Note 1/26/2014: As you see below, I write this article below concerning only the actual prayers themselves in the new Precious Blood of Jesus devotional book – a book containing a Nihil Obstat from an Archbishop. I have not researched or discerned the alleged apparition itself from which they come. I issue no firm opinion one way or the other on that, and assert that, as always, I will unconditionally submit to any Church rulings on the matter.
It was late March in the year of our Lord 2010, and I was alone on an island in the Atlantic off the coast of Georgia. After a few miles of trekking down the pristine wilderness beach, I set up camp a short walk across the sand dunes and past the forest of massive oaks draped with Spanish moss protruding from an otherwise unbroken carpet of ancient looking saw palmettos; watching families of wild horses stroll by me on their paths and listening to armadillos scurrying around me in the underbrush.
This was no shipwreck; I was camping on Cumberland Island for several days of prayer and fasting to prepare for the cross-country Catholic road trip pilgrimage ahead of me.
Going out to an island for this purpose sounds like a great idea in theory. But after a day of having no one to talk to, extremely hungry because the thought of any more of that plain 100% whole wheat bread (which is all you brought) nauseates you, and constantly uncomfortable because there isn’t anything to sit on; then you start to wonder what on earth you were thinking. I admit this is the point I reached very quickly. I had anticipated this might happen, so in addition to a couple prayer books and the Bible I brought with me one of the Lord of the Rings novels – thinking an entertaining story would suffice for taking my mind off the discomfort. I soon found that insufficient also. I was tired, distracted, lonely, uncomfortable, very hungry, and completely lacking the peace I hoped to find there.
I was about to give up and trek the few miles back to base camp where I could hopefully ferry back to the mainland, when I had an urge to give one more thing a try. My friend Deacon Tom had given me a small devotional prayer book earlier; on the cover was an imposing image of Christ’s bloodied face crowned with thorns that penetrates you as soon as you glance at it, along with the words “Precious Blood of Jesus Daily Devotional.” I picked up this small book and my rosary beads and, taking nothing else with me, made for the beach. There was God’s answer to my troubles. I simply opened up the book and started praying its contents. I walked for miles along those perfect shores, going through page after page.
The Rosary, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Chaplet of the Precious Blood, the Litany of the Precious Blood, the Consecration to the Precious Blood, the Consolation Prayers, the Adoration Prayers, the Anguished Appeals, the Mystical Prayers… on I went, for hours. My fervency only grew as I continued to pray and walk. The power of these prayers was surging through me and making me forget all my worries. Before my eyes in no vague terms was the sacrifice that Jesus made, and its depiction brought constant tears to my eyes. After many hours of dryness and complete inability to focus for one minute, I now found myself almost incapable of speaking out loud a single line of these prayers without being struck with the need to weep in prayerful thanksgiving for all that He went through for me. This was my first major introduction to devotion to the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and my initial inspiration for sticking with its demanding regimen.
We are usually best off ignoring dreams, but sometimes we are given one that we know contains a sign from God. In one that I had soon after my time on Cumberland Island, I beheld the terribly scourged Jesus crouching down on the ground, enduring unimaginable misery. I went to Him and embraced Him tenderly and held Him, weeping bitterly, as I sought to console Him. I had a great interior sense that this attempt of mine was having a good effect. In another, a torrent of fire and lava was spewing out from the ground in a nearby city, such that it had almost reached the front steps of my home. At this, I ran out to the porch with my Rosary beads and, falling to my knees, began praying the chaplet of the Precious Blood. The flow of fire stopped just short of our home as I did this. In yet another, I witnessed a close friend of mine who is a Deacon wielding off evil spirits with “The Prayer to Vanquish Satan and his Agents,” given to Barnabas by Jesus as a part of this devotion.
But my personal experiences merely confirm what I see with my reason: the extreme power of this devotion and its perfect fit for the age in which we live. In many ways I see this devotion as an attack against the great evils of today. One of these is fluffy Catholicism. The type that disdains any mention of crucifixes, blood, penance, the Wrath of God, evil, demons, Satan, or sin. This devotion is the most unabashed possible diametric opposite of such lukewarm, modernistic false teaching. Just look at “The Agonizing Crucifix,” which is a major aspect of the Precious Blood Devotion, and behold the cover of the daily devotional prayer book:
But this does not mean it is a Jansenistic devotion; focusing only on God’s wrath, sin, and our unworthiness. Quite the contrary it is full of hope and mercy; see these excerpts from some of its prayers: “We appreciate your benevolence and solicit Your continued loving kindness… O loving Jesus Christ, Whose mercy is endless, we adore Your Agonizing Heart which bears great pains and sorrows for the salvation of man… Heavenly Father, Your love is eternal. In Your ocean of love, You saved the world through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ…Merciful and loving Father, Your wish is that all men shall be saved… Eternal Father, You are the creator and author of life. You love the world You made… You are the only Immortal God, God who is love, merciful and kind.”
