Spiritual Communion: How Jesus Prepares Us

 How few of us turn our thoughts to receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist outside of Sunday Mass. Lucky are we who have the opportunity to commune daily. St. Gertrude was so focused on receiving the Host that it was the epicenter of her daily life. All things revolved upon her Communion with Jesus in the Eucharist. To miss Communion was disaster to her.

In her writings, she tells of one occasion when she was so physically ill that walking over the the chapel for Mass was out of the question. (And apparently, no one was inclined to bring Communion to her–many of her co-religious at times thought her illnesses were simply her way of escaping her daily chores.) On this particular day, Gertrude had been preparing to receive with particular devotion, so when it became clear that Communion was out of the question that day, she turned to Jesus:

According to her usual custom, she consulted her Lord to know what would be most pleasing to Him. 

He replied, “Even as a spouse who was already satisfied with a variety of viands would prefer remaining near his bride to sitting at table with here, so would I prefer that you should deprive yourself of Communion through holy prudence on this occasion, rather than approach it.”

“And how, my loving Lord, can You say that You are thus satiated?”

The Lord replied, “By your moderation in speech, by all your prayers, by all the good dispositions with which you have prepared to receive My adorable Body and Blood; these are to Me as the most delicious food and refreshment.”

What stands out in this passage is the value of spiritual Communion when the normal form of Communion is not possible. How many occasions of grace do we overlook by neglecting the opportunity to receive spiritual Communion–our own illness, or a sick child in our care, perhaps. Or a work schedule that keeps us from Mass. The story is told of St. Catherine who was presented by Jesus with two chalices, one of gold and the other of silver. The gold, He told her, was filled with hosts of her many sacramental Communions received at Mass over the years. The hosts in the silver chalice, He said, were from her many spiritual Communion. Both types were very pleasing to Him, He said.

Like St. Catherine and centuries later, like St. Faustina, spiritual communions were important parts of Gertrude’s life. She used to prepare for them with the same zeal and fervor as she did for sacramental Communions. But sometimes, the opportunity to receive left little time for preparation. She tells this story…

When she came to Mass, though still in a state of extreme weakness, having prepared for spiritual Communion, she heard the sound of a bell announcing the return of a priest who had gone to a village to give Communion to a sick person.

“O Life of my soul!”, she exclaimed, “how gladly would I receive Thee spiritually if I had time to prepare myself worthily!”

“The looks of My Divine Mercy,” replied the Lord, “will impart to you the necessary preparation.”  At that time, it seemed to the Saint that the Lord cast a look upon her soul like a ray of sunshine, saying, “I will fix My eyes upon thee.” (Ps. 31). From these words, she understood that the look of God produces three effects to those in our souls, similar to those that the sun produces in our bodies, and that the soul ought to prepare in three ways to receive it.

First, the glance of Divine Mercy searches the soul and purifies it from every stain, making it whiter than snow. We obtain this favor by humbly acknowledgement of our defects.

Secondly, this look of mercy softens the soul and prepares it to receive spiritual gifts, even as wax is softened by the heat of the sun and becomes capable of receiving any impression. The soul acquires this by a pious intention.

Thirdly, the glance of Divine Mercy on the soul makes it fruitful in the different flowers of virtue, even as the sun produces and ripens different sorts of fruit. And the third effect is obtained by a faithful confidence which causes us to abandon ourselves entirely to God, confiding assuredly in the superabundance of His mercy, believing that all things will contribute to our eternal welfare, whether they appear favorable or adverse.

Reflection:

Never again can we underestimate the value of Spiritual Communion. The graces that Jesus offers us, so easily obtained and so lovingly distributed, soothe the injuries of our soul and build unimaginable treasure in heaven for all who reach out for it. When we cannot come to You sacramentally, Lord, come to us spiritually. Only say the word, and our souls shall be healed.

For those of you who don’t know what a spiritual communion is, it is a way to receive Jesus into one’s heart spiritually when you can’t sacramentally. In his little work Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Alphonsus Ligouri wrote a little prayer that beautifully describes what a spiritual communion is and how someone can make one.

His prayer is: “My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and I unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You”. Amen.