Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Anima Christi

There are times when I need to scratch the Roman Catholic itch in me. I confess to missing some of the milestones along the Christian year that many churches choose not to celebrate or remember. I don’t want to follow a liturgy written down and parrot-fashion say the bits expected of me, but there is a beauty in the liturgy that calls to my heart. It doesn’t replace what my heart wants to say, or even say it for me so I don’t need to. It stirs me to think and reflect.

I went to St Mary’s on Sunday. Yes, I wanted my palm cross – but having read my way through a Lenten study book, I wanted to mark the day – Palm Sunday. Part of the service was reading through the gospel narrative from the Last Supper to Jesus’ death on the cross. It was at least four pages in the mass book. I closed my eyes and let the story fill me.

Standing under the spoken word of scripture is such a powerful thing. Not needing to see the words, shape them in my mind or sound them out and then onto the next one – hearing it read, being the audience to the words, not the writer or the reader, does something to the spirit rather than the mind.

This morning, into the last few days of my Lent book, the focus was on suffering. There’s nothing noble about suffering. It’s evil. Yes, it can draw out strength in some, but it can pull other people apart. What we end up suffering for is often our own personal kingdoms being threatened.

Jesus read the words of Isaiah – to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free – Jesus lived the words and in so living made enemies with the religious elite. They were content to allow the poor to stay poor because it suited them. “To keep quiet in the face of injustice and oppression, doing nothing to oppose it is a refusal to enter into the passion of Christ.”

The devotional ended with the words of Latin prayer “Anima Christi”. I don’t know Latin but I can guess that “anima” is something to do with animation and giving life to something. I choose to think is about the life of Christ in me.  This is a contemporary version.

I choose to breathe the breath of Christ
 that makes all life holy.
I choose to live the flesh of Christ
 that outlasts sin’s corrosion and decay.
I choose the blood of Christ
 along my veins and in my heart
 that dizzies me with joy.
I choose the living waters flowing from his side
 to wash and clean my own self and the world itself.
I choose the awful agony of Christ
 to charge my senseless sorrows with meaning
 and to make my pain pregnant with power.
I choose you, good Jesus, you know.
I choose you, good Lord;
 count me among the victories
 that you have won in bitter wounded-ness.
Never number me among those alien to you.
Make me safe from all that seeks to destroy me.
Summon me to come to you.
Stand me solid among angels and saints
 chanting yes to all you have done,
 exulting in all you mean to do forever and ever.
Then for this time, Father of all,
 keep me, from the core of my self,
 choosing Christ in the world.  Amen.

– Joseph Tetlow SJ

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