Anima Christi (Soul of Christ, Origin of the Prayer)

Soul of Christ

Anima Christi is a prayer which is usually prayed after receiving the Eucharist, but its depth brings us so close to Christ, that it is prayed often. The depth of this prayer and its ability to pull us to Our Lord lies in its words which, when prayed, become visual. Every line in the Anima Christi is a painting unto itself, which reaches our mind’s eye and penetrates our soul.

Reflecting on the Words

When reflecting upon this prayer, we can envision ourselves within the images created by its words. Let us consider some of these images:

“Blood of Christ, inebriate me.”
Here, we envision ourselves, body and soul, filled with the Precious Blood of Our Lord. Going deeper, we feel our blood united with His and penetrating our very being.

“Water from the side of Christ, wash me.”
We are brought to the foot of the cross where we stand, stained by our sins. His side is pierced. Blood and water begin to flow and their mist showers us. We have been washed in forgiveness. We have been cleansed by the blood and water of our Savior.

“Passion of Christ, strengthen me.”
We enter the scenes of His passion as witnesses; His agony in the Garden, humiliation before Pilate, scourging, carrying His cross, and ultimately, His Crucifixion. We know that all this suffering is for our souls. Every tear, every drop of blood, every thorn and nail was for the sake of our souls. How can we not draw strength from this? When we feel weak or defeated, all we need to do is place ourselves in the scenes of His Passion, remember that it was all for us, and our strength is restored. Our faith is heightened.

“Within thy wounds, hide me.”
When we are feeling tempted toward sin or when life seems too difficult to manage, we run to Him. We crawl into His open wounds knowing that He will hide us from the ugliness of the world. His wounds are our shelter and in His shelter, nothing can defeat or harm us.

“Suffer me not to be separated from thee.”
Sin has been described as a separation from God. There is nothing darker than separation from God. It is suffering beyond description. We go to Our Lord and plead, “Please don’t allow me to separate myself from You.” He told us, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20). So, we recall His promise and trust that He will never separate from us.

Origin of the Prayer

Many believe this prayer was written by Saint Ignatius Loyola but it was not. Saint Ignatius Loyola placed the prayer at the beginning of his “Spiritual Exercises” and often quoted it but it was written either before his birth or during his early childhood.
Its actual authorship is unknown. What we know is that it was written in the first half of the 14th century. The greatest possibility of its authorship directs us to Pope John XXII because, in the year 1330, he deepened its sacredness by adding indulgences.
We may gain a 300 day indulgence each time the prayer is prayed, a 7 years indulgence if it is prayed after receiving Holy Communion and a Plenary Indulgence if it is said every day for a month under the usual conditions.

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise thee
Forever and ever.
Amen.

Marilyn Nash for Holyart.com

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What is prayer?

Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God.

Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to the Lord in the heavens. (Lamentations 3:41)

Why do we pray?

We pray:

  1. to adore God, expressing to Him our love and loyalty;
  2. to thank Him for His favors;
  3. to obtain from Him the pardon of our sins and the remission of their punishment;
  4. to ask for graces and blessings for ourselves and others.

Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. (Matthew 26:41)

How should we pray?

We should pray:

  1. with attention;
  2. with a conviction of our own helplessness and our dependence upon God;
  3. with a great desire for the graces we beg of Him;
  4. with loving trust in His goodness;
  5. with perseverance.

And all things whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)

For whom should we pray?

We should pray especially for ourselves, for our parents, relatives, friends, and enemies, for sinners, for the souls in purgatory, for the Pope, bishops, and priests of the Church, and for the officials of our country.

But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45)

How do we know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly?

We know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly because Our Lord has promised: “If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you.”

And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)

Why do we not always obtain what we pray for?

We do not always obtain what we pray for, either because we have not prayed properly or because God sees that what we are asking would not be for our good.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it upon your passions. (James 4:3)

Prayer from the Baltimore Catechism