On Spiritual Communion . . .
“Receiving our Lord in the Holy Eucharist is like gold. Spiritual Communion is silver.” ~ Saint Catherine of Siena
In his book “Behold the Pierced One,” Joseph Ratzinger, better known to many as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, relays an interesting story pertaining to the final days of the great Saint Augustine’s life. He wrote:
“When Augustine sensed his death approaching, he ‘excommunicated’ himself and undertook public penance. In his last days he manifested his solidarity with the public sinners who seek for pardon and grace through the renunciation of communion. He wanted to meet his Lord in the humility of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for him who is the Righteous and Merciful One.”
Saint Augustine’s love of the Eucharist, made manifest in his many prolific sermons and writings on the topic, is certainly well known and documented with abundant devotion and clarity. This was indeed therefore a profound gesture on his behalf.
In light of the rampant spread and subsequent precautions brought on by the Coronavirus, the vast majority of Catholics worldwide are facing a similar situation, albeit our abstinence from the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is not self-imposed. It does however allow us to pause and reflect:
Do we at times take the reception of the Blessed Sacrament too lightly?
Do we properly prepare our mind and heart before partaking of this most precious Sacrament?
Do we realize who it is that we in fact actually receive? Do we offer up a short prayer of thanks to Jesus afterwards?
As Saint Paul teaches us in Romans 8:28, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Perhaps we can all resolve to use this time of Eucharistic abstinence to deepen and renew our relationship with the Body of Christ.
The act of Spiritual Communion has suddenly taken center stage, wherein we unite ourselves to God through prayer. It is a beautiful way to express to God our desire to be united with him when we are unable to complete that union in the reception of Holy Communion.
Many of the saints incorporated this type of prayer into their daily lives, not being satisfied with receiving Jesus in the Eucharist once a week or even once a day. Making an act of spiritual communion for them was an essential part of the spiritual life and drew them closer and closer to God on a daily basis. Saint Thomas Aquinas called Spiritual Communion “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament, and a loving embrace as if we have already received him.” Saint John Vianney likened Spiritual Communion to “blowing on a fire that is beginning to go out but still has plenty of hot embers.”
Below are just two examples of Spiritual Communion Prayers that you can begin to incorporate into your daily lives. When this is over and the celebration of public mass resumes, it is my hope that you will continue to pray them, perhaps even committing one to memory or crafting one of your own. I encourage those of you who are Daily Communicants to take a page from the Saints’ book and seek Spiritual Communion through Jesus via prayer throughout the day as well. To quote Saint Jose Maria Escriva, “What a source of grace there is in spiritual communion! Practice it frequently and you’ll have greater presence of God and closer union with him in all your actions.”
“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.“ ~ Amen.
“Oh Jesus, I turn toward the holy tabernacle where You live hidden for love of me. I love you, O my God. I cannot receive you in Holy Communion. Come, nevertheless, and visit me with Your grace. Come spiritually into my heart. Purify it. Sanctify it. Render it like unto Your own.” ~ Amen.
We adore you O Christ and we praise you. For by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.