The Seven Blood-Sheddings of Jesus

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Stories of the Passion (Maestà, verso) - by DUCCIO di Buoninsegna - from Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena

 

eucharist3.gif (9262 bytes) "All my Sermons are prepared in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. As recreation is most pleasant and profitable in the sun, so Homiletic Creativity is best nourished before the Eucharist. The most brilliant ideas come from meeting God face-to-face. The Holy Spirit that Presided at the Incarnation is the best atmosphere for Illumination. Pope John Paul II keeps a small desk or writing pad near him whenever he is in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament; and I have done this all my life — I am sure for the same reason he does, because a lover always works better when the Beloved is with him".

- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 

The Seven Blood-Sheddings of Jesus

compiled from several sources

 

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sheen.gif (6584 bytes) Introduction

from Calvary and the Mass

by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Ph.D., D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

There are certain things in life which are too Beautiful to be Forgotten, such as the Love of a Mother. Hence we Treasure her Picture. The Love of Soldiers who Sacrificed themselves for their Country is likewise too Beautiful to be Forgotten, hence we Revere their Memory on Memorial Day. But the greatest Blessing which ever came to this Earth was the Visitation of the Son of God in the Form and Habit of Man. His Life, above all Lives, is too Beautiful to be Forgotten, hence we Treasure the Divinity of His Words in Sacred Scripture, and the Charity of His Deeds in our Daily Actions. Unfortunately this is all some Souls remember, namely His Words and His Deeds; important as these are, they are not the Greatest Characteristic of the Divine Savior.

The most Sublime Act in the History of Christ was His Death. Death is always important, for it Seals a Destiny. Any Dying Man is a 'Scene'. Any Dying 'Scene' is a Sacred Place. That is why the great Literature of the Past, which has touched on the Emotions surrounding Death, has never Passed out of Date. But of all Deaths in the Record of Man, none was more important than the Death of Christ. Everyone else who was ever Born into the World, came into it to Live; Our Lord came into it to Die. Death was a Stumbling Block to the Life of Socrates, but it was the Crown to the Life of Christ. He Himself told us that He came "to give His Life as a Redemption for many"; that no one could take away His Life; but He would Lay it Down of Himself (He was both Priest and Victim).

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The Last Supper
by CRESPI, Daniele - from
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
 

If then Death was the Supreme Moment for which Christ Lived, it was therefore the One (1) Thing He wished to have Remembered. He did not ask that Men should write down His Words into a Scripture; He did not ask that His Kindness to the Poor should be Recorded in History; but He did ask that Men Remember His Death. And in order that its Memory might not be any Haphazard Narrative on the part of Men, He Himself Instituted the Precise Way it should be Recalled.

eucharist14.gif (4494 bytes) The Memorial was Instituted the Night (Holy Thursday) before He Died, at what has since been called "The Last Supper". Taking Bread into His Hands, He said: "This is My Body, which shall be delivered for you", i.e., delivered unto Death. Then over the Chalice of Wine, He said, "This is My Blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many unto Remission of Sins". Thus, in an Unbloody Symbol of the Parting of the Blood from the Body, by the Separate Consecration of Bread and Wine, did Christ Pledge Himself to Death in the Sight of God and Men, and Represent His Death which was to come the Next Afternoon at Three. He was Offering Himself as a Victim to be Immolated, and that Men might never forget that "Greater Love than this no man has, that a man Lay Down his Life for his Friends", He gave the Divine Command to the Church:

"Do this for a Commemoration of Me".

The following day (Good Friday), that which He had Prefigured and Foreshadowed, He Realized in its Completeness, as He was Crucified between Two (2) Thieves, and His Blood drained from His Body for the Redemption of the World.

 

star4.gif (851 bytes)Nota Bene: The Number Seven (7) usually means Fullness or Completeness, as in Seven (7) Days of the Week. God rested on the Seventh day. The Seven (7) Blood-Sheddings of Jesus Signify the Fullness or Completeness of our Redemption.

