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Within Thy Wounds

“Anima Christi” – 6

(1. Soul of Christ, sanctify me.)

(2. Body of Christ, save me.)

(3. Blood of Christ, inebriate me.)

(4. Water from the side of Christ, wash me.)

(5. Passion of Christ, strengthen me.)

- – – – -

O good Jesus, hear me.
Within thy wounds hide me.
O bone Iesu, exaudi me.
Intra tua vulnera absconde me.

This is not a gloomy prayer, but it is a realistic one.  At times – no matter how intoxicated we are with the blood of Christ, no matter how strengthened by his Passion – at times we all need a refuge from what hurts or threatens us.  The very best hiding place is Jesus himself, who calls us to share his wounds and who graciously shares all our wounds.

A number of years ago, I had been having a very difficult and painful year.  One morning, helping out away from home for a month or so, I was praying, and I seemed to hear —

— Pardon me, but I need to pause here for a brief aside.  I want to underline the words “I seemed to hear,” because too often people (who as far as I know are not prophets with the right to proclaim, “Thus says the Lord”) — too often people recite verbatim what they have heard from God, as if God were dictating to them precise words in English.

Perhaps I am too suspicious, but I tend to believe that, although God certainly does speak to us, our hearing is not infallible, and we listen inevitably through our personal filters.  I am reminded of the acquaintance who called me one morning with the announcement, “I heard the Lord tell me not to go to work this morning.”  Yeah, right, I thought.  Why doesn’t God give me that message more often?

I am also reminded of the story about the president of a Christian-sponsored university who called a wealthy woman in town and said to her, “Mrs. So-and-So, I spoke to the Lord this morning, and he told me that you were going to give a substantial donation to our fund appeal.”

Whereupon Mrs. So-and-So replied, “Well, Mr. Jones, that’s strange, because I talked to the Lord this morning too, and he didn’t tell me a thing about it.”

But God does speak to us, probably more often in the depth of our hearts than in actual words.  So anyhow, that particular morning, in my own prayer, aware of the long painful months behind me, I seemed to hear God say to me — though not in a voice, rather in my heart — “It will continue to hurt, but I will be with you in it.”

And it was true.  After I returned to the situation I had left, the pain did not cease, but God was with me in the pain.

Note that the proof of my listening was in the living-out.  I accepted what I had heard at the time of hearing it, but it was shown to be of God in the living out of what I had heard.

And it was only in looking back later that I could name my experience a kind of hiddenness in the wounds of Christ.  While this refuge did not shelter me from suffering, I was no longer overwhelmed by it, and the gift of peace was given (limited, I must add, by my ability to receive it).

Within thy wounds, hide me.

When my wounds, when your wounds, are united with the wounds of Christ, then our sufferings become redemptive, not only for ourselves, but for the world.  Saint Paul says in Colossians:

I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (1:24).

Not quite on the theological level of Saint Paul, but still worth paying attention to is Leonard Cohen, whose song, “Anthem,” has this line in the refrain:

“There is a crack, a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”

Perhaps the cross can be seen as a sacred crack in the universe that lets the divine light in, that divine light that heals and saves and brings peace.  And perhaps our own wounds, united with the wounds of Christ, can be seen as cracks in us that can let in the light of God.

O good Jesus, hear me,
within thy wounds hide me.

O bone Iesu, exaudi me.
Intra tua vulnera absconde me.

- – – – -

“Blue marble” image courtesy of NASA, edited by Rose Hoover, rc

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