SPECIAL COVID-19 ALERT: Spiritual Communion

Spiritual Communion in This Hour of Need

All across the world, bishops are suspending Mass as Catholics join in the campaign to help “flatten the curve” of the spread of COVID-19 VIRUS. There are still ways for the faithful to participate in the spiritual benefits of Communion. One way that was strongly endorsed by St. Pope John Paul II is Spiritual Communion. This practice is said to have originated with St. Alphonsus Liguori. In addition, St. Josemaria Escriva used this practice beginning in childhood as a way to be in fellowship with Jesus and the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas said “Spiritual Communion is “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament [in Communion at Mass] and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him.” Spiritual Communion is a wonderful way to focus on the Divine Presence and spend a bit of our time with the Lord.  It is a pious desire to receive the Holy Eucharist when it is not possible to receive it Sacramentally. Since that is the situation that millions of Catholics are now experiencing, Spiritual Communion offers all of us a way to continue to love, honor, and embrace Jesus.

Spiritual Communion should include an Act of Faith. We renew and affirm our confidence in the Real Presence of Christ. It can be a wonderful way to dispose our soul to receive Communion in the Sacrament of the Eucharist or as preparation for Spiritual Communion.

A second component is to recognize a deep desire to receive Christ Sacramentally whenever possible, and to cherish this moment to be intimately united with Jesus.

We also include a loving petition to ask Almighty God to spiritually gift us with the benefits and graces we receive through Sacramental Communion.

There are several forms of this prayer. Although there is no specific format recommended by the church, St. Pope John Paul II described this practice in his April 2003 encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Chapter IV – The Eucharist and Ecclesial Communion. He stated that making a prayer for Spiritual Communion “was a wonderful part of the Catholic life for centuries and recommended by saints, who were masters of the spiritual life”.

A very common traditional version reads like this:

O my Jesus, I love You, I adore You, I hope in You, my God so good. I believe that You are truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. Although I cannot now receive You sacramentally, I desire to receive you into my soul, and ask that You may at least come spiritually into my heart. Lord, keep me always in communion with You, and never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

A form used by St. Josemaria Escriva goes like this:

“I wish, Lord, to receive you with the purity, humility and devotion with which your most holy Mother received you, with the spirit and fervor of the saints.”

Another version that I use daily says:

O my Jesus, I believe with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, and with all my being that You are truly present in the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Jesus, I love You above all things and persons, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I am unable now to receive You sacramentally, I ask to be united with You spiritually. I reach out to embrace You, knowing that You are always there, always coming back to me in the Eucharist, and I unite myself entirely to You. Come, then, and inhabit the tabernacle of my heart and make my body a temple for Your Holy Spirit; and then, through the Power of that Spirit, grant me the faith, the discernment, the patience and perseverance, and especially the humility to successfully resist desecrating this temple. I beg You to do this in Your Most Precious Name and for Your eternal glory. Amen. 

St. Padre Pio also recommended this practice, and practiced it often during his day as a way to stay intimately united with Jesus

As with Sacramental Communion, there is additional benefit in using a Prayer Before a Crucifix. The traditional version is often found in hymnals, Missalettes, and prayer books:

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus while before Your face I humbly kneel and, with burning soul, pray and beseech You to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity; true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment. While I contemplate, with great love and tender pity, Your five most precious wounds, pondering over them within me and calling to mind the words which David, Your prophet, said to You, my Jesus: “They have pierced My hands and My feet, they have numbered all My bones.”  Amen.

Another version reads like this:

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while beneath Your cross I humbly pray, sincerely pleading with You to create throughout my whole existence holy and living virtues – all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit – while leading my soul to sincere contrition and effective repentance as I contemplate with great love and tender pity Your five wounds, pondering upon them within me while calling to mind the words which David Your prophet said of You my Jesus: “They have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones.”* Glory be to the Father, … Amen.

Psalm 22:16b-17a They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones.

As part of our Spiritual Union with Jesus and His Church, we can also follow the Daily Readings. There are many publications available by subscription that contain all the readings and prayers for every daily Mass. These include, but are not limited to, Magnificat Magazine, The Word Among Us, and Living with Christ. Did you know you can read the daily readings online? In our house, we use the USCCB website. The entire Bible is available here – and it includes introductions to each book of the Bible and notes on the readings. In the upper right section of the page, there is a calendar which you can use to find the readings for any day o f the year – past, current, or future. Toward the bottom of the page there is a subscription option so you can have the Daily Readings sent via email directly to your inbox. On the left side of the page, there are links to audio presentations of the readings, video reflections on the daily Scripture, and guidelines on suitable versions of the Bible that Catholics use around the world. With so many ways to “feast on the Word,” we have an invaluable way to deepen and strengthen our daily walk with Jesus and his Church.

As you know, the COVID-19 VIRUS is seriously disrupting everything everywhere. It can be a very stressful, even worrisome thing for every earthling in God’s Great World. As a People of Faith anointed as Priest, Prophet, and King, we can – and must – carry out the mission Jesus himself gave us. We must be willing to be actively involved moment-by-moment, day-by-day, prayer-by-prayer in making Jesus present “in the World.” The Great Commission tells us, his Disciples, what to do:

In Matthew 24:14 we read 14 And this good news [Gospel] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. In addition we read in the “Great Commission” (See Matthew 28:16–20), 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Being made Disciples means learning about Jesus’ life and learning about the Gospel. It means praying in Love with, for, and about our neighbors. It means walking with Jesus “Every step of this Pilgrim Way.”

While we certainly want to always be in our best state of being – in the Grace of God – it is important to know that we can commit to a Spiritual Communion even if we are not in a state of Grace. If we are interiorly disposed to actually receive the Eucharist, by which, if done with a contrite and a pure and loving heart, you receive at least a part of the great benefits you would receive from actual communion. I fervently encourage you to make it a daily practice to

  • Read Scripture – especially the daily readings as described above
  • Offer prayers for Peace, Hope, Healing, and Health in your community and all around the world
  • Follow the advice of St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Make the catholicity of your life demonstrably obvious.
  • Make an Act of Spiritual Communion at least daily – as described above.
  • Consider sharing this devotion together with family or other small groups so that, as Christ commanded, we will pray in the community of his Church.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Chick Todd

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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