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