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
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.
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