When we are unable to receive Holy Communion, Catholics are encouraged to make a spiritual communion.
But what is a "spiritual communion," and how do we make one properly?
What Is A Spiritual Communion?
The Baltimore Catechism defines spiritual communion in a few simple lines:
" A spiritual communion is an earnest desire to receive Communion in reality, by which desire we make all preparations and thanksgivings that we would make" if we were about to receive Jesus sacramentally—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
The Bellarmine Forum, referring to the Catechism's definition, uses similar words:
"Spiritual communion consists in awakening within the heart a lively desire to receive holy communion."
Why Make A Spiritual Communion?
Why make a spiritual communion? Does it really have any effect? We aren't receiving Jesus physically in the Host. Why don't we just be patient and pray and wait to be able to receive Him again sacramentally?
There is indeed a reception of grace from spiritual communion. Of course, the better disposed we are—and the more we reject sin—the more graces we shall receive.
"Spiritual communion," continues The Bellarmine Forum, "is the means of enriching the soul with many and precious graces."
Jesus Himself, speaking to St. Catherine of Siena, told her that He placed her sacramental Communions in a gold chalice, and her spiritual communions in a silver chalice. " Both chalices are quite pleasing to me," Our Lord said.
How Do I Make A Spiritual Communion?
How do we make a spiritual communion? Is there an official spiritual communion prayer? Is there a specific method of preparation?
No and yes.
No, there isn't one official prayer—as many of us have discovered through internet searching. There isn't an official method of preparation, either.
However, the answer to "how" is simple and may seem obvious: prepare for a spiritual communion the way you would prepare to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
We are not required to fast, of course, though fasting is deeply important to the spiritual life and should be cultivated as a more-frequent practice.
W should be reverent; humble; modest; and so on. We should mentally collect our thoughts and prepare our hearts as best we can. We should make an Act of Contrition.
"To make a spiritual communion is a matter of no difficulty," writes The Bellarmine Forum, "it is enough to recollect one’s self for a few minutes, to place one’s self in spirit before the tabernacle, and to say: 'Lord Jesus, come, I beseech Thee, into my heart.'"
We can offer one of the traditional prayers for spiritual communion (listed below) and then we must spend time in thanksgiving, just as we do when receiving Holy Communion at Mass. (That is one of the reasons why we must never leave Mass early!)
Embrace Our Lord interiorly, offering Him thanks from your heart.
St. Leonard of Port-Maurice offered this guidance for making a spiritual communion:
...excite in your heart an act of true contrition, 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, and the rest, which you are accustomed to make when you communicate sacramentally, and then desire with a lively longing to receive your good Jesus...And to kindle your devotion, imagine that most holy Mary, or some saint, your holy advocate, is holding forth to you the sacred [Host]; [imagine] yourself receiving it, and then, embracing Jesus in your heart, reply to Him, over and over again, with interior words prompted by love: “Come, Jesus, my Beloved, come within this my poor heart; come and satiate my desires; come and sanctify my soul; come, most sweet Jesus, come!” This said, be still; contemplate your good God within you, and, as if you really had communicated, adore Him, thank Him, and perform all those interior acts to which you are accustomed after sacramental Communion.
Traditional Prayers For Spiritual Communion
Here are some traditional Catholic prayers for making a spiritual communion.
1. Act of Spiritual Communion by St. Alphonsus Liguori
My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee.
2. Act of Spiritual Communion
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.
3. Act of Spiritual Communion
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.
4. Prayer For Spiritual Communion
In union, O dear Lord, with the faithful at every altar of Your Church (especially at...[name of your parish, for example]) where your death and passion are pleaded before the Father, I desire to offer you praise and thanksgiving. I present to you my soul and body with the earnest wish that I may be ever united to you. And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I implore you to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you, and embrace you with all the powers of my soul. O let nothing ever separate me from you, let me live and die in your love. Amen.
How often can we make a spiritual communion? Very often. You could even make one every hour.
We must remember that spiritual communions—though holy—are not an ultimate replacement for sacramental Holy Communion. But they are an incredible gift from Our Lord. He is so generous with us.
Spiritual communions are the "silver chalice." As we await the "gold chalice," may the Holy Spirit bring about in us a profound hunger and longing for Jesus, that we might know and love and serve Him better.
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