Middle Ground

5

Contemplating the Crucifixion of our Lord, I am struck once again by something new, although I’ve ruminated upon this mystery many times. Here we are, beginning the Lenten season, and it is appropriate to meditate upon Jesus’ Passion. We can’t get too much of it, so I’m comforted by the many saints who encourage us to dwell on the Lord’s Passion. I am reminded of my favorite line of the Anima Christi prayer, “Within Thy wounds, hide me.” And where is this line, you ask? In the middle of the prayer: the 7th line, to be exact.

The Anima Christi

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

Lately I’ve taken to praying this prayer when approaching Holy Communion, receiving it, and after while kneeling. It is a powerhouse prayer. I live in communion with it. That and the other prayer accompanying the Consecration, “Lord, I am not worthy that you enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” I live under that roof of humility, in company with other believers, who dare to approach Jesus and touch the hem of His garment.

"Middle Ground" by Susan Anderson (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2017 Susan Anderson. All rights reserved.

My husband and I just returned from NYC where we worked at the International Toy Fair, held every year around this time. We had to fly, and I’m not a fan. Sometimes I think that my fear is the inspiration God uses so that I pray for every soul on the plane, flying with me. I won’t go into that almost paralyzing fear, but let’s just say that if it weren’t for the rosary, I’d be a perfect candidate for a Bloody Mary.

It was on this flight that I wrote most of this piece.

It is plain that we are a divided people. In this country, there used to be a middle. There seems to be be no middle ground anymore. But I don’t think that Jesus ever promised a middle. In fact, he said to choose; don’t sit on the fence. He told the rich young ruler, “Sell all that you have.” We read and hear about the Lord separating us into two groups, the sheep and the goats. He said, let the wheat and chaff grow up together, and the harvest will reveal both, what is good, and what is evil. But is it He who divides us, or it we who choose His right or His left?

I am reminded that though He is our Prince of Peace, he said, “I do not come to bring peace, but instead, a sword.” Mother against daughter, son against father, daughter in law against mother in law, and so on. We have war right within our own families!

I thought of Jesus crucified in the middle of two thieves. We’re all thieves, all sinners in need of grace. Jesus is our middle. His cross grounds us in the middle. He’s there, criminalized by both, the righteous and the unrighteous, because both are imperfect. Both are in need of saving. He hangs blameless, and minds his Father’s business, nailed to the wood. His arms, hands and feet are tied to the cross. He’s not using his shepherd’s crook to herd us. His cross stands sovereign as a divider, not working against our wills, but as a sign that we must choose. And we will choose, even if we choose not to choose. Some of us will abdicate our responsibility and by spiritual laziness, choose the lower.

Recently, I read Fatima For Today by Fr. Andrew Apostoli. In it, he said that Our Lady warned us at Fatima that Russia would spread her errors all over the world. October 13 of this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Fatima miracles where Our Blessed Mother appeared to three peasant children, calling them to prayer and urging them to tell others about praying the rosary to encourage peace in the world. We need Fatima now more than ever.

I am connecting the dots and I see that here we are, polarized politically. I believe that we don’t separate our politics from our personal beliefs. Our politics reflect what we truly believe, morally, and practically.

I’ve experienced deep conversion in the past few years. I recognize the two thieves within myself, even. I’ve got the one, warring against the other, my flesh, hungry to please itself, to choose pleasure over eternal purpose. I’ve got the other thief, repentant, kneeling with her head down, afraid to look God in the eye. She can only reach his nailed foot and dare only to wash them with her tears.

Jesus gives me the choice to subdue the one and promote the other – within me – for this is all I really have control over.

So Jesus hangs on a cross as my middle, my mediator. He is the middle – The Center- My Center- of whom I revolve around.

Copyright 2017 Susan Anderson

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About Author

Susan Anderson is a wife and mother of six. A convert at age 33, she is an avid fan of Mary and keeps her sanity through rosary prayer. She helps Rob, her husband, at Cactus Game Design, provider of Bible based games and toys. Her book, Paul’s Prayers, is about her oldest autistic son. She likes music, jogging, swimming, and redoing thrift store furniture.

5 Comments

  1. Susan, I love your writing, and I find a sister in you regarding the Eucharist, and the picture of Jesus between the two thieves, within myself. The prayer is beautiful – of course, I am unfamiliar with it, but that doesn’t mean I cannot appropriate it for my own prayer life. God bless, rickee

  2. Yes Rickee, the Anima Christi is an ancient prayer from the fourteenth century. I looked up its origin, and the findings are fuzzy. One pope is attributed but that is unclear. St. Ignatius of Loyola, whom I admire for his Spiritual Exercises was devoted to this prayer and used it a lot. I wonder if like Thomas a’ Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, the author of the above prayer was so humble, he or she did not want to be known. This is likely, because the saints we most admire are the most humble. But that is my humble opinion. Thanks for reading and sharing. Love, Susan

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