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Do things seem more topsy-turvy than ever, not just in the world but in our church as well? This prayer for Christ’s protection is quite timely, in an era of apostasy, scandals being uncovered, and people walking away from the Catholic faith, or otherwise paying it lukewarm lip service at best. It has resonances of two other well known prayers, St. Patrick’s Breastplate and the Anima Christi.
May the Lord Jesus Christ be with me, that He may defend me; may He be within me, that He may conserve me; may He be before me, that He may lead me; may He be after me, so that He may guard me; may He be above me, that He may bless me, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
This is an especially good time to ask for our Lord’s protection and to keep asking, even in the midst of darkness, confusion and despair, when it seems like He’s nowhere to be found. (King David and other psalmists often did so, as we read in a number of the Psalms, such as in Psalm 22)
A major problem we have nowadays in Catholicism is that many in the clergy, and in the laity as well, lack the supernatural faith crucial for receiving the moral and spiritual support Jesus fervently wants to give us in the sacraments we can receive only in His church!
This prayer can help provide a good reminder that Jesus Christ isn’t just some historical figure, or some wise prophet/philosopher who lived two millennia ago. He was indeed crucified by the Romans, but not just as some earthly “revolutionary” taking them on. He wasn’t just the “golden rule” guy.
In His earthly ministry Jesus performed many miracles, the most important one of which was His resurrection from the dead after His brutal execution at Calvary. He is the Son of God the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, as we say every Sunday in reciting the Nicene Creed at Mass.
Jesus is really and truly present in tabernacles all over the world and at every Mass in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity! And He wishes to give us all the graces possible for our salvation and sanctification.
Christ has also been present in near-death experiences, including some to people who previously didn’t believe in Him at all! There have also been Eucharistic miracles that attest to the validity of His Real Presence in hosts consecrated by priests at Mass that have emitted blood, as well documented in this book.
If it seems like He’s distant and uncaring, rest assured that He is very much with us in the midst of our troubles and wishes to comfort us and give us strength. He also wants us to unite our sufferings with His on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, the redemption of sinners and the salvation of souls!
Out of His love for humanity Jesus allows us to choose to love Him, rather than forcing us, and that means letting us choose His good over Satan’s evil. Our free will often gets us into big trouble, given our fallen nature. Nowadays the Good Shepherd’s sheep are frequently in danger from the wolves.
It doesn't help that a number of the shepherds of Christ’s church, His priests and bishops, have been behaving like the hirelings He warned us about (John 10:12).
Tragically, with the unfolding revelations of decades of scandals coming to light in the clergy both here in the United States and worldwide, it seems like far too many of them have been acting worse, more like wolves in sheep’s clothing!
Thus scandalized and rightly outraged, the laity is stepping up to demand real change and reform to purge the church of abuse and abusers. It is easy for many of us to question once again where God is in the midst of all this. And yet He is suffering what has been called a Passion in His church this time of devastating proportions!
While the gates of hell will not prevail against His Catholic church, it is definitely undergoing such a storm as to encourage many to abandon ship as it were, and walk away from the faith, embittered by all the hypocrisy of the past few decades.
Yet walking away from the Catholic church means walking away from our Lord's sacraments, as mentioned earlier, and a rich 2000 year old magisterial tradition abused by sinners, to be sure, but also cherished and nurtured by saints.
A church plagued by hypocritical scoundrels, but also one filled with people, who, inspired and nourished by the triune God, established hospitals, orphanages, universities, Western governance, holy communities, and faith-based organizations quick to lend a needed hand in times of natural disasters.
Walking away from Christ’s church means Jesus will have fewer good people there to inspire sanctity in others as well!
If nothing else, our Lord can remind us that this crazy world isn’t everything! Our earthly journey is more like a probationary pilgrimage on our way to an eternity of joy and peace with God in heaven or hatred and regret with Satan and his demons in Hell!
How can we get help from Christ to deal with life's absurdities and tragedies? As He Himself said in the Gospels, it's simple: ask for it! And keep asking in prayer, which gives us His much needed graces to overcome our moral weaknesses.
And partake of His sacraments, as mentioned earlier, on as regular basis as possible! You can also visit Him in tabernacles and Eucharistic adoration in Catholic churches throughout the world, as described in part here.
Jesus is ready to assist anyone who approaches Him with a loving and contrite heart to follow Him in His Commandments, the Ten given to Moses that are really laws of love, although to us sinful human beings they often seem more like rules to ignore or evade somehow!
We can ask Jesus for protection from various forms of errant belief that can cause so much trouble in the long run, such as the deadly snare of moral relativism gone amok, where each person becomes His or her own God in ethical matters, and right and wrong are in the eye of the beholder.
He can also help you avoid or break free from the snares of occult practices and substance abuse, both of which can be doorways to the demonic or otherwise ruin lives.
Jesus can also help protect you from falling into the trap of thinking you can do everything yourself, and work out your salvation without His help. This usually creates in many of us a gnawing feeling of despondency when things don’t turn out according to plan.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield Illinois put it quite well about our need for Christ’s protection: “In the end, Christ has conquered, but during our lifetime on Earth, we need to be aware of evil influences all around us. Since we live in a secular culture, the evil one is a strong influence. That is why it is so important to stay close with Jesus Christ. If we are not doing that, we have no protection and that is very dangerous.”
In asking our Lord for protection and making Him front and center in our lives, we can put on the armor of God that St. Paul referred to in Chapter 6 of his letter to the Ephesians; and withstand with the shield of faith Satan’s assaults on us in various forms of adversity, misery and despair!
Remember as well, when faced with misfortune, that heaven includes quite a few saints who went through their own “dark nights of the soul” and periods of doubt and dryness that we all experience.
Keep in mind when you find yourself bearing grudges that offering your sufferings to Jesus can help you from picking the scabs of your wounds. As St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians “don’t let the sun go down on your anger: do not give a place to the devil” (Eph 4:26-27). Don’t let the devil get a chance to work on you!
You may feel lonely at times in trying your best to do God's will. It certainly was for Jesus in His earthly ministry, particularly at its brutal end. Remember nontheless that He is with you in good times and bad, especially in bad.
As He told His apostles “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, or be afraid” (John 14:27). Let Jesus be your anchor, your port in a raging storm.
If the world is headed towards Crazytown, go with Him in the opposite direction, nourished and strengthened by the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance from His church. Let Jesus help you be a shining light in the darkness afflicting His church and (not coincidentally) the world at large! Let Him help protect you from giving up on His supernatural gift of hope.
Keep in mind in staying close to Christ in these dark times that He will not be outdone in generosity when it comes to eternity with Him in heaven. He spoke of repaying a “hundredfold” those sacrifices offered in His name (Mt. 23:30). As St. Paul wrote once "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (2 Tim 2:12).
And, of course, St. Paul quoted this movingly motivational line from the book of Isaiah that encourages perseverance when the going gets rough: "'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, not has it entered into the heart of man, what God has prepared for those who love him'" (1 Cor 2:9).
May God give all of us doubting Thomases resilience and perseverance to stay close to Him in Catholicism during these difficult times, that we may show others His goodness in our faith!