Q. How does someone make a “spiritual communion”?
A. Our Lord wants us to receive Him in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion, and we should do that as often as possible, making sure that we’re properly disposed to receive Him that way. But sometimes when we want to commune with Jesus by receiving the Blessed Sacrament, circumstances prevent us.
Perhaps we’re homebound or unable to attend Mass. Perhaps we can attend Mass, but we can’t receive Communion because we aren’t properly prepared. Perhaps Mass isn’t being celebrated when we seek to unite ourselves with Jesus. Whatever the case, in times when we seek a communion with Our Lord but can’t receive Him sacramentally, we can always receive Him spiritually.
Such a “spiritual communion” consists in fervently desiring to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, then embracing Him with love in our hearts as if we had actually received Him in a sacramental Communion. It can be done: during Mass, during Eucharistic adoration, or anytime outside of church.
In his encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia (no. 35), Pope St. John Paul II wrote about this praiseworthy spiritual practice:
“In the Eucharist, ‘unlike any other sacrament, the mystery [of communion] is so perfect that it brings us to the heights of every good thing: Here is the ultimate goal of every human desire, because here we attain God and God joins himself to us in the most perfect union.’ Precisely for this reason it is good to cultivate in our hearts a constant desire for the sacrament of the Eucharist.
“This was the origin of the practice of ‘spiritual communion,’ which has happily been established in the Church for centuries and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life.
“St. Teresa of Jesus wrote: ‘When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you’ (Way of Perfection 35).”
How should you pray as you make a spiritual communion? Use your own words, or try this “Act of Spiritual Communion” from the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary’s Enchiridion of Indulgences: “My Jesus, I believe that you are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.”