By Father Brian Jordan, OFM, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, 135 West 31st Street, New York. N.Y. 10001.
It has been three months, twelve Sundays to be exact since the faithful People of God have received the Eucharist—the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. At least a week before churches in the metro New York area, only the presiding priest drank from the cup of the Precious Blood. The faithful have been asked to receive “spiritual communion” only during the present pandemic. They all yearn to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ as soon as possible. Recently, I discovered how the People of God can receive by giving their own “Precious Blood.”
On the Saturday of this past Memorial Day weekend, I prayed for all the veterans of the United States armed forces who gave the ultimate sacrifice by shedding their own blood for God and country. I then put my prayer into action by donating a pint of my blood to help with the acute blood shortage in the New York area. I found this to be a worthy cause as a sign of the common good during these unprecedented times.
I reassure the People of God that I miss the sacramental Precious Blood as well. I only partake of the Precious Blood when I am the presider of the Mass—whether it be a livestreaming Mass or a private Mass in the Chapel. I do not receive from the cup when I concelebrate at a public Mass. We all look forward when we can resume public Mass.
I share with them the Biblical teaching of the cup with the First Letter of St. Peter Chapter 1, verse 19 “you were ransomed with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless, unblemished Lamb.” It is clear that blood was precious in God’s sight and He would have it so in ours. Although most Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist in the Precious Blood , we “receive” by giving freely of our own “Precious Blood” through an approved, blood bank donation. It puts new meaning to the spiritual phrase “it is in giving that we receive!”
Donating blood is not only a civic duty but it is also a new corporal work of mercy during these times of the pandemic. Practicing social distancing does not prevent us from social responsibility. By giving our own “Precious Blood”, we put our faith into sacred action by helping to save another person’s life. That is the true spirit of the Judeo-Christian tradition!
During this past Memorial Day weekend, I mused on the saying of the ancient Roman writer, Cicero who wrote “Memory is the treasurer and guardian of all things.” Our fond memories of the holy sacrifice of the Mass are important. Recall the words of the priest after he consecrates the Precious Blood, “Do this in memory of me!” Jesus commanded his Apostles and his successors to repeat the action and words “until he comes again.” Let us put our words into action by donating a pint of blood as soon as possible during this pandemic. Remember, “it is in giving that we receive.”