July: Month of the Precious Blood of Jesus Devotion

July: Month of the Precious Blood of Jesus Devotion

It was the scene right after perhaps the most brutal episode in the movie “The Passion of the Christ”.

Jesus has just been mercilessly scourged. The Roman soldiers drag his lacerated body out of the courtyard. His Mother enters the courtyard and slowly, solemnly starts wiping the floor filled with Jesus’ blood, using white pieces of cloth. She does not seem to want to stop until all that Precious Divine Blood has been wiped from the floor and collected in her white pieces of cloth.

July: Month of the Precious Blood of Jesus 

July is traditionally dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus in the Catholic Church. This devotion has a deep and rich history, symbolizing the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ for humanity's redemption.

The devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus is an old one - in fact, as old as the Institution of the Eucharist in the Last Supper of Our Lord, when Jesus said: “This is My Body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of Me...This cup is God’s new covenant sealed with My Blood which is poured for you.” (Lk 22:19-20).

In fact, Prior to Vatican II, the Church liturgically celebrated the mystery of the Blood of Christ every July 1. Pope Paul VI eventually combined the commemoration of the Blood of Christ with that of His Body in what is know known as the Solemnity of the “Body and Blood of Christ”.

The Devotion Rekindled

The devotion, however, has received a major boost of late, particularly through a series of alleged apparitions of Our Lord to a visionary in Nigeria.

In July 1995, at the hour of Divine Mercy (3pm), Our Lord Jesus allegedly appeared for the first time to a then 17-year-old nearly illiterate teenager from Nigeria named Barnabas Nwoye. Through a series of messages and apparitions from Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and numerous saints, Barnabas was given instructions to propagate the “Precious Blood Devotion”. Bulk of the messages were received by Barnabas during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the visionary’s parish church in Enugu State, Nigeria.

While the apparitions are still currently under official Church investigation, the messages given to Barnabas were reviewed by a Theological Colmmission setup by Bishop Anthony Gbuji of Enugu State, Nigeria, and eventually given the “Nihil Obstat” - that is, “nothing contrary to Faith” can be found in the messages, and therefore the messages are approved for publication and propagation.

A Call to Honor the Precious Blood of Jesus

The devotion is a call to honor the Precious Blood of Our Lord, the price of our redemption. Jesus said to Barnabas (July 21, 1997):

“Honor my Precious Blood, O my loving children and save your souls and the whole world. Make constant devotion to My Precious Blood...My Blood is the price of salvation. Through my Precious Blood you were brought together as members of one family. My Precious Blood paid the debt of human slavery and made men adopted sons. You are no more slaves but sons. That is why I call you my children. I say to you, honor the price of your salvation.” (July 21, 1997)

The devotion is an invitation for us to adore and console Jesus in His sufferings. It encourages us to mature in our prayer life - from simply praying in order to request for favors from the Lord, to praying in order to comfort and console our Lord. Jesus laments that many people today do not even appreciate anymore the sufferings He went through for us:

“Honor the Precious Blood which men neglect...My children, learn to console me always in my agony. I suffered many tortures for your salvation...if anyone among you loves Me, let him console Me. If anyone loves Me, let him adore My Precious Blood. I will show him love he who loves Me, and show mercy to him who knows my Wounds and my Precious Blood.” (July 25, 1997)

The Ultimate Weapon Against Evil

Jesus promises that the devotion to His Precious Blood is the ultimate weapon to conquer Satan and the evil spirits: “You will be protected from the snares of the devil...My children, my Blood is a great weapon. Through My Precious Blood the Heavenly Armies won the great battle and chased the enemy away. Fight your enemy, the evil spirits, with My Precious Blood. You will win them.” (July 21, 1997).

Jesus promises salvation to those who honor His Precious Blood: “Those who love me and adore my Precious Blood will not be lost. My Precious Blood will save them.” (July 24, 1997)

A Call to Prayer

Whilst the messages to Barnabas contain many prophecies related to the End Times (many of which are consistent with other end time prophecies from numerous other apparitions such as Akita and Garabandal), Our Lord emphasizes that “the aim of this devotion is not for revelation but to teach the world how to pray.” (July 20, 1997).

The devotion, therefore, is a call for prayer - a deeper level of prayer in keeping with the seriousness of the moral and spiritual crisis gripping the world. The prayers, invocations, hymns and choruses dictated by Jesus to Barnabas from 1997-2001 constitute the Precious Blood devotion. The prayers have the imprimatur of Reverend Fr. Ayo Maria, Bishop of Illorin Diocese, Nigeria (June 17th 2000).

The centerpiece of the devotion is the “Chaplet of the Precious Blood” which Jesus encourages people to recite immediately after praying their daily Rosary. The Blessed Virgin Mary, in a message to Barnabas on January 29, 1997, says of the Chaplet of the Precious Blood: “My children, this Chaplet of the Precious Blood of My Son combines all the devotions of My Son’s Passion. In heaven, this prayer is one of the greatest prayers that ceases the anger of the Eternal Father and brings mercy to the world.”

Bishoip Ayo-Maria Atoyebi, OP, Bishop of Ilorin Diocese (Nigeria), emphasizes the importance and power of the Devotion to the Precious Blood, particularly the Chaplet:

“The Chaplet of the Precious Blood with devotion to the Wounds of the Lord Jesus is a spiritual gift of inestimable price for this critical time. We focus all our attention on the Crucified Lord. What makes this Chaplet very powerful is that we stand before the Cross of Jesus with Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Sorrows, the Co-Redemptrix, Our Advocate and Mediatrix of all graces. Our gazes are on the Five Wounds of Jesus and the Blood and Water He shed from them.”

