete the part of His Passion that God wanted to be completed – with the suffering of the faithful – so that souls would be saved in great numbers.
Finally, we should think about the Holy Eucharist. The Blood of Christ was shed in streets, squares, Pilate’s palace and on top of Mount Calvary. That Blood of Christ is found entirely in the Holy Eucharist. How many times we have received this Blood of Christ in us.
Thus, as we receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we should remember this. We are receiving this Precious Blood, shed for us. Inside us, it is like the blood of Abel, not to clamor for punishment against us, but to clamor for mercy for us. So let us receive the Eucharist with great confidence and joy, as we receive the Blood of Christ that rises to Heaven clamoring for mercy on our behalf.
Saint Junipero Serra
In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard.
Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World.
Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there.
Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last twoconquistadors—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived.
Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death.
Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans.
Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns.
Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.
The word that best describes Junipero is zeal. It was a spirit that came from his deep prayer and dauntless will. “Always forward, never back” was his motto. His work bore fruit for 50 years after his death as the rest of the missions were founded in a kind of Christian communal living by the Indians. When both Mexican and American greed caused the secularization of the missions, the Chumash people went back to what they had been—God again writing straight with crooked lines.
During his homily at Serra’s beatification, Blessed John Paul II said: “Relying on the divine power of the message he proclaimed, Father Serra led the native peoples to Christ. He was well aware of their heroic virtues—as exemplified in the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha [July 14]—and he sought to further their authentic human development on the basis of their new-found faith as persons created and redeemed by God. He also had to admonish the powerful, in the spirit of our second reading from James, not to abuse and exploit the poor and the weak.”
Junípero Serra, the founder of the Missions, which were the first settlements of civilized man in California, was born on the island of Majorca, part of the kingdom of Spain, on the 24th of November, 1713. At the age of sixteen, he became a Monk of the order of St. Francis, and the new name of Junípero was then substituted for his baptismal name of Miguel José. After entering the convent, he went through a collegiate course of study, and before he had received the degree of Doctor, was appointed lecturer upon philosophy. He became a noted preacher, and was frequently invited to visit the larger towns of his native island in that capacity.
Junípero was thirty-six years of age when he determined to become a missionary in the New World. In 1749 he crossed the ocean in company with a number of Franciscan Monks, among them several who afterward came with him to California. He remained but a short time in the City of Mexico, and was soon sent a missionary to the Indians in the Sierra Madre, in the district now known as the State of San Luis Potosi. He spent nine years there, and then returned to the City of Mexico where he stayed for seven years, in the Convent of San Fernando.
In 1767, when he was fifty-four years of age, he was appointed to the charge of the Missions to be established in Upper California. He arrived at San Diego in 1769, and, with the exception of one journey to Mexico, he spent all the remainder of his life here. He died at the Mission [San Carlos Borromeo] of Carmel, near Monterey, on the 28th of August, 1784, aged seventy- one years.
Our knowledge of his character is derived almost exclusively from his biography by Palou, who was also a native of Majorca, a brother Franciscan Monk, had been his disciple, came across the Atlantic with him, was his associate in the college of San Fernando, his companion in the expedition to California, his successor in the Presidency of the Missions of Old California, his subordinate afterward in New California, his attendant at his death-bed, and his nearest friend for forty years or more. Under the circumstances, Palou had the right to record the life of his preceptor and superior.
Junípero Serra, as we ascertain his character directly and inferentially in his biography, was a man to whom his religion was every thing. All his actions were governed by the ever-present and predominant idea that life is a brief probation, trembling between eternal perdition on one side, and salvation on the other. Earth for its own sake, had no joys for him. His soul did not recognize this life as its home. He turned with dislike from nearly all the sources of pleasure in which the polished society of our age delights. As a Monk he had, in boyhood renounced the joys of love, and the attractions of woman’s society. The conversation of his own sex was not a source of amusement. He was habitually serious. Laughter was inconsistent with the terrible responsibilities of his probationary existence. Not a joke or a jovial action is recorded of him. He delighted in no joyous books. Art or poetry never served to sharpen his wits, lighten his spirit, or solace his weary moments. The sweet devotional poems of Fray Luis de Leon, and the delicate humor of Cervantes, notwithstanding the perfect piety of both, were equally strange to him. He knew nothing of the science and philosophy which threw all enlightened nations into fermentation a hundred years ago. The rights of man and the birth of chemistry did not withdraw his fixed gaze from the other world, which formed the constant subject of his contemplation.
It was not sufficient for him to abstain from positive pleasure; he considered it his duty to inflict upon himself bitter pain. He ate little, avoided meat and wine, preferred fruit and fish, never complained of the quality of his food, nor sought to have it more savory. He often lashed himself with ropes, sometimes of wire; he was in the habit of beating himself in the breast with stones, and at times he put a burning torch to his breast. These things he did while preaching or at the close of his sermons, his purpose being, as his biographer says, “not only to punish himself but also to move his auditory to penitence for their own sins.”
