The Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Today is the feast of the Most Precious Blood. There is a lot of imagery in today's Office of our being cleansed in Jesus' blood, which I take as an exhortation to go to confession. I think in Catherine of Siena's Dialogues she talks about Confession as being the blood of the Lamb being poured out over us for the forgiveness of our sins. Someone said that, anyway. And that is what I am reminded of by lines such as this: "Everyone that washes his soul's robe in this blood, frees it of all its filth and gives it a beauty and fragrance that immediately make him like the Angels and pleasing to his King." And the same hymn (for first vespers) exhorts us to sorrow for our oft-repeated sins: "Henceforth let no one, in fickle inconstancy, leave the path of right, but keep to the course until he reach the finishing post in triumph; and God, who assists man on his way, will give him a glorious prize."

The lessons for the second nocturn today are from a sermon of St John Chrysostom, and are a good explanation of the sacraments, contra Protestants.

Do you wish to know the power of Christ's sacred Blood? Let us then review its Old Testament antecedents, let us recall what prefigured it... that His chosen nation would be spared...God devised a visible sign that would save them. A wonderful symbol, one which vividly brings home to us the power of blood! Now the divine wrath is striking the land, now the Destroyer is hurrying to every home! What does Moses do? He says, "Slay a yearling lamb and smear the doorposts with its blood." Such advice, O Moses? It sheep blood capable of delivering a human being? Yes, he says; not, of course, because it is blood, but because it foreshadows the Blood of the Lord."
This demonstrates the types of sacraments found in the OT. The smearing of lamb's blood really did effect the salvation of the firstborns; in seeing the blood, the Lord passed over that home, not striking it with this plague. (Ex 12:13) Clearly God knew the difference between Israelites and Egyptians. He didn't need a blood marker to tell the difference. And yet, this mark of blood was a necessary part of salvation from the tenth plague. For the homes which made use of this sign, the result was the sparing of their first-born.

There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that had an Israelite failed to mark his door with blood, his son would have been saved. The antiphon at the Benedictus says, ""The blood of the Lamb will be your sign," says the Lord. "Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus no destructive blow will come upon you."" Thus no destructive sign--this establishes the causality between seeing the blood and salvation from the destructive blow. All this is demonstrative of the efficacy and necessity of this sign. How much more efficacious, how much more necessary, are the sacraments which apply the blood of the Lamb? the Lamb of whom the lambs of the Passover were naught but types, or figures?

All that are corrupted by sin's deadly infection, come to these healing streams; for if a man bathe himself at this atoning spring, purity of soul will be his.

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