 

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First Blood-Shedding of Jesus
The Circumcision

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The Circumcision - by TINTORETTO - from Scuola di San Rocco, Venice

 

sheen.gif (6584 bytes) The Circumcision

by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Ph.D., D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

 

 

And after eight days were accomplished, that the Child should be Circumcised, His name was called JESUS, which was called by the Angel before He was Conceived in the Womb. [Luke 2:21] (DRV)

Circumcision was the Symbol of the Covenant between God and Abraham and his Seed, and took place on the Eighth Day. Circumcision Presumed that the Person Circumcised was a Sinner. The Babe was now taking the Sinner's Place ------ something He was to do all through His Life. Circumcision was a Sign and Token of Membership in the Body of Israel. Mere Human Birth did not bring a Child into the Body of God's Chosen People. Another Rite was Required, as Recorded in the Book of Genesis:

Again God said to Abraham: And thou therefore shalt keep My Covenant, and thy Seed after thee in their generations. This is My Covenant which you shall observe between Me and you, and thy Seed after thee: All the Male kind of you shall be Circumcised. And you shall Circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, that it may be for a sign of the Covenant between Me and you. [Genesis 17:9-11] (DRV)

Circumcision in the Old Testament was a Prefiguring of Baptism in the New Testament. Both Symbolize a Renunciation of the Flesh with its Sins. The First was done by Wounding of the Body; the Second, by Cleansing the Soul. The First, Incorporated the Child into the Body of Israel; the Second Incorporates the Child into the 'Body of the New Israel' or the Church. The term Circumcision was later used in the Scriptures to Reveal the Spiritual Significance of applying the Cross to the Flesh through Self-discipline. Moses, in the Book of Deuteronomy clearly spoke of Circumcising the Heart. Jeremiah also used the same expression. Saint Stephen, in his last address before being Killed, told his hearers that they were Uncircumcised in Heart and Ears. By submitting to this Rite, which He need not have done, because He was Sinless, the Son of God-made-Man Satisfied the Demands of His Nation, just as He was to keep all the other Hebrew Regulations. He kept the Passover; He observed the Sabbath; He went up to the Feasts; He obeyed the Old Law until the Time came for Him to 'Fulfill' it by Realizing and Spiritualizing its Shadowy Prefigurements of God's Dispensation.

In the Circumcision of the Divine Child there was a Dim Suggestion and Hint of Calvary, in the Precious Surrendering of Blood. The Shadow of the Cross was already Hanging-over a Child Eight Days Old. He would have Seven (7) Blood-Sheddings of which this was the First, the Others being:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Agony in the Garden,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Scourging,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Crowning with Thorns,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Way of the Cross,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Crucifixion, and

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Piercing of His Heart.

But whenever there was an Indication of Calvary, there was also some Sign of Glory; and it was at this moment when He was anticipating Calvary by Shedding His Blood, that the Name of Jesus was bestowed on Him.

A Child only Eight Days Old was already beginning the Blood-Shedding that would fulfill His Perfect Manhood. The Cradle was tinged with Crimson, a Token of Calvary. The Precious Blood was beginning its Long Pilgrimage. Within an Octave (8) of His Birth, Christ Obeyed a Law of which He Himself was the Author, a Law which was to find its Last Application in Him. There had been Sin in Human Blood, and now Blood was already being Poured-out to do away with Sin. As the East catches at Sunset the Colors of the West, so does the Circumcision reflect Calvary.

Must He begin Redeeming all at once? Cannot the Cross wait? There will be plenty of time for it. Coming straight from the Father's Arms to the arms of His Earthly mother, He is carried in her arms to His First Calvary. Many Years Later He will be taken from her arms again, after the Bruising of the Flesh on the Cross, when the Father's Work is done.

 

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Second Blood-Shedding of Jesus
The Agony in the Garden

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The Agony in the Garden - Christ comforted by an Angel

 

The Agony in the Garden

by Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B., Abbot of Maredsous

It is for the Love of His Father above all else that Jesus Willed to undergo His Passion.

Behold Jesus Christ in His Agony. For Three Long Hours Weariness, Grief, Fear and Anguish sweep in upon His Soul like a Torrent; the Pressure of this Interior Agony is so Immense that Blood bursts-forth from His Sacred Veins (A Medical Condition called Hematidrosis). What an Abyss of Suffering is reached in this Agony! And what does Jesus say to His Father? "Father, if it be possible, let this Chalice pass from Me". Can it be that Jesus no longer accepts the Will of His Father? Oh! certainly He does. But this Prayer is the Cry of the Sensitive Emotions of poor Human Nature, Crushed by Ignominy and Suffering. Now is Jesus truly a "Man of Sorrows". Our Savior Feels the Terrible Weight of His Agony bearing down upon His Shoulders. He wants us to realize this; that is why He utters such a Prayer.

