October 12, 2020
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Spiritual Communion

Spiritual Communion

This is certainly an interesting time. Never before have I experienced a pandemic of this scale nor can I ever recall not being able to attend Mass at time of struggle. In fact, I recall vividly during 9/11 people instinctively going to their parish church for support during that dark period.

This week in dioceses throughout the nation, churches were closed to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. Some people were challenged by this, thinking the sacraments needed to be available in times like these. Our bishops felt that the risk of potentially transferring this virus to vulnerable populations was too high. Regardless of where one personally stands on this, our churches are closed, and Mass is only available via online streaming, television and radio. To encourage the faithful to continue in participating in the Mass, Pope Francis recently granted particular indulgences for those who take advantage of those opportunities to “attend” Mass.

Yes, it is a time where many of us get to sleep in on Sunday for a change. Yet, this is not a time for a “vacation” from our faith but rather, a time to embrace it. While I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Mass online, it does leave one feeling a bit incomplete. We still long to receive the body of Christ. So, what can we do? Before all else, we can pray!

First of all, let us take note of our desire to attend Mass and cannot. People in many regions of the world do not have such availability as we do. Let us sit with the feeling of wanting to go to Mass but the sacrament is not available. With that feeling, let us pray for vocations.

Secondly, let us reflect on the happenings all around the world and the plight of those suffering in the pandemic, those afraid for the future, those who lost their jobs, and for the souls departed. With our neighbors in mind, let us pray for an end of the pandemic and a recovery in health, economy, mind, body and spirit.

Now let us reflect on our personal response. Have we been fearful? Have we looked to hoard necessities rather than take only what is needed? Have we looked for ways to assist others or only worried about ourselves? While the sacrament of confession is not available, let us discern our response and make an act of contrition before we move on:

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen. 

With our hearts now open to the love and mercy of God let us address our desire to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Let us make a personal holy hour. If we need a visual, we can visit many at many sites on the Internet, such as at Marytown in Libertyville, IL.

It would be appropriate to pray with the readings for the day or other Scripture, dust off a prayer book or sit silently reflecting on God’s love for you. Leave time in your holy hour to listen rather than speak. What is God saying to you?

After spending time reflecting, discerning, and listening in silence, we conclude our Holy Hour by praying: 

In the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit.  

Amen.

  • Blessed and praised every moment. 
    • Be the most Holy and most Divine Sacrament.
  • Glory be to the father… 
    • As it  was in the beginning… 

{Repeat Three Times}

Without attending Mass, we cannot receive the Eucharist. However, we can receive it spiritually. Many saints incorporated this prayer into their spiritual lives. Let us reflect on our desire to receive communion. What specifically is this desire in our hearts? We need to make ourselves aware of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. Reflect on John 6. Will we abandon him, too? Jesus is present in the Eucharist – body, blood, soul and divinity. Remind ourselves of this, the sacredness and gift we have to receive at each Mass. With this disposition, let us pray:

Lord Jesus, I firmly believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I adore you as true God hidden here. I ask your pardon for my sins; and because I love you above all things, I desire to receive you spiritually in this moment.

 Pause – Spiritual communion.

I thank you for having united myself to you, I submit myself entirely to your Holy Will. Amen.

Wow. That seems like work!

Should it? Not really. We have done nothing extraordinary. The Church reminds us that we should be regularly going to confession and weekly Mass. In our current unavailability to attend Mass, our senses are heightened at the loss. We intuitively know we should be turning to God in our need. That inner voice we tune out most days can be heard in the quiet of self-distancing.

Yet, God doesn’t self-distance himself from us. He never will. It is we who do the distancing. Whether consciously or most likely unconsciously, we tend to let the “noise” in our lives mask our natural impulse to seek God. We get so focused on bills, events and all the little occurrences in our day we forget to one who gave this day to us. 

God didn’t create the coronavirus to target anyone.  Yet, in the pandemic we have a prime opportunity to reflect again what is important in our lives.  A job that annoys us doesn’t look so bad when others are being laid off.  Seeing the pandemic numbers on television makes us cherish our health rather than neglecting it like most days.  Hearing of the plight of the vulnerable awakens us to the needs of our neighbors.

In a short time, this pandemic will be over.  We can walk away from the lessons we learned during this time and forget our renewed focus on the values reawakened during this pandemic.  I hope not.  That would be another tragedy in this most historical event our generation.  

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Written by
Deacon Gregory Webster