On a liturgical note: July

By Canon Philip Gillespie

"For raised up high on the Cross, he gave himself up for us with a wonderful love and poured out blood and water from his pierced side, the wellspring of the Church's Sacraments, so that, won over to the open heart of the Saviour, all might draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation." Preface of the Sacred Heart

This month of July is, in tradition, dedicated to the Precious Blood. Pope Pius IX established a Feast of the Precious Blood in 1849, but that of course was building on a tradition dating back to Scriptural times. The shedding of blood in the Old Testament is seen as a "sealing" of the Covenants made between God and his people, and indeed between the people themselves.

So it follows that the blood poured out by Jesus seals the "new and eternal covenant" which, in his life, death and resurrection, is the expression and the revelation of God the Father's love for each one of us. In the middle of last month we kept the Solemnity of Corpus Christi which, although we often translate it as The Body of Christ, is actually the Body and BLOOD of Christ (Sollemnitas Ss.mi Corporis et Sanguinis Christi) and it is a reminder that the blood of Christ is the sign of love "poured out for YOU and for many".

In that sense, to receive from the Chalice at Mass is yet a further personal moment of Communion with the Lord. To eat and drink at the Lord's table, to have Communion with Christ in his self-giving, is at the heart of what it is to be a follower of the way of Christ. We have to have a personal and individual life of prayer and devotion but this is to underpin our common life, our communal following of the way of Christ.

To be part of a community, and of a Communion of Faith, is a reminder that on both a spiritual level and a practical level, I can never live as an island 'entire of itself' because I never know all the answers (or indeed all the questions). I never have all the abilities or skills needed to live life to the full and in all its perfection and potential. I need others – and others need me. That is the essence of Communion.