Further on in Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI urges Catholics to “rediscover the Eucharistic form which their lives are meant to have,” thus making of our lives “a constant self-offering to God….” (no. 72). The practice of making spiritual communions throughout the day is one way to rediscover our Eucharistic form.
In his encyclical letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Saint Pope John Paul II wrote:
In the Eucharist, “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. This was 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. St. Teresa of Jesus wrote: “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” [The Way of Perfection, Ch. 35.].
According to Saint Thomas Aquinas spiritual communion consists of “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him.”
A prayer of spiritual Communion with Jesus can be made in a matter of seconds and repeated often throughout the day. The prayer is highly thought of by the Church since it is indulgenced (see Manual of Indulgences, 4th Edition, p.51). To make a spiritual communion you can simply say the following prayer in a recollected manner:
“My Jesus, 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“ (From sacredheart.com).
The prayer of spiritual communion – which may even be made without words in the yearnings of our heart – shows our deep hunger for the Eucharist; it further shows our deep desire to be united to the Eucharistic life of Christ; it shows, as well, our profound love for the Sacrament of Love!
You can make this prayer throughout the day on days when you are unable to attend daily Mass, or you can say the prayer throughout the day as preparation for your next Holy Communion at Mass. Vinny Flynn relates that “Saint Francis de Sales resolved to make a spiritual Communion at least every fifteen minutes so that he could link all the events of the day to his reception of the Eucharist at Mass” (7 Secrets of the Eucharist, pp. 85-86). Flynn relates that Saint Maximilian Kolbe also made frequent spiritual Communions (p.86).
Flynn also refrences Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, who said:
“If you practice the holy exercise of spiritual Communion several times each day, within a month you will see your heart completely changed” (7 Secrets of the Eucharist, pp. 97-98)
In his book, Jesus our Eucharistic Love, Father Stefano Manelli explains what the effects of a well made spiritual communion may produce. He says, “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.”
Two other books which highly recommend this practice of making spiritual Communions are: The Blessed Sacrament by Father Faber (beginning at p. 438), and The Blessed Eucharist by Father Muller (Chapter 11). Surely, this practice of making spiritual Communions will draw you closer to the Lord, and make you more desirous of receiving Him sacramentally at Holy Mass.
The practice of spiritual communion secures our life-long love of the Eucharist, for the Eucharist is constantly close to our heart. By this efficacious practice, our hearts are always longing to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Spiritual communion is a great preparation for Holy Communion at Mass. And in situations such as the present, where it is impossible for many Catholics to go to Mass due to the pandemic, spiritual communion is a highly recommended, almost vital, practice.
“Oh Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, please place in our hearts profound gratitude for the Holy Eucharist.”
Let us all pray earnestly for the pandemic to end, and for the prompt discovery of a safe and ethical vaccine.
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
Photo Attribution: This photo of Pope Benedict XVI celebrating Mass on May 11, 2007 was taken by Fabio Pozzebom/ABr and produced by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. This file is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution 3.0 Brazillicense (per Wikipedia).
References: The quotes from St. Thomas Aquinas and Father Manelli were found in the Wikipedia article entitled, “Spiritual Communion.” The quote from Pope John Paul II was found in the Catholics United for the Faith internet article entitled, “Spiritual Communion.” See also Summa Theologica III, question 80, by Saint Thomas Aquinas, discussing the spiritual profit of spiritual Communions (as discussed in Flynn’s book, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist).
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Great post, thank you.
Tom, what do you think of the Spiritual Communion prayer? “Come at least spiritually into my heart as if you were already there…” Isn’t the Spirit of God there already, in our hearts?
If we are in a state of grace, for a start.
I John 20 we see Jesus bestowing the Holy Spirit on his apostles.
John 20: “19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’
20 and, after saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord,
21 and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’
22 After saying this he breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”
Yet afterwards, in Acts 1, Jesus tells them that they WILL be baptised with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1 ““5 John baptised with water but, not many days from now, you are going to be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
6 Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
7 He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority,
8 but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to earth’s remotest end.’
9 As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight.”
And in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples in the upper room.
Acts 2 “1 When Pentecost day came round, they had all met together,
2 when suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a violent wind which filled the entire house in which they were sitting;
3 and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.0%
4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves.”
And in Acts 6 the twelve ask the disciples to choose seven men who are “filled with the Spirit”, indicating that not all the disciples were.
Acts 6 “2 So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food;
3 you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom, to whom we can hand over this duty.”
From all this it is evident that the Holy Spirit being with us is not a onetime event, but rather a continuous process that is dependent upon our response in the first place, but also an ongoing process, so it is right and proper to pray to God for this at all times.