My previous post, The Eucharist: Part I, focused on the origin and effects. Since there is so much to be said about the Blessed Sacrament, I’ll continue here…
In addition to receiving Jesus sacramentally, we can receive Him spiritually. This is known as Spiritual Communion. We can ask the Lord to come to us wherever we may find ourselves – at home, work, school, outdoors, or in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the church!
St. Thomas Aquinas described Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the most Holy Sacrament and lovingly embrace Him.” During this act, we must turn to the Lord with our whole heart – in the same way that we do when we receive Him sacramentally.
“The value of Spiritual Communion well made is enormous. We can and should make one frequently. Simply think of Jesus and how much He loves us and how much we love Him, then ask Our Blessed Mother to ask Her Divine Son to come into our hearts” (The Pieta Prayer Booklet).
To make a Spiritual Communion, we can pray formally or in our own words. Here are two examples of formal prayers:
St. Alphonsus Liguori: 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 have already come, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Sacred Congregation of Indulgences: O 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.
Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. (Repeat 3 times)
The second part of the prayer from the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences (Lord, I am not worthy…) may sound familiar. Catholics say this before receiving Holy Communion at Mass. These words come from Scripture:
As he [Jesus] entered Caper′na-um, a centurion [an officer in the Roman army] came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed…” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment (Matthew 8:5-8, 13).
Jesus was willing to go to the centurion’s home and heal the servant; but the officer believed that Jesus could use His power from afar, without being in the servant’s physical presence. Because of the centurion’s faith, Jesus answered his request.
The Lord also desires to come to each of us. He comes to us in a very tangible way through the consecrated Host and Precious Blood at Mass; but His power is not limited to time and space. The Lord can come into our hearts and souls at anytime – all we have to do is ask and have faith!
If you don’t already do so, I recommend making a Spiritual Communion daily. Remember, you can do this anytime and anywhere; however, it helps to have a routine when beginning something new. Try setting aside five to ten minutes each day for this practice. You can use one of the formal prayers above or your own words. (I make a Spiritual Communion daily and prefer to use a formal prayer.)
If you ever spend time with the Blessed Sacrament (in the tabernacle or exposed in the monstrance for Adoration), you might already make a Spiritual Communion without even realizing it! I stated in my previous post that when a person develops a devotion to the Eucharist, there’s an internal longing to be with Him. This longing is the essence of Spiritual Communion.
Not a Replacement
It’s important to note that for Catholics, Spiritual Communion is not a replacement for receiving the Eucharist at Mass on Sunday. This is a supplement – a way to remain close to Jesus throughout the week. There are very limited circumstances where a Spiritual Communion could be made in place of receiving Holy Communion on Sunday:
- If one attends Mass in a state of mortal sin and cannot receive the Eucharist. If anyone is in this situation, they would make a Spiritual Communion at Mass; and then find a priest to hear their Confession as soon as possible. (Please click here for a short video that explains the difference between mortal and venial sin.)
- If one cannot attend Mass because of a serious reason, e.g. sickness, a snowstorm or natural disaster, the car breaks down while driving there. If anyone is in this situation, they would make a Spiritual Communion; and then attend Mass as soon as possible. (They would also tell the priest that Mass was missed the next time they go to Confession.)
Spiritual Communion is a beautiful act that draws us closer to Jesus. It increases our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, which is of great benefit to us now and at the end of our lives. It helps us to focus our attention on the Lord and remain connected to Him. God loves us more than we could ever know and desires to be intimately united with each one of us. Sacramental and Spiritual Communion enable us to reciprocate and enter into that love.
The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all “thanksgiving” (Catechism, 1360).
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the United States, let us give thanks to God for His presence in our lives and the incredible gift of the Eucharist!
“There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” ~ St. Jean Vianney