FR. MICHAEL WRITES:-
I’m sure we are all familiar with thinking of May as the month of Mary and November as the month of the dead. We’re probably also reasonably familiar with October being the month of the Rosary, and, for those more steeped in tradition, that June is the month of the Sacred Heart. But I wonder how many of us are aware that the traditional designation of thematic devotion in the month of July is the Precious Blood of the Lord? Given that the theme of the Lord’s Precious Blood is so rich for reflection, it is for me one of the mysteries of the reform of the liturgical calendar in 1970, that the Feast of the Precious Blood on 1st July each year was quietly relinquished. One who, long before the reforms, was in no doubt about the importance of the Feast and efficacy of the reality of the Precious Blood itself, was the builder of Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Herbert Vaughan. It is the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood because Vaughan specifically chose this dedication for the cathedral he decided to build as the mother-church of the diocese and the country. In its interior decoration, too, there are many reminders of this dedication. On entering through the cathedral’s main doors from the piazza, you may remember for instance that you find yourself standing under the clock hanging from the organ gallery above but which is supported by two huge blood-red Norwegian granite columns. In the marble decoration around the cathedral there is the motif of five blood-red circles shaped in the form of a cross within a lozenge-shaped border, symbolic of the Lord’s Five Precious Wounds. But Vaughan’s most deliberate theological gesture was encasing a fragment of the True Cross in the cross at the top of the cathedral’s great bell-tower. He did the same at the top of the tower of St Joseph’s Missionary Institute, Mill Hill, which he also founded and built. His reputed hope was to have two other fragments of the True Cross in towers to the east and west of the diocese so that, together with those fragments to the north (Mill Hill) and the south (the cathedral), the whole diocese and the great mass of humanity, both sinful and repentant, which London was and is, would be ‘washed white in the Blood of the Lamb,’ to use the expression from the Apocalypse (7:14), redeemed by the love and mercy of God so viscerally expressed in the Most Precious Blood which streamed from the Lord’s wounds as He hung upon the Cross. “The outpouring of Christ’s blood is the source of the Church’s life,” said Pope Benedict at Mass on his visit here in 2010. “In this Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood, I invite you once more to look to Christ. I ask you to unite yourselves ever more fully to the Lord, offering Him that spiritual worship which embraces every aspect of our lives and finds expression in our efforts to contribute to the coming of His Kingdom.” Much to pray about in July therefore.