Jesus: “My children, pray this Chaplet of My Precious Blood. I promise to destroy many kingdoms of your enemy - the evil spirits.” (July 23, 1997)

Powerful Promises

Jesus makes powerful promises to those who honor His Precious Blood and practice the devotion by reciting the various prayers given to Barnabas:

“My son, why is it that only a few people among you show me love? Only a few know Me. My children, love Me, console Me and adore Me. I promise to protect anyone who devotedly consoles Me and adores Me with this prayer against evil attack. He will not die a sudden death. He will not be burnt by fire. Any soldier who says this prayer before he enters into a battlefield will not be defeated. No bullet will have any effect on him. Say this prayer over a woman in labor and the woman will have lesser pains. Any woman who devotedly says this prayer will be delivered safely without much pain.

"Put this prayer in the head of any child who is disturbed by evil spirits and my Cherubim will protect him. I promise to protect any family who devotedly says this prayer from lightning and thunder effects. Any house where this prayer is kept will be protected against storms.

"If this prayer is said to the dying before his death, I promise that his soul will not be lost...I promise to protect them with My Precious Blood and hide them in My Holy Wounds all who console me and adore me. Poison will have no effect on you. I will guard your five senses...The Archangel Michael will defend you...All who devotedly console me and adore me with this prayer until death will join the heavenly Armies and Choirs.” (July 26, 1997)

Formula-Based Prayers vs. Meditation/Contemplation

Sadly, many priests nowadays tend to look down on novenas, formula prayers, and other forms of “devotions”. Some even suggest that to be spiritually “mature”, we need to “graduate” from these lesser forms of Catholic worship, into the more “advanced” forms of prayer such as contemplation and meditation. It is as if “formula-based” prayers, such as the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and now the Chaplet of the Precious Blood, are “inferior” prayers in the spiritual repertoire of Catholics.

The first point to note in answering the above objection is that many of these so-called “formula-based” prayers are in essence meditative prayers. When we recite the rosary, what is actually more important than the verbal repetition of the “Hail Mary” is the contemplation of the mysteries of the rosary. The rosary is first and foremost, therefore, a meditative prayer. It is a call to meditate on the entire life of Jesus Christ, as contained in the mysteries.

The Chaplet of the Precious Blood, while it uses repetitive prayers such as “Precious Blood of Jesus, save us!”, is nonetheless still primarily a meditative prayer that invites us to contemplate the Five Wounds of Jesus Christ.

Why Another Devotion?

Some will argue: Why the need for so many different devotions? We already have so many devotions: the Sacred Heart Devotion, Devotion to the Twin Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Divine Mercy Devotion. Why the need for another devotion?

The answer to the above lies in the fact that the Person of the Lord Jesus has multiple aspects and facets. The many different devotions to the Lord are meant to help us understand and appreciate the various aspects of His Person. The devotion to the Sacred Heart helps us appreciate His Love. The Divine Mercy devotion teaches us about His supreme Mercy. The Twin Hearts Devotion teaches us of the inseparability of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Finally, the Precious Blood Devotion invites us to contemplate His Passion.

The Blessed Virgin, in a message to Barnabas on July 15, 1997, says that the Precious Blood devotion is the culmination of all devotions to Our Lord: “This devotion combines all the devotions of my Son and my Lord’s passion. Heaven adores forever the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ through these prayers.”

Furthermore, the Precious Blood devotion helps Catholics realize the primacy of the Eucharist and the Holy Mass: the highest forms of Catholic worship. The devotion is a call for all of us to honor the Precious Blood of Jesus by frequently attending Holy Mass and receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

Should Catholics believe and embrace this devotion? The practical answer to this question is this: What have we got to lose by practicing the devotion? We have everything to gain and nothing to lose when we practice the devotion and recite the recommended prayers!

Returning Our Gaze to Jesus

To be devoted to the Precious Blood of Jesus is to refocus our hearts on the Passion of Jesus.

It calls us to return our gaze to the suffering Christ on the Cross - the Lord of the Universe who humbled Himself to such an extent that He shed His very Blood for each one of us. In this our modern era, most of us are blinded and consumed by the pursuit for worldly treasures, riches, glory. We spend most of our waking hours not even giving a single minute of thought to Jesus: we work the whole day, we entertain ourselves, we eat, drink and try to “be happy.”

We spend most of our time storing up riches in this world, and in the process neglect the real treasure, the real purpose of life: to go to Heaven, our final home. This earth is not our final home! We forget that Jesus paid the ultimate price to open Heaven’s doors for all of us: He paid for it with His very Blood. The Precious Blood devotion encourages us to fix our gaze on Heaven, our ultimate prize, and on Jesus, who purchased Heaven for us with His Blood.

Jesus said to Barnabas (July 4, 1998): “My children, when the world held My right Hand and pierced it with a long nail, I cried in great pains. With love, I remembered you and offered My Pains for your healing and salvation. Meditate on My Agony for your sake. Think how I love you.”

Many of us may not be able to fully practice the devotion and recite all the recommended prayers. But at the very least, let us try learn to pray all throughout the day the simple ejaculation: “Precious Blood of Jesus, save us!” When we wake up (“Precious Blood of Jesus, help me today!”), before every important meeting or appointment (“Precious Blood of Jesus, help me in my meeting!”), after every successful accomplishment (“Precious Blood of Jesus, thank you for the help!”), before we go to sleep (“Precious Blood of Jesus, thank you for this day!”).

If we can do this, we can be comforted in the thought that Jesus Himself has promised that through His Precious Blood, He will protect us, bless us, and most importantly, at the end of our earthly journey, bring us safely to our true home: Heaven.