ANIMA CHRISTI: Chapter Nine (Part Two)—In The Light Of God’s Word by Marie Paul Curley

Meditations on a Timeless Prayer

Chapter Nine (Part Two)—In The Light Of God’s Word by Marie Paul Curley

From Soul of Christ

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

Theme for Holy Hour:
The Power of Christ’s Eucharistic Love
Suggested opening hymn: “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” written by Charles Wesley and adapted by C. T. Andrews.
Begin with a personal act of thanksgiving for God’s saving love in your life.

Adoring Jesus In His Word

Would you like to make this passage from Romans the bedrock of your spiritual journey?  What other passage can inspire you on your daily journey to holiness?

According to these profoundly consoling words of Saint Paul, we have nothing to fear because nothing can separate us from God’s love.  Even the power of sin is subject to God’s love, because Jesus died to save us both from our sins and from the effects of sin.  Saint Paul explains that this is how we know that we are loved: “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).

Romans 8 could become the bedrock of our spiritual lives, because it helps us to focus our beliefs and our trust exactly where they belong: in God.  For Saint Paul, the love of Christ transforms his view of life so that even the most difficult or destructive of life’s circumstances are not the last word; Christ’s love is.

Images of the Precious Blood of Jesus – beating through his Sacred Heart, running down his sacred body, soaking into the wood of the cross, trickling into the ground – arouse an urgent desire to kiss his sacred wounds, to somehow express our love in return.  Shedding one’s blood and the giving of one’s own life for the sake of another is the most sacred and powerful expression of love – and Jesus did this for us.

Jesus gave himself completely for us.  The Gospel of John offers us a very powerful detail about Jesus’s passion, when the soldier pierces the side of Jesus with a lance.  Although Jesus had already died, the very last drops of his blood pour out from his heart.  Jesus saved nothing for himself, even in death.  His blood, like his love, is completely poured out for our sake.

Jesus wants us to receive the full abundance of his love.  “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10).  Receiving God’s unconditional love changes everything.  We are changed, at the very core of our being.  Even though we still go through all the trials and difficulties of life, we experience them differently.  We are no longer tossed about by our sufferings but rooted in the love of the infinite and all-powerful Creator, redeemed from our own sinfulness by the Son of God, and sanctified by the indwelling Spirit.  In every experience, no matter how difficult or tragic, we can find comfort, strength, security, and even joy on this sure foundation of God’s love.  Let us pray for the grace to know and experience always more “the breadth and length and height and depth” of God’s love for us in Christ, as Saint Paul describes it, (see Ephesians 3:18-19).

As you reflect on this reading, what is the last word for you in the difficulties that you face right now?  Express your faith in God
by praying this passage again as an act of faith: I believe that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ.

For many people, this passage is quite consoling.  But I remember a time in my life when I resisted this passage: it didn’t seem to touch me at all.  I thought that it had more to do with Saint Paul’s fervor than the love of God.  “Of course Saint Paul couldn’t be separated from God’s love – he was a saint!”

Following Jesus Way

One day when I was given this passage to pray with again, I unexpectedly realized that we have it on record that Saint Paul actually struggled with the very challenges he lists here, except for famine.  (Saint Paul certainly suffered from hunger during his travels, but I don’t remember any scriptural reference to Saint Paul suffering from a famine.)  He really knows what he is talking about because he underwent all of them: hardship, distress, persecution, nakedness, peril, sword.  And I wondered if I wrote down a list of the challenges that I’ve faced, which would come out on top – God’s love or my struggles?

My list of challenges was certainly not as dramatic as Saint Paul’s, but it was real.  I brought my list to my hour of adoration, and I suddenly realized that God’s love could reach past all of my problems; it was just that I often didn’t recognize how God was working in my problems, or around them, or in some surprising cases, through them.

Ever since then, I have asked God to allow the reality and power of his love for me to soak in.  Jesus in the Eucharist has become for me the most dramatic proof of the ever faithful, indestructible, embracing love of God who conquers every problem, every difficulty, and every challenge – not by making them disappear, but by transforming them into opportunities for me to grow in my love for the One who gave his life for me.

In the presence of Jesus, make a list of all the challenges that you have faced or are facing right now.
Present your list to Jesus, asking for the light to see how he is working in your life within these very challenges.

Blessed James Alberione offers his insight into the life of someone whose vision has been transformed by love:

When [a soul perfected in love] contemplates the Host and Jesus who immolates himself on the altar, she feels like a drop lost in the ocean of love.  “She sees all in One; she loves all in One.”  When she contemplates nature – the sea, the mountains, flowers, fruits – she does not contemplate them for their own sake, but sees in them God the Creator, who made everything out of love.  She raises herself from material things to God.  God is always present and forms one thing alone with her.  “It is God who offers me this delight now; it is God who permits this affliction for me.”

Pause to reflect on how your faith and trust in Christ’s love affect how you face the sufferings and obstacles of your life.

How has Christ’s love transformed my joys and sufferings?  When I’ve undergone experiences of death and resurrection in my life, how has God been present?

Express in your own words both your sorrow for when you did not act out of faith and love,
and your desire to let Christ’s love rule your mind, heart, and actions by praying, “Lamb of God….”

In Union With Jesus

Living in the embrace of God’s love is a mystery that may not always make sense on a human level; sometimes a life of union with Christ goes beyond our human understanding into the realm of faith, hope, and love.

Prayer

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

(Ephesians 3:16-21)

Ask for the grace to become a person transformed by Christ’s love by praying this powerful prayer of Saint Paul.
After you have finished praying this prayer for yourself, pick someone with whom you struggle to get along, and pray this prayer for them, too – that Christ’s love may transform his or her life.  Finally, pray this prayer a third time for a community that you belong to that needs the transforming power of Christ’s love – e.g., your family, your parish, your prayer group, or group of volunteers.
Suggested hymn to close your adoration: the traditional chant, “Ubi Caritas,” or “God Is Love,” written by Timothy Reeves.

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