Tuesday, July 30, 2019 - Updated: 9:33 am
There is a very powerful prayer from the 14th century called the Anima Christi, which means “the soul of Christ.” The prayer is still widely used today, usually after people receive the body and blood of Jesus in holy Communion.
If you’re not familiar with this beautiful prayer, it goes like this:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me; body of Christ, save me; blood of Christ, inebriate me; water from Christ’s side, wash me; passion of Christ, strengthen me; O good Jesus, hear me; within thy wounds hide me; suffer me not to be separated from thee; from the malicious enemy defend me; in the hour of my death call me and bid me come unto thee; that I may praise thee with thy saints and with thy angels, forever and ever. Amen.
Wow! Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. It is not too often that we actually pray to become inebriated.
Imagine that you have just received Communion. Mass ends. You get into your car and start driving home. Suddenly you are pulled over at a DUI-J checkpoint. That’s right, the dreaded DUI-J. Driving under the influence of Jesus checkpoint.
Would you fail the divine breath test because you were inebriated by the blood of Christ? Would the arresting officer say, “WOW! This person is so full of the body and blood of life that they are glowing, they are euphoric, they are so crazy, happy, full of joy, hope and love in the Lord that they shouldn’t be driving!”
OK, obviously I am speaking metaphorically, but it is important to seriously reflect on what is really happening every time a priest takes bread and wine, consecrates it and offers it to us as the precious body and blood of Jesus during Communion. Jesus says very clearly, “This is the bread that came down from heaven ... whoever eats this bread will live forever. ... Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (John 6:51-58).
If that doesn’t blow us away — mentally, emotionally and spiritually — then I don’t know what will. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. Forever! Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that.
It’s better than the most exciting sports game you’ll ever witness.
It’s better than the greatest rock concert you’ll ever attend.
It’s better than the most succulent meal you’ll ever eat at your favorite restaurant.
It’s better than the most awesome sex you’ll ever have with your spouse.
It’s better than any promotion, any career opportunity, any award.
It’s better than winning the Powerball lottery.
We simply couldn’t ask for anything better than the promise of Jesus: “whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Sometimes I worry that after Mass, instead of being pulled over for a DUI-J, in our rush to leave church and get back into our “regular” lives, some of us might get pulled over for:
Driving under the influence of the Eat ’n Park breakfast buffet.
Driving under the influence of Steelers Nation.
Driving under the influence of the latest sale at Monroeville Mall.
Driving under the influence of the yard work, or the office paperwork, or whatever other worries and distractions the devil puts in our way to stop us from driving under the influence of Jesus.
Today, Jesus is telling us to stop. Stop, slow down! Reflect on what you’re receiving when you say “Amen” to the body and blood of Christ. Reflect on the fact that God loves you so much that he wants to be intimately connected to you through his body and blood. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:56). Again, wow.
Stop! Slow down. Reflect. Give thanks for what you have received — not just during those few moments after you return to your pew and are waiting for the closing prayer, but:
Throughout the rest of the day.
Throughout the rest of tomorrow.
Throughout the next day and the next day after that.
As you move through the day, week, month and year, ask yourself if you’re driving under the influence of Jesus. Ask yourself if you’re inebriated with God’s love for you.
Deacon Kondrich is assigned to the parish grouping that includes Good Shepherd in Braddock, Madonna del Castello in Swissvale, St. Maurice in Forest Hills and Word of God in Rankin/Swissvale. He also serves as a chaplain at the Allegheny County Jail.