Many of us may not be in a time of life where we can make it to daily Mass. And some of us…even Sunday Mass! Well, take heart! Once you read this you will realize you have, right at your fingertips, the powerful means of growing spiritually….amidst your daily duties!
Spiritual Communion is the reserve of Eucharistic Life and Love always available for lovers of the Eucharistic Jesus. By means of spiritual Communion, the loving desires of the soul that wants to be united with Jesus, its dear Bridegroom, are satisfied.
Spiritual Communion is a union of love between the soul and Jesus in the Host. This union is spiritual but nonetheless real, more real than the union between the soul and the body, “because the soul lives more where it loves than where it lives,” says St. John of the Cross.
Faith, love, desire
As is evident, spiritual Communion assumes that we have faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle. It implies that we would like sacramental Communion, and it demands a gratitude for Jesus’ gift of this Sacrament.
All this is expressed simply and briefly in the formula of St. Alphonsus: “My Jesus, I believe that You are really present in the most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to possess You within my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. (Pause) I embrace You as being already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.”
Spiritual Communion, as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus de’ 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.
A special advantage of spiritual Communion is that we can make it as often as we like— even hundreds of times a day— when we like— even late at night— and wherever we like— even in a desert, or in an airplane.
It is fitting to make a spiritual Communion especially when we are attending Holy Mass and cannot receive Our Lord sacramentally. While the priest is receiving his Holy Communion, our soul should share in it by inviting Jesus into our heart. In this way every Holy Mass we hear is a complete one, with Offertory, sacrificial Consecration, and Holy Communion.
It would indeed be a supreme grace, to be implored with all one’s strength, if the desire of the Council of Trent “that all Christians should receive Holy Communion at every Mass they assist at” were in fact soon to be realized in the Church. So doing, anyone able to participate in more Masses every day, will also be able to make more spiritual Communions every day!
The two chalices
Jesus Himself told St. Catherine of Siena in a vision how precious a spiritual Communion is. The Saint was afraid that a spiritual Communion was nothing compared to a sacramental Communion.
In the vision, Our Lord held up two chalices, and said, “In this golden chalice I put your sacramental Communions. In this silver chalice I put your spiritual Communions. Both chalices are quite pleasing to Me.”
And Jesus once said to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the Saint so assiduous in directing her burning desires to Him within the tabernacle: “So dear to Me is a soul’s desire to receive Me, that I hasten to it each time it summons Me by its yearnings.”
It is not hard to see how much spiritual Communion has been loved by the saints. Spiritual Communion, in part at least, satisfied their ardent desire to be united to their Beloved.
Jesus Himself said: “Abide in Me and I in you” (Jn. 15: 4). And spiritual Communion helps us stay united to Jesus, even when we are far from a church.
There is no other way to appease the fond yearning consuming the hearts of the saints. “O God, my whole soul longs for You. As a deer for running water, my whole soul thirsts for God” (Ps. 41: 2).
With the loving sigh of a saint, St. Catherine of Genoa exclaimed, “O dear Spouse (of my soul), I so strongly crave the joy of being with You, that it seems to me that if I were dead, I would come to life in order to receive You in Holy Communion.”
Blessed Agatha of the Cross felt such an acute yearning to live always united to Jesus in the Eucharist, that she remarked, “If the confessor had not taught me to make a spiritual Communion, it would have been impossible for me to live.”
For St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds as well, spiritual Communion provided the only relief from the acute pain she felt when shut up at home far from her beloved Lord, especially when she was not allowed to receive sacramental Communion.
At such times she went out on the terrace of her home and, looking at the church, tearfully sighed, “Happy are they who have received You today in the Blessed Sacrament, O Jesus. Blessed are the walls of the church that guard my Jesus. Blessed are the priests, who are always near Jesus most lovable.” Spiritual Communions alone were able to satisfy her a little.
During the day
Here is one of the counsels which St. Pio of Pietrelcina gave to one of his spiritual daughters: “In the course of the day, when it is not permitted you to do otherwise, call on Jesus, even in the midst of all your occupations, with a resigned sigh of the soul and He will come and will remain always united with your soul by means of His grace and His holy love. Fly with your spirit before the tabernacle, when you cannot stand before it bodily, and there pour out the ardent longings of your soul and embrace the Beloved of souls, even more than if you had been permitted to receive Him sacramentally.”
Let us, too, profit by this great gift. During the times that we suffer trials or feel abandoned, for example, what can be more valuable to us than the union of our Sacramental Lord by means of spiritual Communion?
This holy practice can easily fill our days with acts and sentiments of love, and can make us live in an embrace of love solely conditioned by a renewal so frequent that it seems uninterrupted.
St. Angela Merici was passionately fond of spiritual Communion. Not only did she make it often and exhort others to do it, but she went so far as to make it her daughters’ special heritage, because she wanted them ever after to practice it.
What shall we say of St. Francis de Sales? Does not his whole life seem like a chain of spiritual Communions? He resolved to make a spiritual Communion at least every quarter of an hour.
So, too, St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe even from his youth. A brief page from the spiritual diary of the Ven. Andrew Beltrami, tells us about what is in fact a little program for a life lived in uninterrupted spiritual Communion with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. These are his words: “Wherever I may be I will often think of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I will fix my thoughts on the holy tabernacle— even when I happen to wake up at night— adoring Him from where I am, calling to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, offering up to Him the action in which I am engaged.
I will install one telegraph cable from my study to the church, another from my bedroom, and a third from our refectory; and as often as I can, I will send messages of love to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
What a stream of divine affections must have passed through those precious cables!
“We must have a daily habit of prayer; it should be ingrained in us. Morning and Night Prayers, the Rosary and frequent lifting of the mind to God will help us to hear His Voice.The daily habit of prayer leads us to spiritual health. We are more “tuned in” to know what God’s will is in our life, to desire it and to do it. By our habit of prayer we will experience the tranquility and happiness that comes from Him Who sees our efforts and loves us so much! He will give us the peace that passeth all understanding….” – Anne Joachim
Pray, hope, & do not worry. If Our Lord will provide for birds in the sky would He not help us who are made in His image & likeness? Trust in Him. Do not be anxious like the pagans.
A little reminder of the devotion of Divine Mercy along with the teaching of the little flower on having trust in Our Lord.
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