“You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1: 18-19)
How much time do we spend in cars? The number of hours for me is enormous! And many of us – legal or not – reach for our cell phones the moment we stop our cars at a red light. The purpose of this note is to suggest something far more useful, far more powerful, when we are slowed down momentarily at a red light. It is a practice I call “the red light devotion.”
Thus, when you stop at a red light (which serves as a reminder of our Lord’s Precious Blood), you can make an offering of that Precious Blood, through Mary, for some special need you have or for some special person in need. Example: you stop at a red light and the color of the light reminds you of the dear Precious Blood of the Savior shed for love of you. Your heart is thus moved to pray: “Oh Mother Mary, please offer to the Eternal Father the most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ for the conversion of my oldest son back to the active practice of the Catholic faith.”
The idea here is to use every red light for the glory of God. Every red light can be used for the application of the Precious Blood for the good of our neighbors and community, or for our own personal needs, furthering the salvific aim of the Incarnation. Thus each red light involves a theological experience: the red light reminds us of the Precious Blood shed by Jesus to redeem the world, and the green light is a symbol of our new freedom in Christ (as in freedom from the ravages of sin). The car itself reminds us that we are pilgrims journeying towards ultimate union with Infinite Holiness. What a great way to make use of so much driving time!; and what a way to keep our minds in the safety of an unworldly environment while we are in the very midst of the world.
This devotion may seem hokey, but it’s one I find myself using throughout the day – with so many opportunities. The more people driving around doing this, the more reparation. It helps busy businessmen and women practice the presence of God. Don’t waste a red light!
Here is a devotion for certified Cathaholics. A major aim of the devotion to the Precious Blood is the prevention of sin, which gives glory to God by furthering His interests, and the devotion also benefits us by keeping our minds focused on our Lord’s Passion and the price He paid for the forgiveness of sin: the very shedding of His Precious Blood. By practicing this devotion, we develop true contrition for our own sins which, in turn, causes us to love Jesus even more. This practice of offering up the Precious Blood of Jesus was a favorite manner of prayer for the great mystic, Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi. I think the devotion also follows the Ignatian motto of “seeking God in all things” – even red lights. Give it a try for a few weeks and see what happens. And remember, all of the sacraments are fountains of the Precious Blood!
The Old Man and the Red Light
There was once an old man who had a simple devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus. His devotion consisted in saying this simple prayer once or twice a day when he stopped his car at a red light (using the redness of the light to remind him of the Precious Blood of Jesus):
“Dear Mother Mary, please offer to the Heavenly Father the Precious Blood of your dear son, Jesus Christ, for the prevention today of one mortal sin in this town or somewhere in the world. Praise the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ” (sometimes he said the prayer for some other need, for example, “for the grace to overcome impatience”).
He practiced this devotion for 25 years until the day he died. In fact, each red light reminded him of the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. Sometimes he practiced the devotion as part of his nightly prayers.
Now, after this man died, he found himself in Heaven standing in front of Jesus and surrounded by the entire Heavenly Court. Wondering why a nobody like himself should find himself in such a place of honor, it was explained to him that his simple devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus had prevented thousands of mortal sins during his life-time, much to the glory of God, and meriting for this man a very high degree of glory in Heaven.
Praise the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ – the price of our salvation.
P.S. The first Sunday in July is the traditional Feast of the Precious Blood.
Inspiration/Source: Relying completely on All for Jesus, see p.17, by F.W. Faber (I draw my fictional story above from Faber).
Recommended reading: The Precious Blood by F.W. Faber. Two saints who were particularily devoted to the Precious Blood: Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi.
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