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January 23, 2013     

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Anima Christi: A Mystical Prayer

by Friar Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

This prayer touches us on a profound level. The words are most sacred and, with the Spirit’s help, they can lead us into an immediate union with Christ.

The Anima Christi (Soul of Christ) has been attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), but historians say that the prayer predates Ignatius by as much as a century-and-a-half. Also, a long tradition tells us that it was a favorite prayer of his. In many cases, in fact, it served as the opening prayer of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. This sacred prayer is sublime and seems to transcend all time, all centuries.

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 your wounds, hide me.
Let me never be separated from you.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
In the hour of my death, call me,
And bid me come to you,
That with your saints I may praise you
Forever and ever. Amen.


Breaking the Anima Christi down line-by-line, I will reflect briefly on each of them.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
O Jesus, may your soul—vast as the universe—invade my whole being and draw me closer to you.

Body of Christ, save me.
I open myself to your love. Embrace me with your healing and transforming power. I am especially moved by this prayer when I reflect on it after receiving the body and blood of Christ at Holy Communion—or after Mass has ended.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
You have redeemed me, Jesus, by your blood shed upon the cross. At the Eucharist, I receive that blood in the form of wine. Your burning love is so overwhelming that I become intoxicated by the intensity of your love for me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Yes, Jesus, let the water flowing from your side cleanse me, as did the life-giving water that flowed over me at Baptism. And may this saving stream never stop flowing through me!

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
It is your power, and not my own, that heals me and makes me strong. As the psalmist says, “Unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build” (Ps 127:1). Your strength alone is my source of hope.

O good Jesus, hear me. Within your wounds hide me.
I experience something very mystical and intimate, Jesus, when I hide there.

Let me never by separated from you.
Loving Savior, these words express for me the most central theme of the Anima Christi. Keep me aware that this prayer is not so much a gaining of information about you, O Jesus, as it is a growing into a more intimate love union with you.

From the malignant enemy, defend me.
These words are similar to the closing words of the Our Father, which teach me to say: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Loving Lord, set me free from any malignant force that separates me from you—and from life itself!

In the hour of my death, call me, and bid me come to you that, with your saints, I may praise you for ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus, I need your help to reach my final destination in your heavenly kingdom. Stay with me to the end so I can join in singing your praises with all who are saved by your overflowing and immense love!

Friar Jim's Inbox

Readers respond to Friar Jim Van Vurst's January E-spiration, Catechism Quiz: Jesus and the Canaanite Woman

Friar Jim: Thank you for such a beautiful explanation of what was going on in the story of the Canaanite woman. May God bless you for this insight! Clementina

Friar Jim: St. Mark tells this story as well. A number of years ago, I read an analysis of St. Mark’s Gospel by a famous English Anglican minister. He thinks the dialogue between Christ and this woman was light banter and that St. Mark was showing that the Lord had a good sense of humor. Makes good sense to me. He’ll need a sense of humor when I appear for judgment! Chuck

Friar Jim: I am writing this from Zimbabwe. Your newsletter on the Canaanite woman was wonderful. Can life be better for this country? Oh, yes, even the dogs can feed from the scraps from the master’s table. Zimbabwe will survive! In faith, we soldier on. Bob

Friar Jim: Thank you for your beautiful reflection on the interaction between Jesus and the Canaanite woman. I will remember this when times get tough. God may be drawing a deeper faith from me. Jori

Dear Clementina, Chuck, Bob, and Jori: As you point out, the Gospels are full of surprises and the unexpected. Jesus was surely elated to see this woman’s faith and persistence. His poor apostles were given a lesson on what faith really is. Some people we might judge to be distant from God are, in fact, closer than we are ourselves. Only God can see the human heart. Friar Jim

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I am Friar Jack Wintz, and I hope you'll enjoy all of the news about what's happening at AmericanCatholic.org as well as my own “Musings.” By the way, I am a real Franciscan friar, as is my co-worker, Friar Jim.
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