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"Spiritual Communion" a Church Tradition for Times when We Can't Attend Mass.....

While scouring multiple Catholic websites for ideas about how to approach the cancellation of Mass, I came across the following information, which I want to share with you in hopes that it will inspire you to grow your relationship with Christ during our "walk in the wilderness"......

Getting out of the Wilderness

Catholics across the world are experiencing an unexpected and unfortunate "fast" from the Eucharist, due to the coronavirus. This inability to receive Sacramental Holy Communion has become an unimaginable Lenten penance.

As Pope John Paul II explained in his encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia: "unlike any other sacrament, the mystery [of communion] is so perfect that it brings us to the heights of every good thing: Here is the ultimate goal of every human desire, because here we attain God and God joins himself to us in the most perfect union." Precisely for this reason it is good to cultivate in our hearts a constant desire for the sacrament of the Eucharist.

So what do we do if it is not possible to attend mass and receive the sacrament? How do we get out of the Wilderness?

These questions were the origin of the practice of "spiritual communion," which has happily been established in the Church for centuries and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life:

“When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass,

you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice;

by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you.”

St. Teresa of Avila

[Spiritual Communion is] “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament

[in Communion at Mass] and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

Obviously, receiving sacramental Communion is the way to most fully participate in the Holy Mass, but in situations like we are facing now, the necessity of uniting ourselves with Jesus is paramount to our continued faith development and to maintaining hope and courage to conquer the difficulties that we are facing. Making a spiritual Communion provides an avenue for God's graces to continue to be poured out upon us during this difficult time.

The Value of Spiritual Communion when we cannot attend Mass

According to Catholic theologians, the value of a spiritual communion can be as great as Holy Communion itself:

"Spiritual Communion, as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus Liguori teach,

produces effects similar to Sacramental Communion,

according to the dispositions with which it is made,

the greater or less earnestness with which Jesus is desired,

and the greater or less love with which Jesus is welcomed and given due attention,"

Father Stefano Manelli, O.F.M. Conv., S.T.D., in his book Jesus our Eucharistic Love

“If we are deprived of Sacramental Communion, let us replace it,

as far as we can, by spiritual communion, which we can make every moment;

for we ought to have always a burning desire to receive the good God.

Communion is to the soul like blowing a fire that is beginning to go out,

but that has still plenty of hot embers; we blow, and the fire burns again.

When we feel the love of God growing cold, let us instantly make a spiritual Communion.

When we cannot go to the church, let us turn towards the tabernacle;

no wall can shut us out from the good God.”

St. Jean-Marie Vianney

How do we make a Spiritual Communion?

While there is no formula prescribed by the Church to make an act of spiritual communion, St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868), the French “apostle of the Eucharist,” suggested the following format: :

“If you do not receive (holy Communion) sacramentally, receive spiritually by making the following acts: conceive a real desire to be united to Jesus Christ by acknowledging the need you have to love His life; arouse yourself to perfect contrition for all your sins, past and present, by considering the infinite goodness and sanctity of God; receive Jesus Christ in spirit in your inmost soul, entreating Him to give you the grace to live entirely for Him, since you can live only by him; imitate Zacheus in his good resolutions and thank our Lord that you have been able to hear Holy Mass, and make a spiritual Communion; offer in thanksgiving a special act of homage, a sacrifice, an act of virtue, and beg the blessing of Jesus Christ upon yourself and all your relatives and friends.”

St. Eymard's writings inspire us and give us things to think about and ways to prepare ourselves for making a spiritual Communion. The same standard of being in good standing with the church and of having confession as needed still apply. Presuming those things are addressed already, here is an image I found that captures four steps (4) for making a good spiritual Communion:

There are many prayers composed by various saints that are part of the Church’s rich treasury of devotions that can be used as prompts for spiritual communion. One of the more popular of these prayers (possibly because it encompasses each of the four steps above) comes from St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787):

When to Make It?

This prayer can be said anytime of the day or night, but will be most powerful when we unite it with the Mass as the priest consecrates the host and celebrates Sacramental Communion - whether we are in the Church or watching the Mass online. Speak to Our Lord with the same spirit as if you had just received Him at Holy Mass. The act of receiving Christ into your heart at this moment is what makes it such a powerful act, because you and all those attending and/or watching that mass are all inviting Him to dwell within you spiritually:

"For where two or three have gathered together in My name,

I am there in their midst."

Matthew 18:20

I hope this helps you to get even more out of the online masses you are watching, and offers you a way to unite your spirit with Jesus during that time and at any time of the day or night, so you can feel uplifted and whole again!

I have attached a printout of the "Act of Spiritual Communion" prayer HERE.

Please feel free to share this with anyone you know, so they can take advantage of this wonderful tradition of the Church.

May God Bless You now and always,

Cris Reeder

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