“Do Not Let a Single Drop Be Wasted: At the Cross with Mary”
“Part 1. A Mystery of Love”
Fr. Ignatius John Schweitzer, OP
As a Church, we are currently at the foot of the Cross with Mary, gazing upon the Crucified One, with the Blood flowing forth for our salvation. Seeing the drops of Blood falling, it’s as if we hear Mary say, “Do not let a single drop be wasted!” How will we respond?
We have entered Passiontide and Holy Week, so our attention is turned more intently to the Cross of Jesus. Moreover, with the trials of the coronavirus, it’s apparent in our daily lives that we, the Body of Christ, are following our Head and currently have a special share in His Passion and Cross (cf. Col 1:24).
I have spent several weeks in an intriguing conversation with some friends through email, on a thread related to the Blood of Jesus flowing from the Cross and these words, seemingly close to our Blessed Mother’s heart, “Do not let a single drop be wasted!” My friends’ reflections have opened up for me new depths to the mystery. They have kindly agreed to have their words reproduced here if they remain anonymous. So I invite you into portions of a rather anointed conversation between A., B., and C. about the Passion of Christ and our participation in it now. They are trying to enter more fully into a mystery beyond words, so we listen with mercy to their attempts to express the inexpressible.
(A carved panel from St. Dominic church in San Francisco. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.)
A. described an experience in prayer very similar to what I described in the first paragraph above. B. responds by saying, “I’ve heard the language before of collecting the drops of Blood at the foot of the Cross with Mary, but you’ve helped me grasp better the inner core of it. I won’t express it so well here, but something is better than nothing: The wasted drops of Blood are the wasted, unrequited love of the Lord by so many, ourselves included. And Yes!, this cries out for reparation. Love cries out for this reparation (our love especially cries out for this reparation but so does divine Love). ‘Do not let a single drop be wasted!’”
The point here is that a drop of Blood that falls without being collected is an expression of the Lord’s unrequited love. He poured out his Blood in love for us. And the call is for us to respond in love. How can a drop, in a sense, be wasted? By not returning love for love! By not fully receiving His salvific work and giving an adequate response. Jesus has poured out His blood in His total self-gift and not all have received it in love; and we ourselves have failed to fully return his love at times. This calls out for reparation; love calls out for reparation. Reparation, then, is seen in terms of returning love for love.
A. responds to B.’s words a little surprised: “Wow! You can find a treasure anywhere; maybe that’s a gift of the Holy Spirit? I guess I just love reparation; Jesus has need of me and it’s something I can do in my total incapacity and weakness and need.
“The drops of Blood falling is one image (there is always echoing in my soul, ‘Do not let a single drop be wasted,’ as Mary directed). But I think the heart of it is RECEIVE the LOVE poured out, for yourself and on behalf of all those who have not, are not, and will not receive it. Do this for Jesus’ sake (that the Passion might not be in vain), for their sakes, and for your own sake, that you might love Him by receiving His love.”
C. joins in the conversation by noting how this receiving of God’s love, in receiving the Blood poured out for us, can be done on behalf of others. She has been praying for a young woman with some deep wounds. C. says, “When I received this email, I have to tell you, I just wept. This topic is so precious to me and so holy. Even to speak of this with you is to enter together at the foot of the cross and be there as the drops fall. I have been bringing a young woman to the foot of the cross in prayer. It’s a horrible abuse situation. In my prayer, I am holding her and the blood drops are hitting her. With each drop, a justice is released … like a memory healed, a demon leaving, a physical healing, a trauma healed, and so on. This vision is helping me to keep praying as the situation is dire, and her very life at stake. The Blood is the most powerful substance in the universe.”
B. responds, “You bring justice into the picture in a way I find very convincing and appealing. The precious Blood drops down into souls and into the earth, and salvation and righteousness spring up (Is 45:8). If one wanted to do an animation to capture it, I imagine the drop of Blood sinking into the earth and a sapling sprouting forth, a sapling of an oak of righteousness. (It’s the same sapling that sprouts forth from the grave of the Christ-figure [Jim Caviezel] at the end of Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line).
(from The Thin Red Line; 20th Century Fox, 1998)
“Surely the image of the grain of wheat falling into the earth to die and bear fruit (Jn 12) expresses the same reality as the Blood falling into the earth and bearing fruit—righteousness where there was unrighteousness, life where there was death. The life is in the blood, as the Old Testament knew so well. Your experience in prayer of bringing the young woman beneath the Cross to soak in the falling drops of Blood was powerful. And it highlighted for me that part of the need for us to be empty vessels, is not only to be more receptive but also to create the space in our hearts for ‘the other” to reside, as we hold him or her in our arms, below the showering of Blood/Love.”
These words from A., B., and C. open up for us some very rich aspects of being at the foot of the Cross with Mary. Catching all the drops of Blood involves receiving all the graces won for us and all the love poured out for us. We receive these effects of the salvation won for us, for ourselves and on behalf of others. And in receiving the Blood, we can pour it out on others, bathing them in the Blood of the Lamb as we bathe them with our prayers. The Blood then brings about a healing and repairing effect to the wounds of a suffering world. The Blood then is not wasted, Christ’s saving work not in vain. It’s interesting that they bring justice and reparation into the conversation, yet with a strong accent on love. We will develop more the theme of reparation in Part Two, and turn to the Eucharist in Part Three, but we conclude here with a few more inspiring reflections from our friends.
(Hendrick ter Brugghen, “The Crucifixion with the Virgin and Saint John,” 1625)
A. finds a resonance with our theme in a rich passage from St. Catherine of Siena:
“You see him with his body torn wide open on the wood of the cross, bleeding from every part; he did not redeem you with gold or silver, but with his blood in the greatness of his love. He did not redeem just half of the world but the whole human race, past, present, and future. He gave you not only his blood but fire as well, for it was through the fire of love that he gave you his blood. Nor can the fire or the blood be separated from my divine nature, for divinity was perfectly united with human nature. This blood [is] one with my divinity” (Dialogue #127).
A. comments, “This jumps out at me for a few reasons: the connection between blood and love; reparation must be a work of loving; the blood for all people of all time; reparation must include all others, because not all know to make reparation; the connection of the fire of love with blood; it’s all a work of love; and the connection of Jesus’ blood to God’s divinity. Reparation is truly a participation in Christ’s salvific act, not ‘simply’ as an intercession, but as a true sharing, and therefore requires the Cross, death, self-gift.”
B. brings forth a saying from another Saint that resonates with our theme. It’s from St. Catherine of Genoa (Spiritual Dialogue, p 119): “God deeply impressed upon her the fountains of Christ with their fiery bloody drops of love for man.”
Finally, C. brings our reflections of Part One to a lovely conclusion:
“Perhaps seeing just how powerful are those drops, causes faith, hope and love to arise in the hearts of people even though they haven’t seen it yet. The drops give the confidence that the surety of His Love in those drops will avail without fail. Eph 3:16-19… being rooted and grounded in Love… KNOWING… with certainty the height, width, depth and length of His Love.
“His love never fails. It cannot … the impossibility of that causes faith and hope to arise in people and their seemingly impossible situations.
“Those Drops are everything!”