On Spiritual Communion.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
You may perhaps, my soul, sometimes feel tempted to indulge a certain not unholy envy of the apostles, when you read in the Gospels of the frequency of our Lord’s appearances to them after He had risen again, filling their hearts with joy and gladness by reason of His beloved presence and His glorified state. Moreover we are told He Himself vouchsafed to break bread to them, by which we are to understand Holy Communion. Yet you have no occasion to envy the disciples, for you also can enjoy the same happiness as often as you choose; you can delight yourself in the blissful presence of Jesus as often as you go to Communion; you can gaze with the eye of faith on the splendor of His glorified body; and you can also procure for yourself the privilege of an hour of happy intercourse with Him whenever you make a spiritual communion. With the object of understanding this better let us consider:
1st. In what spiritual communion consists. It consists in an ardent and glowing desire to receive the adorable Sacrament of the Altar, a desire which impels one to exclaim with holy Job: “Who will give us of his flesh that we may be filled?” (Job xxxi. 31.) Just as a hungry man, devours his food with his eyes, so we ought to fix the eyes of the soul with longing on the celestial nourishment. When in the holy Mass the Priest opens his mouth to consume the sacred species, the body of Christ, we ought at the same time to open the mouth of our soul and, urged by an ardent desire to receive that sacred manna, to utter the aspiration: “Jesus, whom I love above all things, as the hart panteth after the fountains of clear water, so my soul panteth after Thee!” Then God will undoubtedly satisfy your craving with an increase of grace and of charity according to the promise given to the Psalmist: “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.” (Ps. Ixxx. 11.)
2d. Consider, however, that it is an essential preliminary to spiritual communion to be in a state of grace. This the Council of Trent expressly declares: If the desire that is felt to receive this sacrament is to proceed as far as a spiritual communion, it must arise from a lively faith that worketh by charity; that is to say, he who cherishes this desire within his breast must be in the state of divine grace in order to be able to unite himself to Christ in a spiritual manner, and to participate in the fruits which this union produces. For one whose conscience was burdened with mortal sin would not only be incapacitated from making a spiritual communion, but the mere desire to receive our Lord in that state would in itself be another and an additional sin. If however you are in a state of grace, if you have the supernatural life within you, you will hunger for the supersubstantial bread. Hunger is in the natural order a sign of life, of vigorous, healthy life, and similarly, frequent spiritual communion affords undeniable evidence of healthy spiritual life.
3d. Consider of what spiritual communion is a proof, and what is the benefit derived from it. It is pre-eminently the sign of a good conscience, for only those whose conscience does not condemn them can really and truly long for our Lord s presence, for they need not fear to approach Him; and it is furthermore a proof that the soul loves God, for that which we love we long for. And in respect to the profit to be derived from this practice, only consider how many acts of virtue are included in one spiritual communion: Acts of lively faith, of trustful hope, of fervent charity; besides touching humility, which, despite the strength and depth of its desire, does not deem itself worthy actually to receive Holy Communion, or which submits with docile obedience and diffidence to the hindrances opposed by circumstances and occasions. Consider also the graces God grants to one who communicates spiritually, for if ordinary prayer calls down from Heaven a profusion of graces, how much the more must this act of worship do so, which consists of ardent desire, holy humility, and steadfast faith. Nay, some masters of the spiritual life assert that one spiritual communion, if accompanied by profound reverence and humility, procures for the soul greater and more precious graces than actual Communion, if the latter is lacking in due devotion and sufficient preparation. Since in days of yore a brazen serpent, as we read in the third book of Moses, could heal those who were fatally bitten by serpents, if they did but look upon it, is it not possible, think you, that the wounds of your soul may also be healed if you raise your eyes to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with lively faith and an ardent desire to receive Him? Wherefore let it be your constant practice to make a spiritual communion, and determine when and where you will habituate yourself to make it.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault. . . . perform this action … to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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