We translate the following incident, which occurred during a sermon which he delivered in Mexico, the precise date and place are not given:
“Imitating his devout San Francisco Solano, he drew out a chain, and letting his habit fall below his shoulders, after having exhorted his auditory to penance, he began to beat himself so cruelly that all the spectators were moved to tears, and one man rising up from among them, went with all haste to the pulpit and took the chain from the penitent father, came down with it to the platform of the presbiterio, and following the example of the venerable preacher, he bared himself to the waist and began to do public penance, saying with tears and sobs, ‘I am the sinner, ungrateful to God, who ought to do penance for my many sins, and not the father who is a saint.’ So cruel and pitiless were the blows, that, in the sight of all the people, he fell down, they supposing him to be dead. The last unction and sacrament were administered to him there, and soon afterward that he died. We may believe with pious faith, that this soul is enjoying the presence of God.”
Serra, and his biographer, did not receive the Protestant doctrine, that there have been no miracles since the Apostolic age. They imagined that the power possessed by the chief disciples of Jesus had been inherited by the Catholic priests of their time, and they saw wonders where their contemporary clergymen, like Conyers, Middleton, and Priestly, saw nothing save natural mistakes. Palou records the following story, with unquestioning faith:
“When he [Serra] was traveling with a party of missionaries through the province of Huasteca [in Mexico], many of the villagers did not go to hear the word of God at the first village where they stopped; but scarcely had the fathers left the place when it was visited by an epidemic, which carried away sixty villagers, all of whom, as the curate of the place wrote to the reverend father Junípero, were persons who had not gone to hear the missionaries. The rumor of the epidemic having gone abroad, the people in other villages were dissatisfied with their curates for admitting the missionaries; but when they heard that only those died who did not listen to the sermons, they became very punctual, not only the villagers, but the country people dwelling upon ranchos many leagues distant.
“Their apostolic labors having been finished, they were upon their way back, and at the end of a few days’ journey, when the sun was about to set, they knew not where to spend the night, and considered it certain that they must sleep upon the plain. They were thinking about this when they saw near the road a house, whither they went and solicited lodging. They found a venerable man, with his wife and child, who received them with much kindness and attention, and gave them supper. In the morning, the Fathers thanked their hosts, and taking leave, pursued their way. After having gone a little distance they met some muleteers, who asked them where they had passed the night. When the place was described, the muleteers declared that there was no such house or ranche near the road, or within many leagues. The missionaries attributed to Divine Providence the favor of that hospitality, and believed without doubt that these hosts were Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, reflecting not only about the order and cleanness of the house (though poor), and the affectionate kindness with which they had been received, but also about the extraordinary internal consolation which their hearts had felt there.”
Serra’s religious conviction found in him a congenial mental constitution. He was even- tempered, temperate, obedient, zealous, kindly in speech, humble and quiet. His cowl covered neither greed, guile, hypocrisy, nor pride. he had no quarrels and made no enemies. He sought to be a monk, and he was one in sincerity. Probably few have approached nearer to the ideal perfection of a monkish life than he. Even those who think that he made great mistakes of judgment in regard to the nature of existence and the duties of man to society, must admire his earnest, honest and good character.
A Joyful Heart:
The best way to show your gratitude to God and to people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.-- Mother Teresa
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
The desire to be in eternal; peace is good and holy, but you must moderate this wish with complete resignation to divine will.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Two: 112-188
We now enter into Notebook Two of the six notebooks that make up the Diary of Saint Faustina. The reason for having more than one notebook is simply that when one notebook was filled by Saint Faustina she began with a new one. Therefore, there is nothing particularly different from one notebook to the other. However, for the purpose of this current book of daily reflections, each reflection will begin to be lengthened, starting here with Notebook Two, so as to help you, the reader, enter more deeply into the beautiful mysteries of faith and our shared spiritual life that have been revealed in these writings of Saint Faustina.
You are invited once again to take one reflection each day and to ponder it throughout the day. Try to pray the prayer for each reflection each morning, noon and evening. Allow each mystery reflected upon to become a source of wisdom and understanding for you.
Reflection 182: Wisdom to Penetrate the Secrets of Pride
Pride can consume us. When it does, all we think about is ourselves and our own pain. Perhaps you can relate to this. Maybe you’ve encountered a wound and you sit and sulk over that wound. It creates bitterness in your heart and you seek to heal that wound. But when this happens, it is often our pride that leads us to remedy hurt through a form of revenge, anger or self-pity. We can even fool ourselves into thinking that our desire to solve our problem and rid ourselves of the hurt is justified by God. But if you are willing to let the Lord penetrate the inner secret of your soul, you will see that your motivation in many things is your wounded pride. This is not the solution. What is needed is Mercy. Mercy solves every problem. First, you must seek Mercy from God, then you must offer it unconditionally to others. There is no other way to resolve the hurt and confusion present in your soul. This is a hard lesson to learn, but necessary (See Diary #958).
What is it that motivates you? Perhaps you have some interior obsession that you can’t seem to shake. Perhaps it lingers in your mind day and night. Be attentive to this and identify it as your own sin. Do not hesitate to humble yourself to the fullest extent and do not be afraid to take ownership of the pain you feel. Pointing the finger at another does not heal and does not remedy anything. We are solely responsible as a result of our pride. Seeing this is a grace of the Lord’s mysterious and unfathomable Mercy.
Lord, I cannot shake the anger, the hurt and the pain I feel at times. It is overwhelming and all-consuming, subtle and deceptive. But it is my sin, lurking within me drawing me from You, keeping me from true repentance. Lord, I do repent and I beg You to humble me so that I may love You with my whole being. Jesus, I trust in You.