In these days we are being called to practice Spiritual Communion, as physical participation in the Liturgy is sadly impossible for most of us. But what does it mean? Is it a new idea that the Church has come up with just now?
Not at all! Spiritual communion has been discussed from early years of the Church. Saint Thomas Aquinas describes it as "an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him"
St. Jean-Marie Vianney compared spiritual communion to blowing on fire and embers that are starting to go out in order to make them burn again: "There are some who make a spiritual communion every day with blessed bread. 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. After the reception of the Sacraments, when we feel ourselves slacken in the love of God, let us have recourse at once to 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. Josemaría Escrivá taught spiritual communions improve presence of God: "What a source of grace there is in spiritual Communion! Practise it frequently and you'll have more presence of God and closer union with him in your life."He also taught: "Do not neglect to say, 'Jesus, I love you', and make one spiritual communion, at least, each day, in atonement for all the profanations and sacrileges he suffers because he wants to be with us."
How are we to perform the Act of Spiritual Communion?
My own advice would be to start with reading the daily Mass readings available here or on our app, or in many other places. Then proceed with reading some meditations on the readings - for example, monthly booklet of Word on Fire offers daily meditations. Father Frank will also be offering daily meditations here. Then we can think about the grace of Jesus offering himself to each of us freely in communion.
St. Leonard of Port-Maurice calls us to excite in our hearts an act of true contrition, just as we would do during Holy Mass, and "humbly striking your breast, in token that you acknowledge yourself unworthy of so great a grace, make all those acts of love, of self-surrender, of humility...". He then calls us to embrace Jesus and reply to Him "with interior words promted by love", and then be still and conteplate, listen, thank and adore Him.
Below we are offering several different examples of acts of Spiritual Communion. You can use any but feel free to also let your own heart speak, "with interior words of love" . If you are feeling your heart dry and empty, meditate more on the meaning of Holy Communion. I think we, having had Him daily available, became kind of spoiled. We forget to wonder, to be filled with awe at the amazing gift of Eucharist. To better understand the beauty of this Sacrament, we can for example read Pope St. Paul John the Second`s Encyclical letter ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA. I also found of great spiritual use Thomas Merton`s book Living Bread.
Remember that participating spiritually in the Body and Blood of our Lord, we also participate in the union of the Church. Thus, even us we are alone and isolated now, we can be in spiritual union with the whole church, especially with all the suffering.
Acts of Spiritual Communion
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
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.
O, Jesus, I turn toward the Holy Tabernacle where Thou doth live hidden for love of me.
I love Thee, O, my God. I cannot receive Thee in Holy Communion.
Come, nevertheless, and visit me with Thy Grace. Come spiritually into my heart.
Purify it. Sanctify it. Render it like unto Thine Own. Amen.
Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but
only say the Word, and my soul shall be healed.
O Immaculate Queen of Heaven and Earth, Mother of God and Mediatrix of every grace: I believe that Thy dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, is truly, really, and substantially contained in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love Him above all things and I long to receive Him into my heart. Since I cannot now receive Him sacramentally, be so good as to place Him spiritually in my soul.
O my Jesus, I embrace Thee as One who has already come, and I unite myself entirely to Thee. Never permit me to be separated from Thee. Amen.
As I cannot this day enjoy the happiness of assisting at the holy Mysteries, O my God! I transport myself in spirit at the foot of Thine altar; I unite with the Church, which by the hands of the priest, offers Thee Thine adorable Son in the Holy Sacrifice; I offer myself with Him, by Him, and in His Name. I adore, I praise, and thank Thee, imploring Thy mercy, invoking Thine assistance, and presenting Thee the homage I owe Thee as my Creator, the love due to Thee as my Savior.
Apply to my soul, I beseech Thee, O merciful Jesus, Thine infinite merits; apply them also to those for whom I particularly wish to pray. I desire to communicate spiritually, that Thy Blood may purify, Thy Flesh strengthen, and Thy Spirit sanctify me. May I never forget that Thou, my divine Redeemer, hast died for me; may I die to all that is not Thee, that hereafter I may live eternally with Thee. Amen.
Please, do not hesitate to comment and share your favorite acts of Spiritual Communion, books and other sources that help you experience the communion more deeply!