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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Within Your Wounds Hide Me...


"Within Your Wounds
Hide Me..."
- a Reflection on "The Exaltation of the Holy Cross"
by Deacon Paul Rooney

Everyone is familiar with the great contemplative prayer that we call the Anima Christi – "Soul of Christ."  These are the opening words of a famous prayer from the 14th century; the author's name is uncertain (but the prayer is sometimes attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola since it is included in his Spiritual Exercises).  Many of us pray this beautiful prayer immediately after receiving the body and blood of Christ at Mass every day.  Here is the prayer (taken from my copy of the Spiritual Exercises, Ganss translation).
 
 
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.
Do not allow me to be separated from you.
From the malevolent 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
For ever and ever. Amen.

But what does it mean when we ask Jesus to hide us "within his wounds"?  Why do we make that request?  There is great food for hours and hours of meditation here, both on the words and on the painting itself (by Fra Angelico: "The Deposition").  I thought I would share with you some of the fruit of my own meditation, on today's Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14, 2013.

First of all, I have set aside all of my previous thoughts on the meaning of this sentence.  I used to think it meant "Lord, save me from the Evil One; he doesn't want to look at your redeeming wounds, so hide me there and I will be safe from him."  Oh, was I poverty-stricken in my thoughts!  Then the Lord came to my rescue.  When I told my wife Patricia that I had always wondered what St. Ignatius (the attributed author) really meant by this sentence, she suggested that I read a slim book called "Anima Christi."   It was written by Mother Mary Francis, PCC – the Abbess of the Poor Clare monastery in Roswell, New Mexico. (The picture above is from the cover of that book.)  I love to read, meditate and reflect on contemplative literature, and I only have one word to describe this little gem of a book: Wow!  That recommendation from my wife was a gift from the Holy Spirit!

My renewed meditation took me down a different road – the road traveled by Abbess Mary Francis.  When I started writing my thoughts, I discovered that my reflections were really hers, not mine.  So any good that follows below I attribute entirely to her, with deep gratitude.  The less-than-good is all mine.  (I also recognize that reflections can take many paths, and hers is not the only one.  As she herself says, there are "immense riches" to explore in this prayer, as God leads us.)

The painful wounds inflicted on the innocent Jesus were absorbed by him out of total love for us.  Love comes from the heart, we are fond of saying.  But that, too, reveals a mystical truth: all love comes from God, who is love.  When the sacred heart of Jesus on the Cross was pierced by a lance, blood and water flowed out – for centuries a vivid symbol of the birth of the Church from the side of Jesus.

When we ask Abbess Mary Francis about the phrase "hide me within your wounds," she tells us that (for her) it does not mean we seek to find safety therein.  Rather, it means that we are offering to become the soothing medicine, the spiritual ointment that brings healing to the mystical body of Christ, the Church.  Love accepted from Jesus always evokes a response in us; we want to become involved, to become "wounded healers," if I may borrow that phrase from the psychologist Carl Jung (made popular by Henri Nouwen in 1972).

We cannot ask to be hidden, "sealed off from being wounded ourselves."  Instead, by offering ourselves to serve the wounded mystical body of Christ, the Church, we agree to become bearers of the fruit of the Holy Spirit that St. Paul talks about so eloquently to the Galatians (5:22-23).

What about our own flaws?  Well, first we take those flaws to Jesus on the Cross, and give them to him!  In other words, we offer him all within us that is not acceptable as a healing agent, for his disposal.  Then we can take what is left in our hearts, and bring that Christ-life to others by serving them unselfishly.

The Cross is the sign of our salvation.  It speaks to us of the anima Christi.  I hope you will join with me today, and spend quality private time at the foot of a crucifix.  Speak to the wounded heart of Jesus from your own wounded heart.  Ask him what he would like from you; then open the ears of your heart to hear his answer and respond!

- Deacon Paul Rooney

3 comments:

  1. What a gift your reflection is! One of my favorite prayers has become even richer! God bless you!

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  2. Thank you so much for this reflection and insight and the gift of your beautiful blog. I will now go and find a copy of the slim book Anima Christ. God Bless...

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  3. perfect insight..it resonated within me and I find myself still smiling as I type this comment-thank-you

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