Twenty years ago a dear friend, herself now living as an urban poustinik in another part of the country, gave me a litany, one she then and now prays daily.
This litany, which appears ancient in origin, came without any indication of authorship, imprimatur, indeed without anything which would enable us to trace its origin.
She herself had failed to trace it and likewise, even putting in variations on title into search engines, have, try as I might, failed to find its history.
All that being said the title on the now well-worn copy I have is: “Litany to the Victory of the Blood of Jesus.”
I’ll put the full litany at the end of this piece; here I share a few reflections on phrases which I have found over the years particularly encouraging as prayer.
The first three invocations stress praise; five of adoration follow; four more of praise and the concluding five are of glorification.
Of the first group I find great comfort in: “I praise you Precious Blood of the Lamb of God who heals all the infirmities of my body; soul; spirit.”
Funny thing about infirmity and healing, we tend to presume that healing in this life primarily means a type of ‘getting rid of’ or being cured of some disease, addiction, doubt.
While certainly God in His mercy can and does grant such total healing sometimes, as St. Paul with his proverbial ‘thorn in the flesh’ and poor eyesight attests, the more profound healing is when, as Paul mentions in Galatians 4, we are healed to the point where the false, diseased, un-sanctified self is dead and in truth then it is no longer the “I” who lives but Christ within us.
Certainly I take very seriously requests from anyone who asks me to pray for a miraculous healing from cancer, for example, and rejoice when such a gift is granted.
Like most priests, like many people, I also bear witness to the miraculous transformation in people when such a physical miracle is not the one granted.
A man comes to mind who was extremely successful in his chosen profession acquiring great wealth and renown and in the days long before such individuals were no longer shunned, and before there was any real treatment, he was diagnosed with AIDS.
Eventually, given the costs of medical care, he lost his fortune, his possessions, his home, and ended up in a hostel for people with AIDS, where he did receive excellent palliative care.
I met him through another priest who asked if I would go and pray with the man for, while this man had abandoned his faith in his youth to pursue a life of money, prestige and pleasure, and while he did go through the usual stages of anger, denial, depression at the outset, he trusted my brother priest as a friend and listened, with an open heart, when urged to return to Christ through Mary.
This was the great miracle for the man not only returned to the sacraments, but from his bed in the hostel carried on in the remaining months of his life a true apostolate of the Rosary, of listening to fellow suffers.
Many either returned themselves to the sacraments or at least approached death with peace and dignity.
Which brings me to this prayer in the litany: “I adore you Blood of the Lamb in your powerful purification.”
In this Year of the Priest we continue, tragically and with great pain, to hear of cases of abuse of the innocents.
Granted the vast majority of these cases are between fifty and thirty years old but the scandal and pain, the need for authentic justice and healing, is immediate.
We can rage, become enmeshed in the feeding frenzy of media and others with agendas piggy-backed onto a real horror, or as priests we can turn to Christ and pray and suffer intently that through His Precious Blood this becomes a true purification for the priesthood in general and each priest in particular so that we emerge from this Year of the Priest more sanctified and faithful.
Again, from the litany: “I praise you Precious Blood of Jesus Christ which frees me from slavery.”
Ah, but I am not a slave, right?
Years ago when I first prayed this litany that invocation brought me to a sudden standstill and at the same time there was within me a sort of urge to flee!
Slavery is, clearly, a form of bondage and so when I replaced the word slavery and prayed “frees me from bondage” there was illumination.
I realized, for example being prone to anxiety, is a type of slavery as is my addiction to cigarettes. Thus the critical importance of this invocation became crystal clear, so I continue each time I pray it to have ‘aha!’ moments – some are insights of slavery to what might be dismissed as eccentricities, others are more serious like my absolutely having to always have certain comfort food handy!
Jesus and Mary want us to be truly free of anything and everything that binds, enslaves us that we might truly be filled with the joyous freedom of the children of God, with holiness.
In these days of the shadow of darkness of the culture of death, of global anxiety, which seems even to deeply impact true believers, over everything from terrorism to the climate and the economy, these days when catastrophes such as the earthquake in Haiti through modern media are immediate and close to our own lives, how important to pray with intimate confidence in Jesus: “Glory be to the Blood of Jesus Christ which delivers me from the powers of evil.”
Yes: “Glory be to the Blood of Jesus Christ which makes all things new. Amen.”
Litany to the Victory of the Blood of Jesus
I praise you Precious Blood of the Lamb of God who heals all the infirmities of my body.
I praise you Precious Blood of the Lamb of God who heals all the infirmities of my soul.
I praise you Precious Blood of the Lamb of God who heals all the infirmities of my spirit.
I adore you Blood of the Lamb in your powerful forgiveness.
I adore you Blood of the Lamb in your powerful healing.
I adore you Blood of the Lamb in your powerful purification.
I adore you Blood of the Lamb in your powerful renewal.
I adore you Blood of the Lamb in your powerful protection.
I praise you Precious Blood of Jesus Christ which purifies me and rids me of my sins.
I praise you Precious Blood of Jesus Christ which frees me from slavery.
I praise you Precious Blood of Jesus Christ which is stronger than my corruptible blood.
I praise you Precious Blood of Jesus Christ which transforms me to His own image.
I praise you Precious Blood of Jesus Christ was makes of me a new creature.
Glory be to the Blood of Jesus Christ which delivers me from the powers of evil.
Glory be to the Blood of Jesus Christ which triumphs over my enemies.
Glory be to the Blood of Jesus Christ which protects me from the snares of satan.
Glory be to the Blood of Jesus Christ which robes me in the white garment of the wedding of the Lamb.
Glory be to the Blood of Jesus Christ which makes all things new. Amen.