This devotion is equally unabashed in its condemnation of homosexuality, abortion, modern fashions, unworthy communions, irreverence toward the Eucharist, fornication, adultery, immodesty, worldly priests, justifying sin by simply planning to confess it, taking the Lord’s name in vain, neglecting to keep the Sabbath, the forsaking of vows, and criticizing instead of praying for the Church (in short, all of those sins which modernist heretics and lukewarm Catholics within and without the Church want us to accept and welcome). It is highly concerned with purgatory, the protection of the clergy, the Immaculate and Sacred Hearts, reparation to the Eternal Father, offering ones-self as a victim soul to be in agony with Jesus, the Sacred Side of Jesus, and the invocation of St. Michael the Archangel.
It is traditional without being traditionalistic. Highly recommended as part of this daily devotion is all twenty decades of the Rosary; required is at least 5 a day. Contained within the pages are the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Litany of Saints, as well as the original long prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. It opens up with remarks by Blessed John Paul II on “Christ’s Blood, Source of Salvation.”
Finally, if you will forgive the slight vulgarity, this devotion seems to me like “Divine Mercy on Steroids;” taken up a few notches in fervency and in graphic truth in stride with the urgency and gravity of our times. This devotion is fearlessly apocalyptic in nature. It gives no dates, of course, but does speak of the Antichrist and the Red Dragon. “The great day of darkness is coming… Wake up, my children for evangelization!… Persist in your work of salvation now! Call my people back to me,” says Jesus to Barnabas. Are these “gloom and doom” words, insisting that people sell their possessions or stock up on food and ammunition? Not at all! What enormous privileges you choose to deprive yourself of when you permit the false prophets, those who insist upon fixed dates or who claim security through worldly means or preach heresies like the rapture and millenarianism, to cause you to turn your back on the true prophets: those who fearlessly proclaim that the time of mercy is running out and we must step up our efforts in fighting for the Kingdom and spiritually readying ourselves for chastisements which are to precede a Glorious Reign of Peace (otherwise known as the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart). You may respond “I live my life as a Catholic so that I may die any day, why need I bother with this?” It is well and good that you live as such. But with those words do you categorically reject prophecy? Do you willingly call down upon yourself the condemnation of the holy Apostle St. Paul who demands that you “despise not prophecy” (cf 1 Thess 5:20)? Would you reject Jonah’s call to penance and convince your household to do likewise, thus refusing the mercy that God desired to grant Nineveh? Oh devout soul: it is not your place to decide what Heaven ought to say. It is your place to prayerfully discern what you are presented with so as to sift out the false prophets, hear what Heaven has said, and do as you are told.
Right now, what we are being told is very clear. Seek out your Divine battle orders by lending your ear to the Hound of Heaven who has graced our age with such unfathomable mercy in apparitions, visions to Saints, and powerful devotions like the one I speak of here, but also: St. Faustina and Divine Mercy. Our Lady at Fatima, Medjugorje, Kibeho, Akita, Garabandal. Fr. Gobbi and the Marian Movement of Priests. Maria Esparanza, Louisa Piccarreta, Ann the lay apostle, Therese Neuman, and so many more!
Can I say with certainty these are all valid? Of course not, but they all say essentially the same thing, and I am enormously confident at least some of them are valid. With obedience to the Magisterium and a solid foundation in Scripture and Catechism, you need not lay idle in paralyzing fear of falling into error. Instead, proceed with courage and prudence, trusting in Jesus.
It is convenient and easy to open up the Precious Blood of Jesus Daily Devotional, or anything similar, and say “that kind of stuff is not for me.” It is that same convenience that the agnostic strives after in choosing not to develop a belief about God. But that is no longer possible. The marks are being placed. The time for neutrality is over; the battle is beginning.