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Inebriate me, hide me, save me

Holy Thursday. Tonight will be the Mass of the Lord's Supper, a liturgy of unearthly beauty and heartache that will conclude by removing, in solemn procession, a golden monstrance—that sun-flared medieval repository for the consecrated host—leaving its usual sanctuary open and empty. Then, at the "altar of repose," we will kneel before a little flat piece of bread while a choir sings "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum." The scent of lilies and incense will fill the air. It will be, depending on your point of view, the dizzying celebration of a divine romance or an atheist's laugh-riot. 

You know which supper this is, and by whom. Click for the whole thing.That is what I love about the Catholic theology of the Eucharist: We take Christ at His word. "This is my Body...this is my Blood." Seriously? Oh, yes. It's why I love the lavish Baroque monstrance and hated the Seventies-era "authentic" wooden vessels and earthenware plates that the Kumbayah crowd bought for the altars.  "We are 'star-stuff,'" intoned Carl Sagan, as he spun our physical connection to the Big Bang. Well, our God who made the stars makes Himself bread stuff. Wine stuff. Body and blood stuff. Us-stuff. Bring out the good china.

Here is my favorite prayer in the entire world: the "Anima Christi," a post-Communion litany. Every line is fathomlessly deep and instantly accessible. (I know my "malignant enemy," and you know yours.) The Latin rocks, so I'll give that, too. I've seen translations that take out the word "inebriate"...not on your life.

The 'Anima Christi'

Soul of Christ, sanctify me

Body of Christ, save me

Blood of Christ, inebriate me

Water from the side of Christ, wash me

Passion of Christ, strengthen me

O good Jesus, hear me

Within Thy wounds hide me

Never let me be separated from Thee

From the malignant 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  

Forever and ever


And in Latin:

Anima Christi, sanctifica me.

Corpus Christi, salva me.

Sanguis Christi, inebria me.

Aqua lateris Christi, lava me.

Passio Christi, conforta me.

O bone Jesu, exaudi me.

Intra tua vulnera absconde me.

Ne permittas me separari a te.

Ab hoste maligno defende me.

In hora mortis meae voca me.

Et iube me venire ad te,

Ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te.

In saecula saeculorum.


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