February 01, 2024
The Anima Christi is a traditional eucharistic devotional prayer likely written sometime in the first half of the fourteenth century. While the true author is unknown, in pious imagination it is often attributed to Saint Ignatius of Loyola who often refers to it in his Spiritual Exercises. Whatever its true author or origin, the Anima Christi is a beautiful example of prayer expressing eucharistic devotion.
It was written in a time of growing devotion to the Eucharist, paralleling the development of the elevation of the host at the Mass and exposition of the Eucharist in the monstrance for adoration outside of Mass. This desire grew from theological discussion on the merit of gazing on the Blessed Sacrament. If you reflect closely on the prayer, you can see how it helps those who pray with it to meditate on our Lord’s Passion and affirms the saving power of His Body and Blood.
The Anima Christi expresses poetically the Catholic theology of the salvific nature of the Eucharist through devoted reception, asking the Lord to sanctify, save, and inebriate us. The latter half of the prayer expresses the desire of the soul to remain with the Lord, asking that through the power of the Eucharist that he save us from the power of the Devil. This reflects the practice of receiving the Viaticum as a part of the Last Rites of the dying. Viaticum is the reception of the Eucharist as a person is dying to strengthen them for the final journey as our Lord said: “those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day” (John 6:54).
It is a brief prayer but manages to capture the depth of Catholic reflection and desire for the Eucharist. You will often find it in prayer books listed under prayers after communion. Meditating on our Lord in the Eucharist with the Anima Christi prayer is an excellent way to spend your time immediately after receiving communion. This deepens the moment of communion through adoration of our Lord as He unites Himself with you in the moment of communion as two lovers, heart to heart sharing love and receiving love.
Written by: Father Stephen Hughes
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;
separated from you, let me never be;
From the evil one protect me;
At the hour of my death, call me;
And close to you bid me; That with your saints and angels,
I may be praising you forever and ever. Amen.
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