But listen to what He immediately adds: "Nevertheless, Father, not My Will but Thine be done". Here is the Triumph of Love. Because He Loves His Father, He places the Will of His Father above everything else and accepts every possible Suffering in order to Redeem us.

star4.gif (851 bytes) Nota Bene: Jesus' Bloody-Sweat is a well-documented Medical Occurrence called Hematidrosis. Under Great Emotional Stress, tiny Capillaries in the Sweat Glands can break, thus causing Bloody-Sweat.

 

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Third Blood-Shedding of Jesus
The Scourging at the Pillar

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The Scourging of Christ - by Antonio M. Ruiz -
Angels collect the Precious Blood of Christ for our Redemption

 

The Scourging at the Pillar

by Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B., Abbot of Maredsous

Christ substituted Himself Voluntarily for us, as a Sacrificial Victim Without Blemish, in order to Pay our Debt, and, by the Expiation and the Satisfaction which He made for us, to Restore the Divine Life to us. This was the Mission which Christ came to fulfill, the Course which He had to run. "God has placed upon Him" — a Man like unto ourselves, of the Race of Adam, but entirely Just and Innocent and without Sin — "the iniquity of us all".

Since Christ has become, so to speak, a Sharer in our Nature and taken upon Himself the Debt of our Sin, He has Merited for us a Share in His Justice and Holiness. In the Forceful Words of Saint Paul, God, "by sending His Son in the Likeness of Sinful Flesh as a Sin-Offering, has Condemned Sin in the Flesh". And with an Impact still more-stunning, the Apostle writes: "For our sakes He (God) made Him (Christ) to be Sin, Who knew nothing of Sin". How startling this expression is: "made Him to be Sin"! The Apostle does not say "Sinner", but — what is still more striking — "Sin"!

Let us never forget that "We have been Redeemed at Great Price by the Precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without Blemish and without Spot".

 

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Fourth Blood-Shedding of Jesus
The Crowning with Thorns

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Ecce Homo - the Crowning with Thorns - by Tintoretto - from Scuola di San Rocco, Venice

 

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Ecce Homo
 

The Crowning with Thorns

by Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B., Abbot of Maredsous

Christ Jesus becomes an object of Derision and Insults at the hands of the Temple Servants. Behold Him, the All-Powerful God, struck by Sharp Blows; His Adorable Face, the Joy of the Saints, is covered with Spittle; a Crown of Thorns is forced down upon His Head; a Purple Robe is placed upon His Shoulders as a Mock of Derision; a Reed is thrust into His Hand; the servants genuflect Insolently before Him in Mockery. What an Abyss of Ignominy! What Humiliation and Disgrace for One before Whom the Angels Tremble!

The Cowardly Roman Governor imagines that the Hatred of the Jews will be Satisfied by the Sight of Christ in this Pitiful State. He shows Him to the Crowd: "Ecce Homo — Behold the Man"!

Let us Contemplate our Divine Master at this moment, plunged into the Abyss of Suffering and Ignominy, and let us realize that the Father also presents Him to us and says to us: "Behold My Son, the Splendor of My Glory — but Bruised for the Sins of My People".

 

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Fifth Blood-Shedding of Jesus
The Way of the Cross

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The Way of the Cross - by Giovanni Battista TIEPOLO - from Sant'Alvise, Venice

 

The Way of the Cross

by Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B., Abbot of Maredsous

Let us Meditate upon Jesus Christ on the Way to Calvary, laden with His Cross. He Falls under the Weight of this Burden. To Expiate Sin, He Wills to Experience in His Own Flesh the Oppression of Sin. Fearing that Jesus will not reach the Place of Crucifixion alive, the Jews force Simon of Cyrene to help Christ to carry His Cross, and Jesus Accepts this Assistance.

In this, Simon represents all of us. As Members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we should all help Jesus to Carry His Cross. This is the One (1) sure Sign that we belong to Christ — if we carry Our Cross with Him.

But while Jesus carried His Cross, He Merited for us the Strength to bear Our Trials with Generosity. He has placed in His Cross a Sweetness which makes ours Bearable, for when we carry Our Cross, it is really His that we receive. For Christ Unites with His Own, the Sufferings, Sorrows, Pains and Burdens which we accept with Love from His Hand, and by this Union He gives them an Inestimable Value, and they become a Source of Great Merit for us.

It is above all, His Love for His Father which impels Christ to accept the Sufferings of His Passion, but it is also the Love which He bears us.

