From Soul of Christ
The third petition of the Anima Christi prayer invites us to enter fully into the new life of the Paschal Mystery – Jesus’s suffering, dying, and rising for us.
Blood of Christ…
The church has always had a special devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ, as we know from reading the New Testament.
You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God, (1 Peter 1:18-2).
Blood is a very powerful symbol of both family and life. Sharing blood means sharing life: to be part of a family. The loss of blood means death. Shedding blood for another is to save and love them in an unparalleled way.
In the Old Testament, the Covenant between God and his Chosen People was celebrated with the blood of animal sacrifices. In the New Covenant, Christ’s sacrifice of his life and his very blood is the only and final sacrifice for our redemption. The passion and death of Jesus on the cross is the definite expression of all those symbolic meanings of blood – but transformed in the light of his resurrection. When we are baptized, we enter into Christ’s death and resurrection: we each become a child of God and part of God’s family; we are freed from the power of sin and come to life in Christ; and we share in the self-giving love of Jesus, called to extend his reconciliation here on Earth to all humanity.
What might have been going on in Jesus’s mind and heart when he lost so much blood at the scourging; as he hung on the cross and felt his life and strength drain away? If we listen to the words Jesus spoke at those extreme moments, we discover that Jesus was not engulfed by self-pity, sorrow, loss, or anger. “Father, forgive them.” “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” “It is finished.” His thoughts and sentiments, even at these moments of enormous anguish, were about the Father and about saving us.
The Precious Blood of Jesus poured out for us on the cross bridges the gaps of time, Earthly sorrows, and doubts that weaken our faith. The Precious Blood of Jesus shed for us is mysterious, stark proof of God’s faithful love for us.
Many saints have struggled to express their devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus. Saint Catherine of Siena meditated so deeply on the passion and death of Jesus that she begins many of her letters with the phrase, “In His Precious Blood.”
In the Mass, we are invited to enter anew into this shedding of Christ’s blood for us. Though Jesus is fully present under both the consecrated bread and wine, the bread and wine are separate and are consecrated separately. This separation is symbolic of the death of Jesus – the separation of his blood from his body. It is another reminder of the reality we celebrate in every Eucharist: Jesus offering himself for our salvation. This petition, Blood of Christ, inebriate me, invites us deeper into the mystery of our redemption.
A clue to our spiritual tradition is included in the second part of this petition.
Considering the sacrificial nature of the words, Blood of Christ, wouldn’t we expect the invocation to be “save me” or “cleanse me”? Instead, we pray with these unexpected words: inebriate me. “Inebriate” is a term usually associated with a drunken, stupefied state. When someone is inebriated, they are taken over by alcohol; their behavior changes. When we pray this petition, we are asking to get drunk or to be immersed in Jesus. We ask Jesus to flood us with himself, with his life and love, so that he can take over in us. We ask Jesus to begin or to deepen that process by which we are transformed into him.
“To be inebriated” is also used to describe being immersed in an experience, for example, inebriated with joy. To be inebriated changes our attitudes and our behavior. In this petition, then, we are clearly not focusing solely on the sorrow we could feel over the passion and death of Jesus. Instead, we are asking for the grace to be immersed and transformed by the Precious Blood of Christ. Bathed and inebriated in the love of Jesus, we can enter more fully into his resurrection, the fullness of life he offers to us. The elation of being loved by God in Christ transforms our vision of ourselves, others, the world, our future, our way of living Christ in the world.
Deep joy is a characteristic of holy people. Saint Francis of Assisi, also known as “God’s Jester,” was in excruciating pain when he wrote the exuberant, Canticle of the Sun. Martyrs such as Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Saint Lawrence, Saint Isaac Jogues, Blessed Miguel Pro, and countless others amaze us with their joy at the point of death, so immersed are they in the love of Christ. Saints especially known for their charity – such as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Philip Neri, and Saint Josephine Bakhita – were admired for their spirit of joyful service.
When we are captivated by Christ’s love, we find deep joy. In this petition, we beg Jesus for what he most wants to give us: to allow his transforming love and grace to so fill us that we joyfully rise with him!