ANIMA CHRISTI: Chapter Twelve (Part Two)—In The Light Of God’s Word by Marie Paul Curley
Meditations on a Timeless Prayer
From Soul of Christ
Theme for Holy Hour:
Offering Ourselves With Jesus
Suggested opening hymn: “Pan de Vida,” by Bob Hurd and Pia Moriarty (based on John 13:1-15, Galatians 3:28-29)
or “Panis Angelicus” (Bread of Angels), traditionally attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas,
or “See Us, Lord, About Your Altar,” written by John Greally.
Adoring Jesus In His Word
And from the throne came a voice saying,
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
small and great.”
Then I heard what seemed to be the
voice of a great multitude, like the
sound of many waters and like the
sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready;
to her it has been granted to be clothed
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are
invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
And he said to me,
“These are true words of God.”
The glory of the Mass
Every time we participate at Mass, we have a foretaste of the Heavenly banquet described in this reading from the Book of Revelation as the wedding feast of Jesus, the Lamb of God, and his bride, the church.
The Eucharist is our close encounter with God, our way to holiness. The Eucharist is also “the source and summit of Christian life,” (Lumen Gentium, no. 11). It unites Earth and Heaven in praising God. The Eucharistic Celebration is the only perfect prayer of praise because Jesus offers himself with us: in the Eucharist, all of creation is raised in praise and self-offering to God in Christ.
At the Eucharistic Celebration, we are privileged to celebrate the holiest of mysteries, although much of its glory is hidden under the veil of the words and gestures of the priest and those who are participating. Jesus truly offers himself at every Mass and is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, but both his sacrifice and presence are hidden from our ordinary sight. In Heaven, there will be no veil. We will see Christ face-to-face; we will finally be truly and fully united with him.
The saints and the Mass
The glory of the Eucharist, this great Mystery of Love, is too vast for us to contemplate most of the time. But every once in a great while, the Holy Spirit’s breath stirs and briefly lifts up the veil for us, sometimes through the lives of the saints.
Many saints had a particularly strong love for the Eucharist:
- Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was initially attracted to Roman Catholicism because of the Eucharist.
- Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), a stigmatist who participated visibly in Christ’s passion, took an hour to prepare for celebrating his daily Mass, which could last up to three hours due to his great reverence, tears, and contemplation.
- Saint Clare of Assisi raised the Eucharist above the walls of her convent to protect the sisters against armed invaders. The invaders fled in fear, leaving the convent unharmed.
- Saint Paschal Baylon, a simple Franciscan friar of sixteenth-century Spain, risked death to defend the Eucharist before an anti-Roman Catholic mob.
Saints famous for their writings about the Eucharist:
- Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Saint Ambrose, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Peter Julian Eymard, and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, among others.
Martyrs of the Eucharist:
- Saint Tarcisius, a young man who lived during the early Roman persecutions of the Christians. While bringing Communion to imprisoned Christians awaiting martyrdom, he died protecting the Eucharistic hosts from sacrilege.
- Saint Pedro de Jesús Maldonado, a priest in Mexico who encouraged Eucharistic adoration. Father Pedro was carrying the Eucharist when he was caught by soldiers for violating the government ban on celebrating the sacraments. He was able to consume the Eucharist before he was beaten to death.
These saints can inspire us to reflect on what a great gift the Eucharist has been in our lives.
In your own words, or using the words of the Gloria, lovingly praise Jesus in the Eucharist.
Following Jesus Way
As you reflect or pray with these words of Blessed James Alberione, in your own words add what you most appreciate about the Mass.
Blessed James Alberione’s writing style is usually spare and direct. But when trying to describe the Mass, he becomes almost poetic. This excerpt is from a meditation he gave:
The Mass! Daystar of prayer, queen of devotions, source of the water of life and of the grace which the sacraments communicate!
The Mass! The most effective suffrage for the souls in purgatory!
The Mass! Light, sacrifice, the grafting of the precious olive into a wild olive – sinful human beings.
The Mass! The glory of the priest, the strength of martyrs; the nourishment of virgins; the hidden power of apostles, writers, and preachers; and the joy of the true Christian!
The Mass, celebrated in eternity by the supreme High Priest in Heaven, glorifies God and brings joy to the blessed.
Once when I was struggling with a difficult, deeply painful situation, the Holy Spirit “lifted the veil” of the Eucharist for me. For several months, I had felt as if God had abandoned me. One particular day at Mass, I received the grace to offer more fully the painful situation in union with Christ. Time stopped. It was as if I was standing beneath the cross, offering my life with Jesus.
What startled me wasn’t just that I offered myself with Jesus, but that Jesus was offering himself with me. Until then, I hadn’t known that one of the greatest sufferings I’d ever undergone could be so intertwined with one of the greatest joys I’d ever know: to be so closely united with Jesus.
When have you experienced more profoundly the mystery of the Eucharist?
As you reflect on how to live a Eucharistic life, express to Jesus your desire to live in greater union with him through your participation at Mass.
All of us are called to live Eucharistic lives – lives of thanksgiving, praise, and self-offering. How can our prayer become more Eucharistic? How can we live a more Eucharistic life?
For the praise of his glory
As we increasingly put God at the center of our prayer, hopefully we can also begin to put him at the center of our lives, as Saint Paul does: “In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory,” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
In Union With Jesus
To “live for the praise of his glory” means a lot more than beginning our prayer with a hymn of praise. As Saint Paul points out, the praise that God most truly wants is the praise that goes beyond words – the praise of lives dedicated to God. Wholeheartedly offering our lives with Christ in the Eucharistic Celebration is the highest praise that we can give God.
Pray this prayer adapted from the Letter to the Ephesians in the spirit of offering your entire life to the Father, with Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
You may wish to conclude your prayer with a spiritual communion using the words of the Anima Christi prayer.
(adapted from Ephesians 1:3-12)
Blessed be you, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens: May we live for the praise of your glory!
You, Father, chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before you: May we live for the praise of your glory!
Father, in your love you destined us beforehand to be your adopted children through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose and desire of your will, to the praise of the glorious grace bestowed upon us in your beloved: May we live for the praise of your glory!
Through Christ’s blood we are redeemed and our sins are forgiven – such is the wealth of your grace which you poured out upon us! May we live for the praise of your glory!
With every manner of wisdom and understanding you made known to us the mystery of your will, according to the purpose you displayed in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time – to bring all things together in Christ, things in the heavens and things on Earth. May we live for the praise of your glory!
You accomplish all things in accordance with the purpose you have decided upon and in Christ you chose and selected us in accordance with your plan by which we who were the first to hope in Christ might exist to praise your glory. May we live for the praise of your glory!
Close your adoration with a Eucharistic hymn that will remind you to offer not just your prayer but your entire life with Jesus,
such as: “Life-Giving Bread, Saving Cup,” by James J. Chepponis, or “Bread for the World,” by Bernadette Farrell.
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