Most Blessed Sacrament
FR. STEPHANO MANELLI
Imprimatur: 1973, Naples, Italy
Spiritual Communion, Part 1
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 are satisfied of the soul that wants to be united with Jesus, its dear Bridegroom. Spiritual Communion is a union of love between the soul and Jesus in the Host. This union is spiritual but none-the-less 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 and 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 Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire to possess Thee within my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. --- (pause) I embrace Thee as being already there and unite myself wholly to Thee. Never, never permit me to be separated from Thee. Amen."
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.
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 up 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 the Offertory, the sacrificial Consecration, and Holy Communion.
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 ciboriums, and said, "In this golden ciborium I put your Sacramental Communions. In this silver ciborium 1 put your Spiritual Communions. Both ciboriums are quite pleasing to Me."
And once Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, when she was absorbed in addressing yearning sighs to Him in the tabernacle, "I love so much 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 at least partly satisfied that ardent desire to be united to their Beloved. Jesus Himself said, "Abide in Me and I in you" (John 15:4). And Spiritual Communion helps us stay united to Jesus, even when we are far from a Church. There was no other way to appease the fond yearning that burned in 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).
This is the loving sigh of the Saints. St. Catherine of Genoa exclaimed, "O dear Spouse (of my soul), I so strongly crave the joy of being with Thee, that it seems to me that if I were dead, I would come to life in order to receive Thee 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 Spiritual Communion, I could not have lived."
For St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, likewise, Spiritual Communion was 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 a time she went out on the terrace of her home and, looking at the Church, she tearfully sighed, "Happy are they who have received Thee 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 the most lovable Jesus." Spiritual Communion alone was able to satisfy her a little.
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