Sunday, March 16, 2014

vulnerability & the anima christi

Dealing with IF means dealing with a LOT of vulnerability.

By vulnerability, I mean feeling exposed, feeling like my skin is paper-thin, feeling fragile, and feeling the victim many times of circumstances beyond my control.

I feel vulnerable when I call up a married friend I haven't spoken with for a while, because I wonder if she'll have some "news" and I dread my reaction to it.

I feel vulnerable at Sunday mass when I'm talking with Jesus and He is comforting me in my sorrow, and I really want to cry but also don't want to cry in public.

I feel vulnerable when I go grocery shopping, or to the mall, or really anywhere in public and my heart twangs when I see a pregnant woman contentedly rub her belly or a mom playing with her toddler or pushing her baby around in the shopping cart.

I feel vulnerable when someone asks me, "so, what's new?" and I can only think of what's not new, of what hasn't happened, and I have to exert a lot of effort to make it sound like I'm happy with whatever is new in our lives.

I feel vulnerable when I get pregnancy announcements out of the blue and have to put together a happy fast really, really fast.

And so on. It's like walking on eggshells a lot. It means avoiding situations where I would feel too exposed - baby showers come immediately to mind, or social gatherings where I'll be the only non-mother present. Being vulnerable means wearing my heart of my sleeve a lot - or at least it seems that way to me. I would guess only the more astute observer of human nature would see beyond my happy face - but I often feel the urge to cry, or flee, when the conversation turns to babies and pregnancy and everything my heart desires more than anything else.

So...the Anima Christi. There is a connection!

This is one of my favorite prayers. Somehow, I can't remember how, I got in the habit years ago of praying it after every mass - maybe because it is so Eucharistic:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

...and so on. (Go here for the whole prayer.)

Well, there's that one line: "Within Thy wounds, hide me" that I think is so rich and meaningful. I love the imagery, and the intimacy with Christ it describes.

Here's the thing: this morning, our choir sang the Anima Christi in Latin. Somehow, I've never done that before - we have a beautiful English version that we sing, but never in Latin. And the line "Within Thy wounds, hide me" is in Latin: "Intra tua vulnera absconde me.", I am definitely not a Latin scholar! But that has to be the root of vulnerability, right? (If it's not, someone smarter please tell me!) I think it makes sense: wounds are places we are most vulnerable. They are sensitive, not easily touched or handled. Also a weakness, because with a wound we can't function normally.

For some reason, that word really struck me: "Within Thy vulnerability, hide me."

Also, "absconde" in the Latin sounds like "abscond" that no one really uses anymore (at least I don't) but, "The thief absconded with the treasure," ran away with, post-haste! It has more urgency, more neediness, than "hide me," doesn't it?

"Within Thy vulnerability, abscond with me, quickly!" is the way I'll think of that line now =)

To meditate on Jesus' vulnerability, His wounds...and me, tucked safely there, hidden, absconded with. I find that all very comforting, and often think of laying my head on His Sacred Heart. I am vulnerable - so was He. He opened Himself to every vulnerability, literally opened His arms on the cross, opened His heart to the soldiers, embraced every kind of insult and maltreatment, and did it all with love.

Anyway, don't know if that's interesting or comforting to anyone else, but I am grateful for the little inspiration from the Lord this morning!



  1. Wow, what a beautiful reflection for Lent. Jesus' vulnerability... I love that. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. This is my favorite prayer. I pray it after Communion every Mass as well. I actually have a draft post that I've been debating whether or not to post that has the whole thing at the end, with two lines bolded - "within Thy wounds, hide me" being one of them ("passion of Christ, strengthen me" being the other).
    It gave me chills reading this - the good kind, that there is a reason this prayer resonates with me, that line in particular. Thank-you so much for sharing this, it is both interesting and very comforting to me.

    1. Please post your draft! I'd love to read your thoughts on this prayer =)

  3. "Within Thy vulnerability, abscond with me, quickly!"

    LOVE this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Beautiful.

  4. You got that right about being vulnerable when going through IF. It's hard to know when the next "blow" is going to come, and feel unprepared and soooo weak. I love that connection between the Anima Christi and being vulnerable!!!! Jesus was vulnerable too, and we can hide in him. We prayed a version of that prayer after Mass during the year of faith and I loved it too. I have to go find my prayer card...thank you.