Sr. Marie Paul Curley, at top signing one of her previous books, has just released Soul of Christ: Meditations on a Timeless Prayer. Register file photo.

Christ as the centre of life

By 
  • November 8, 2014

Soul of Christ: Meditations on a Timeless Prayer, Sr. Marie Paul Curley (Pauline Books & Media, 161 pages, $17.50). 

Your relationship with Christ is not just for Sunday, says Sr. Marie Paul Curley.

Curley, a Daughter of St. Paul, is the author of Soul of Christ: Meditations on a Timeless Prayer, a book that dives into the meaning of a significant Catholic prayer while encouraging readers to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ.

No one knows who wrote the Soul of Christ (Anima Christi) prayer, Curley says, but it dates back to at least the 14th century. St. Ignatius of Loyola, a “spiritual giant in the Church,” picked it up and placed it at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises. Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Society of St. Paul, also placed the prayer at the beginning of his spiritual classic, Until Christ Be Formed in You. And Curley has been praying the Soul of Christ every day since she joined the Daughters of St. Paul in 1982.

Over time, she realized the beauty of the prayer and how it embodied the Pauline “journey towards living in union with Christ.”

“The Soul of Christ prayer and this book help to say ‘what does is it mean to really live a eucharistic life,’ ” she said. “You don’t need a doctorate to pray this prayer. It’s really simple and it’s really familiar. But yet it’s so profound.”

Curley’s book as a whole is meant to keep the reader from rushing through the prayer. It dedicates a chapter to each of the 11 lines of the prayer, with the exception of “Body of Christ, save me,” which she found so rich in meaning that it had to be covered over two chapters.

“Each line in the prayer has a whole wealth of meaning to it,” said Curley, and devoting a chapter per line “seems like the natural way to unpack the prayer for someone else.”

For the most part, readers can expect each chapter to be centred on Christ, and also to “speak to our need to be transformed in Christ,” she said.

“Right away, every chapter focuses on Christ as the centre of our lives, as someone that we need, as someone who wants to be close to us.”

Essentially, following the pattern of each prayer line, “First we begin with an encounter with Christ, and then we bring to Him our neediness... our weaknesses or the place we need to grow or our joy in Him,” said Curley.

The chapters also intentionally connect the prayer to Scripture, providing a “font of revelation.”

“There’s nothing like reading the Word of God, and so I wanted to connect the prayer with the Scripture passage. And so I did and then unpacked that Scripture passage with an hour of adoration or meditation,” Curley said.

The appendix provides the reader insight and instruction into the Pauline Hour of Adoration with a focus on engaging each part of our selves, adoring Jesus and dwelling on the truth He came to give us.

“We do that by praying with the Scripture, by reading the Scripture... taking it slow and really allowing the Scripture passage to deeply enter into our hearts and really engaging with that,” said Curley.

The Pauline Hour of Adoration also engages Jesus as a model to follow.

“He does say, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ And so we look at our lives in the light of the Scripture reading. It’s very personal,” she said.

Readers should expect to ask themselves questions like, what is my journey, what are my struggles, how is Jesus speaking to me through Scripture and how can I change and grow?

“It’s a time to really bring the needs of the world before our eucharistic Lord and... to ask Him to really bless the world and the people we’re praying for,” said Curley. “And in doing that, we ourselves are also transformed so that maybe we can make a little bit of a difference in the world when we walk out of that chapel or the church and go back to our everyday life.”

Curley will be at the Pauline Books and Media Centre, 3022 Dufferin St. in Toronto on Nov. 6 from 7 to 8 p.m. and Nov. 8 from 2 to 3 p.m. for a talk and book signing. For more information, call (416) 781-9131. 

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