“I long to see you bathed, drowned in the blood of Christ crucified. And I am telling you that then you will have a name, and I will have found my son again! So bathe, drown yourself, in the blood without discouragement, without despondency!” ~St. Catherine of Siena
I was praying on a Friday knowing this was both a day and an invitation to contemplate the cross of Christ. I had just prayed Morning Prayer with parishioners online, and reading through some Psalms translated by Nan Merrill she opined that I am called to “trace [fears] to the source, rooting them out as weeds.” I then turned to my reading on St. Catherine and came across a letter of hers penned to one of her young disciples who suffered from melancholy and anxiety. The realities found in her letter could have been addressed to me, and she advised him to bathe and drown himself in Christ’s blood.
I put my head down on my desk as I knew I was to stop and pray with St. Catherine’s words. I rotated between the two Collects for Friday and a vision of Christ on the cross. I looked up and for a moment was scared because my vision was blurred and I could not see clearly. Although this temporary blurriness was a few seconds it felt like several minutes. When my vision came to I saw a St. Francis-like cross up and outside my window, and realized my past images of Christ’s cross were not bloody enough. How could I bathe and drown myself in His Blood with this image? I prayed to Jesus to show himself to me. I prayed to Catherine to “go and get him for me.” I then saw visions of blood being poured over my fears and anxieties. The blood was thick and ever flowing. My anxieties were like large square ice blocks, but they were not melting. Were they being drowned? I then felt compelled to pray, “Let your blood teach me. Let your blood teach me” over and over again as I imagined Christ crucified. All of a sudden, I felt physically sick like I needed to throw up. My body dry heaved twice. Nothing came out, but I was forced to the ground and onto my knees. Nothing came up, but I had a sense that something was released. I stayed on the ground head first for a while, abdomen pained and still with the vision of Christ’s cross. I then turned over on my back breathing while my tongue and muscles surrounding my tongue hurt and strained because of what my body had done. I then saw a cockroach run up the wall. I imagined it to be my sins? I imagined it to be what I had just thrown up/my anxiety? I imagined it to be the devil? Then the roach fell and flew to the ground toward me. I dodged him before he hit my face getting up ready to see him. I felt I needed to kill him. I picked up a Bible to do so and it was gone. Was it real? I think so, but I have my doubts. The Psalm, “My heart teaches me night after night,” then came to me as a longing for God (not man) to be the one to teach me from now on. His first lesson was an image of His sacred heart. He was pointing to it like an icon. I suddenly realized that His heart (like all hearts) pump the blood through the body. Will his blood continue to drown my anxieties? I prayed for God to drown me in his Blood. I wanted it to be real, to be messy. I wanted Him to drown me and revive me in his Blood taking my breath and replacing it with His own.
There is no judgment within me. Only his blood.
There is no anxiety within me. Only his blood.
There is no fear that I cannot withstand because his blood is within me.
His heart is my heart. He points to it reminding me.
I am destroyed. I am no longer.
St. Catherine: Pray for me.
It is no longer satisfactory or satisfying to know about God. I want to know God – know God more deeply and truly. Paradoxically, I build on my relationship with God by knowing more about the saints of the church to the point of praying to them asking them to intercede on my behalf. They’re friends of God and I want to be in their circle and nobody else’s.
I know not only am I to have my sins always before me, but also the redeeming, sanctifying, drowning blood of Christ.
I know that I must face my fears by trusting in His Blood. His blood will teach me.