 

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Sixth Blood-Shedding of Jesus
The Crucifixion

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The Crucifixion - by Tintoretto - from Scuola di San Rocco, Venice

 

The Crucifixion

by Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B., Abbot of Maredsous

At the Last Supper, when the Hour had come to complete His Oblation of Self, what did Christ say to His Apostles who were gathered around Him? "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends". And this is the Love, surpassing all Loves, which Jesus shows us; for, as Saint Paul says, "It is for us all that He is delivered up". What Greater Proof of Love could He have given us? None!

Hence the Apostle declares without ceasing that "because He loved us, Christ delivered Himself up for us", and "because of the Love He bears for me, He gave Himself up for me".

"Delivered", "Given" — to what extent? Even to the Death on the Cross!

What Enhances this Love Immeasurably is the Sovereign Liberty with which Christ delivered Himself up: "He offered Himself because He Willed it". These words tell us how Spontaneously Jesus accepted His Passion. This Freedom with which Jesus delivered Himself up to Death for us is One of the Aspects of His Sacrifice which Touch our Human Hearts most Profoundly.

 

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Seventh Blood-Shedding of Jesus
The Piercing of His Heart

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The Piercing of Jesus' Heart - by Pieter Pauwel Reubens,
from Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

 

The Piercing of His Heart

based on a Sermon by Saint John Chrysostom

It has been confirmed by Extensive Experimentation that the Blow of the Lance, which was given to the Right Side of Jesus, reached the Right Auricle of the Heart, Perforating the Pericardium. "But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His Legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened His Side, and immediately there came out Blood and Water". (John 19:33-34). The Body of One who had been Executed could be Legally delivered to the Family, but only after the Executioner made sure the Body was Dead. This Action which seems so strange was merely the carrying out of a Legal Regulation.

Your Heart, poor Jesus, was Compressed by this Expelled-Liquid (Blood and Water), and apart from all Your other Sufferings, You had the Agonizing Cruel Pain of Your Heart being held as if in a Vice. Was it so that we should know this; that this Soldier (Longinus) performed this Odd Aggressive Act? The Jews might also have made-out that You were not Dead, but had Fainted; Your Resurrection needed this Testimony. Thank you, Soldier; Thank you, Longinus; one day to come, you would be Privileged by God to Die a Christian Martyr.

Many times Pentecost is spoken of as the "Birthday of the Church". One could likewise consider Good Friday, with the Flow of Blood and Water from the Pierced Side of Christ hanging on the Cross, to be the "Birthday of the Church". The Church is a Creation of God. Saint John Chrysostom links God's Creation of Eve, the bride of Adam, with His Creation of His Church, the Bride of Christ:

The Gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the Cross, a soldier came and pierced His Side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of Baptism and the Blood, of the Holy Eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s Side, he breached the wall of the Sacred Temple, and I have found the Treasure and made it my own. So also with the Lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

“There flowed from His Side water and blood”. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these two Sacraments the Church is born: from Baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit”, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His Side, it was from His Side that Christ fashioned the Church, as He had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh”! As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from His Side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after His own death.

Do you understand, then, how Christ has united His Bride to Himself and what Food He gives us all to eat? By one and the same Food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with His Own Blood those to whom He Himself has given Life. [The Catecheses (Cat. 3, 13-19; SC 50, 174-177) by Saint John Chrysostom]

 

Birth of Eve,
the Bride of Adam,
from Adam's side

Birth of the Church,
the Bride of Christ,
from Christ's Side

"Water and Blood Symbolized Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these Two (2) Sacraments the Church is Born: from Baptism, the Cleansing Water that gives Rebirth and Renewal from the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the Symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His Side, it was from His Side that Christ 'Fashioned' the Church, as He had 'Fashioned' Eve from the side of Adam".

Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church

 

Conclusion

And now let us Thank God. All these Terrible Blood-Sheddings that we have just lived-in Him, were Forseen by Him all through His Life; He Premeditated them and Willed them, out of His Love, so that He might Redeem us from our Sins. He Directed the Whole of His Passion without avoiding One Torture, Accepting the Physiological Consequences, without being dominated by them. He Died 'When' and 'How' and 'Because' He Willed it.

Jesus is in Agony till the End-of-Time, by virtue of His Sacred Heart. It is Right, it is Good to Suffer with Him, and to thank Him, when He sends us Pain, to Associate/Join our Pains with His. We have, as Saint Paul writes, to Complete what is Lacking in the Passion of Christ, and with Mary, His mother and our mother, to Accept our Fellow-Suffering Fraternally and with Joy.