Page 4, 27th June 1969

27th June 1969
Page 4
Page 4, 27th June 1969 — REFLECTION

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People: Arnold Bennett


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The blood of our price

SOME prophet of doom told me the other day that the feast of the Precious Blood is to be abolished. We celebrated it this week in our diocese. If it is the last time I will regret it for the sake of future teenagers, who will have to miss that particular inspirational rivulet of living water in their unaware thirst for God.

For some people (as for Arnold Bennett, for instance, in the Five Towns of his youth) the Precious Blood may have unseemly mental associations from excessively evangelicalstyle hymns in 19th century chapels, about the Blood of the Lamb, or bathing In sanguineous fountains.

For me, the association was more with one of Faber's books, and a notable, purple passage about "the history of the Precious Blood"—a long pageant down the ages, possibly suggested to the author by the annual procession at Bruges.

Faber tried his hand at a hymn-version, too, for he remained a sort of evangelical at heart, even in his most Papalist days.

"Hail, Jesus, hail, who for my sake Sweet Blood from Mary's veins didst take And shed it all for me."

Well, I call that good, don't you? Good theology, good everything.

Scriptural, too, of course. The first Pope (who didn't abolish much except the barbed-wire fence between Jews and Gentiles, and was a bit slow even over doing that) told the faithful that the ransom-price paid for them had not been any silver or gold but "the precious blood of Christ."

And St. Paul was constantly coming back to it: we are "bought with a great price," "reconciled by the Blood of His Cross." And in St. John's Vision, too: that new canticle sung to the Lamb in heaven: "You were sacrificed, and with your blood You bought men for God

Out of every race, language, people and country."

With his own blood! I suppose that is the point—the vast, the staggeringly unthinkable generosity of our God. Isn't that the centre of the whole Christian discovery—God loves us, loved me. gave himself up for me!

History of salvation, do you lfite to call it? Well, salvation was a great word, but an abstract word, after all. There is something concrete and basic and primitive about blood, as about iron nails, and about eating and drinking, and wine and bread. Perhaps Faber was more on target with his "history of the Precious Blood."

Every "saint" first saw daylight when he somehow realised that God is not as black as he Is painted, that he is our Creator who created us to love us, and who hopes we may come to love him.

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