The First Shedding of the Precious Blood 

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Meditation on the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

The First Shedding of the Precious Blood

It was but a few days after our Lord’s Birth that His Precious Blood first flowed for the sins of men. It was on the occasion of His circumcision the rite which is generally believed to have been the condition of the cleansing away of original sin under the Jewish covenant. O Jesus, at least Thine infancy might have passed before the work of expiation began! No; from His earliest days Christ began His work of redemption. In His yearning love He longed for suffering on behalf of those He loved, and would brook no delay.

The Precious Blood flowing in those earliest days teaches us another lesson. It shows how sin never fails to bring suffering with it. If it did so in the case of God made Man, and that throughout His life, so that He was never exempt from suffering, how much more is it reasonable that it should do so in the case of sinful man. If it did such things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? How then can I with all my sins expect to escape suffering?

Yet this first blood-shedding, this early suffering, was the occasion of the Name of Jesus being given to the Child Who endured it. He was our Saviour in, and because of, His suffering in, and because of, the shedding of His Precious Blood. Hence to suffer for Him, to be willing to shed our blood for Him, is the condition of sharing in His glorious work as Saviour of the world. Without suffering, without shedding of blood, there is no remission.

St. Praxedes

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St. Praxedes, Virgin

SHE was daughter of Pudens, a Roman senator, and sister to St. Pudentiana, and in the days of Pope Pius I. and the emperor Antoninus Pius, edified the church of Rome by the bright lustre of her virtues. All her great riches she employed in relieving the poor and the necessities of the church. By the comfort and succours which she afforded the martyrs she endeavoured to make herself partaker of their crowns, and she lived in the assiduous exercise of prayer, watching, and fasting. She died in peace and was buried near her sister on the Salarian road. Bede and other martyrologists style her a virgin. An old title or parish church in Rome bearing her name is mentioned in the life of Pope Symmachus. It was repaired by Adrian I. and Paschal I. and lastly by St. Charles Borromeo, who took from it his title of cardinal. 

The primitive Christians lived only for heaven, and in every step looked up to God, regardless of all lower pursuits or meaner advantages that could interfere with their great design of knowing and loving him. This constant attention to God awed them in their retirements; this gave life and wings to their devotions, and animated them to fervour in all their actions; this carried them through the greatest difficulties and temptations, and supported them under all troubles and afflictions. 

Prophet Daniel

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The hero and traditional author of the book which bears his name.

This name (Hebrew dnyal or dnal; Septuagint Daniél), which is also that of two other persons in the Old Testament [cf. I Paral., iii, 1; I Esd., viii, 2, and II Esd. (Nehem.), x, 6], means “God is my judge”, and is thus a fitting appellation for the writer of the Book of Daniel, wherein God’s judgments are repeatedly pronounced upon the Gentile powers.

Nearly all that is known concerning the Prophet Daniel is derived from the book ascribed to him. He belonged to the tribe of Juda (i, 6), and was of noble, or perhaps of royal, descent (i, 3; cf. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. X, ch. x, § 1). When still a youth, probably about fourteen years of age, he was carried captive to Babylon by Nabuchodonosor in the fourth year of the reign of Joakim (605 B.C.). There, with three other youths of equal rank named Ananias, Misael and Azarias, he was entrusted to the care of Asphenez, the master of the king’s eunuchs, and was educated in the language and learning of the “Chaldeans”, whereby are meant the professors of divination, magic, and astrology in Babylon (i, 3, 4). From this passage Jewish tradition has inferred that Daniel and his companions were made eunuchs; but this does not necessarily follow; the master of the eunuchs simply trained these Jewish youths, among others, with a view to their entering the king’s service (i, 5). Daniel now received the new name of Baltassar (Babyl. Balâtsu-usur, “Bel protect his life”), and, in agreement with Ananias, Misael, and Azarias, who received similarly the new names of Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, respectively, asked and obtained permission not to use the special food from the royal table provided for those under training, and to be limited to vegetable diet. At the end of three years Daniel and his three companions appeared before the king, who found that they excelled all the others who had been educated with them, and thereupon promoted them to a place in his court. Henceforth, whenever the prince tested them, they proved superior to “all the diviners, and wise men, that were in all his kingdom” (i, 7-20). Soon afterwards—either in the second or in the twelfth year of Nabuchodonosor’s reign—Daniel gave a signal proof of his marvellous wisdom. On the failure of all the other wise men, he repeated and interpreted, to the monarch’s satisfaction, the king’s dream of a colossal statue which was made up of various materials, and which, on being struck by a stone, was broken into pieces, while the stone grew into a mountain and filled the whole earth. On this account, Daniel in Babylon, as Joseph of old in Egypt, rose into high favour with the prince, who not only bestowed on him numerous gifts, but also made him ruler of “the whole province of Babylon” and chief governor of “all the wise men”. At Daniel’s request, too, his three friends received important promotions (ii). The next opportunity afforded Daniel to give proof of his wisdom was another dream of Nabuchodonosor which, once more, he alone was able to interpret. The dream was of a mighty tree concerning which the king heard the command given that it should be cut down, and that “seven times” should “pass over” its stump, which had been left standing. This, explained Daniel, portended that in punishment of his pride the monarch would for a while lose his throne, be bereft of his reason, imagining himself an ox, and live in the open fields, but be again restored to his power, finally convinced of the supreme might and goodness of the Most High. With holy freedom, although in vain, the Prophet exhorted the king to forestall such punishment by atoning for his sins by deeds of mercy; and Daniel’s prediction was fulfilled to the letter (iv). For a parallel to this, see Abydenus’ account (second century B.C.) quoted in Eusebius (Præp. Evang. IX, xl). Continue reading