I have a question concerning the ESV version of the Bible published by Concordia Publishing House. In the prayers section at the end there is a prayer called "Soul of Christ." It was written by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. The prayer starts, "Soul of Christ sanctify me." What is the meaning of this? Doesn't the Spirit sanctify using the means of grace? My pastor thought the term "Soul of Christ" a bit "Romish" and confusing. Better to start such a prayer with "Holy Spirit sanctify me," or "Spirit of God sanctify me." Your comment.
The prayer has been attributed to Iganatius of Loyola, but it appears to have been written well before the lifetime of Ignatius. The prayer has a long history of usage by Roman Catholic Church members in connection with their daily Mass. Phrases in the prayer highlight the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who took on human flesh.
When it comes to the Triune God’s actions toward the world and the people of the world, specific acts are ascribed especially to each person of the Trinity: Father, creation; Son, redemption; Holy Spirit, sanctification.
Sanctification means to “set apart.” In the wider sense of the word, the Holy Spirit sanctifies people when he calls them out of the unbelieving world to be holy people in God’s sight through Spirit-given faith (1 Corinthians 6:11). In the narrower sense of the word, the Holy Spirit sanctifies Christians by leading them to detest sin and live life God’s way (Psalm 119:104, 112). As you noted, the Holy Spirit sanctifies people through the means of grace.
While the work of sanctification is especially ascribed to the Holy Spirit, it is not surprising to read that the Bible also speaks of Jesus’ role in sanctification (Hebrews 2:11). We find something similar when the Bible teaches Jesus’ involvement in creation (John 1:1-3)—a work that is especially ascribed to God the Father.
I understand the confusion that can result with a prayer that begins “Soul of Christ, sanctify me…” Lutheran worshipers appreciate the clarity and comfort of a prayer like this: “O Holy Spirit, come to me with your comforting Word, which alone can drive away my doubts. Direct me to my Savior, Jesus, that I may trust in him with my whole heart. Amen.” (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal, page 134)