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The Catholic Defender: Anima Christi

The origin of the prayer "Anima Christi" is uncertain, however, the prayer itself can be traced to go back to the 14th century through popular devotions. St. Ignatius Loyola (October 23, 1491 - July 31, 1551), a Spanish priest and founder of the "Society of Jesus" became a key proponent for the Anima Christi prayer.

Consider who St. Ignatius was, his history. At one time he was a man of power, he was a Soldier who had a different mindset that is common among those whose pride can cause a person to fall away from God. He grew up with much pride wanting to be famous, not for being a religious, but for being a Soldier immolating El Cid, the Knights of Camelot, and other popular stories at the time.

St. Ignatius had developed a skill with the sword winning a number of duels once killing a Moor who denied the Divinity of Christ. He was also known as a womanizer, he was a man who was pursuing his own hopes and dreams.

However, in St. Ignatius case, the Lord had a different plan. He was wounded at the Battle of Pamplona when a cannonball ricochet off a wall he was near shattering his right leg. While he was recovering, Ignatius began reading the lives of the Saints and spiritual works which transformed his life.

With a transformed life, St. Ignatius began using that fire from within that he had for personal glory and turned his whole being to promoting the Glory of God. At some point, the Anima Christi caught his eye and he placed this prayer in his classic writing, "Spiritual Exercises" that helped popularize the prayer.

The Anima Christi goes as follows:

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. Separated from Thee let me never be. From the malignant enemy, defend me. At the hour of death, call me. And close to Thee bid me. That with Thy saints I may be Praising Thee, forever and ever. Amen.

The prayer follows the importance of Jesus "Bread of Life Discourse" found in the Gospel of St. John (6:51-59). At Mass we receive the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus recognizing Jesus real presence in the Eucharist.

Before a Soldier goes into battle, it is important to prepare oneself before hand giving them the necessary aid to fulfill the mission. Taking that mindset recognizing the great need we have for Jesus in fighting the battle of life, the Anima Christi implores what is necessary to be sanctified, to be saved, to be inebriated, to be washed, and to be strengthened. Jesus who loves us without measure, does hear us, does hide us keeping us close to himself. Jesus is our Deliverer and our Protector from the evil one.

In the Anima Christi there are 11 petitions which are very important:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me

2 Thessalonians 2:13, "But we ought to give thanks to God for you always, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first-fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth."

Body of Christ, Save me

Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Blood of Christ, inebriate me

1 Peter 2:24, "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed."

Water from the side of Christ, wash me

1 John 3:2-3, "Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed* we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure."

Passion of Christ, strengthen me

Philippians 4:13, "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me."

O good Jesus, hear me

1 John 5:14, "And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."

Within Thy wounds hide me

Isaiah 53:5, "But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed."

Separated from Thee let me never be

2 Thessalonians 3:6, "We instruct you, brothers, in the name of [our] Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us."

From the malignant enemy, defend me.

Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

At the hour of death, call me

1 Corinthians 1:9, "God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

And close to Thee bid me

James 4:8,10, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you."

That with Thy saints I may be Praising Thee, forever and ever. Amen.

Daniel 7:18, "But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship, to possess it forever and ever."

On January 29, 1890 Catholic Convert, Cardinal Newman referred to the Anima Christi as his creed with a little unique translation:

“Soul of Christ, be my sanctification;/ Body of Christ, be my salvation;/ Blood of Christ, fill all my veins;/ Water of Christ’s side, wash out my stains,/ Passion of Christ, my comfort be,/ O good Jesus, listen to me/ In Thy wounds I fain would hide/ Ne’er to be parted from Thy side;/ Guard me should the foe assail me;/ Call me when my life shall fail me./ Bid me come to Thee above,/ With Thy Saints to sing Thy love,/ World without end. Amen”

The Anima Christi is a great prayer for the Spiritual Warrior who often finds themselves out on the perimeter fighting the battle keeping the faith.

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