Today begins Our Lady’s Lent. St. Francis of Assisi kept this Lenten Fast from July 1st until the Feast of the Assumption. It is also suggested that St. Peter Damian, an Umbrian, might have brought this practice about with the reform of clergy and religious during the 11th century in Italy. Another Umbrian kept this fast, as well, (one of my favorites) Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was from his life I first learned of this period of penance, which in his time was kept from the Feast of the Precious Blood to Our Lady’s Feast. He would abstain from fruits, most particularly figs (his favorite), during these summer months.
On the first of the year, we recall the first shedding of the Blood of Christ, in His circumcision. We now have this reminder halfway through the calendar year of the salvation that alone comes through the Blood of Christ! Most will not keep this Lent. It will be a hidden Lent, a humble Lent, in imitation of Our Lady of Humility. Join me if you are able. We have much to pray for. In these turbulent times, let us focus primarily on our friendship with Christ!
We hear in the encyclical Inde a Primis:
How truly precious is this Blood is voiced in the song which the Church sings with the Angelic Doctor (sentiments wisely seconded by our predecessor Clement VI) :
Blood that but one drop of has the world to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
Unlimited is the effectiveness of the God-Man’s Blood — just as unlimited as the love that impelled him to pour it out for us, first at his circumcision eight days after birth, and more profusely later on in his agony in the garden, in his scourging and crowning with thorns, in his climb to Calvary and crucifixion, and finally from out that great wide wound in his side which symbolizes the divine Blood cascading down into all the Church’s sacraments. Such surpassing love suggests, nay demands, that everyone reborn in the torrents of that Blood adore it with grateful love.
In addition to taking on some fasts and penance from today’s feast and in preparation for the Assumption of Our Lady, I suggest the daily recitation of the Litany of the Most Precious Blood. Recite the Litany humbly and with true adoration.