The Precious Blood: Justice and Mercy

Rev. Robert Brucciani

Almighty, everlasting God, who hast ordained thine only-begotten Son to be the Redeemer of the world, and wast pleased to be reconciled unto us in his blood; grant to us, we beseech thee, so to venerate with solemn rite the price of our redemption... (Collect of the Feast of the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ).

God is Justice and Mercy

When we say that God is Justice (demanding reparation for sin or punishing sinners) it might seem to contradict the fact that God is also Mercy (making reparation for our sins and forgiving sinners). There is actually no contradiction in terms, because God’s justice is entirely rooted in His mercy. He offers us a superabundance of graces to repent, to become just and save our souls; He rewards those who love Him far beyond their merits; and if we turn to Him, His punishment is never so much as we deserve.

But this entwining of divine justice and mercy in the redemption of man is a doctrine which appears to be increasingly at odds with the new theology of the Second Vatican Council. Today we hear suggestions of a universal salvation (everyone is saved) and a hell (if it exists) with no souls in it. Limbo has been declared a fiction. The problem is that the notion of Redemption is completely misunderstood.

Catholic Redemption

Redemption is the freeing of man from sin and its attendant evils (servitude to the devil and eternal death) by the paying of a debt (a redeeming of a debt). It also signifies the restoration of man’s supernatural union with God which is called an atonement (at-one-ment).

As the work of the Redeemer, it is called the Objective Redemption and its realisation in individuals is called the Subjective Redemption. Christ redeemed the whole of mankind objectively but not subjectively. Every individual to be saved must have applied the fruits of the Redemption to his soul. This is called Justification. Justification (being made just or right with God) is brought about by our incorporation into Christ by becoming living members of His Mystical Body. This happens by the reception of sanctifying grace.

Vatican II Redemption

The modern concept of Redemption is no longer the satisfaction of divine justice as wrought by Christ, but rather the supreme revelation of the eternal Covenant which God has made with humanity, a covenant that has not been destroyed by sin. In short, Jesus came to tell us that we are all saved whatever we do. It is desirable that we become conscious of our elevated humanity, to reach fulfilment in this world, but it is not a necessity for our salvation. There is mercy, but no justice. Of course, this false doctrine is not expressed in such clear terms because, by deliberate intention, the propositions concerning almost all the controversial points in the council documents can be understood in a correct way and a heretical way (e.g. Gaudium et spes §181 ).

But by reducing the Redemption to an act of mercy without justice, the magnitude and completeness of the act of mercy and love is diminished, the reality of sin as an offence against God is evacuated and the example of repentance and penance enacted by Our Lord in His Passion is made meaningless. And, most of all, the Passion of Our Lord as the cause of the objective salvation of every human soul from the dawn of time is denied. In effect, His Precious Blood is poured out upon the ground for nothing. It is for this reason that the Feast of the Precious Blood was suppressed in 1969.

The Precious Blood

The Precious Blood, my dear brethren, is the means God has chosen to pour forth the intermingled stream of justice and mercy upon mankind. The blood of Christ was the price of our redemption. Its shedding was an act of justice to the Father by the Son, the application of its merits was an act of mercy by the Blessed Trinity and the two together are acts of love by the same.

Let us who follow the 1962 liturgical calendar be alone in the Church to celebrate this feast on 1 July so that, on behalf of the entire Church we pray (as the collect continues):

Grant to us we beseech thee, so to venerate with solemn rite the price of our Redemption, and to be on earth so defended by its power from the evils of the present life, that we may rejoice in its perpetual fruit in heaven.

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  • 1<p>"It is in the face of death that the riddle a human existence grows most acute. Not only is man tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of his body, but even more so by a dread of perpetual extinction. He rightly follows the intuition of his heart when he abhors and repudiates the utter ruin and total disappearance of his own person. He rebels against death because he bears in himself an eternal seed which cannot be reduced to sheer matter. All the endeavors of technology, though useful in the extreme, cannot calm his anxiety; for prolongation of biological life is unable to satisfy that desire for higher life which is inescapably lodged in his breast.</p> <p>"Although the mystery of death utterly beggars the imagination, the Church has been taught by divine revelation and firmly teaches that man has been created by God for a blissful purpose beyond the reach of earthly misery. In addition, that bodily death from which man would have been immune had he not sinned(14) will be vanquished, according to the Christian faith, when man who was ruined by his own doing is restored to wholeness by an almighty and merciful Saviour. For God has called man and still calls him so that with his entire being he might be joined to Him in an endless sharing of a divine life beyond all corruption. Christ won this victory when He rose to life, for by His death He freed man from death. Hence to every thoughtful man a solidly established faith provides the answer to his anxiety about what the future holds for him. At the same time faith gives him the power to be united in Christ with his loved ones who have already been snatched away by death; faith arouses the hope that they have found true life with God."</p>