Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spiritual Communion

This post is going to be honest. So if you want that sugar-coated, I'm ok you're ok, hold hands and sing kumbaya stuff, then avert your eyes and click the homepage button.

After much deliberation and coercion, I am going to talk about something I have noticed has become more of a thing in the past 10 or so years; or maybe I just started noticing it more now than before... and that would be people going up to receive a blessing during Communion.


Ok so I was never told in my life it was ok to go up for a blessing, and to be honest, I never knew that was allowed! When I was in a state of mortal sin, I was to wait in the pew for my family to come back and obviously, everyone else in the church , and then the rest of the Mass goes on accordingly. (like it always does.) If I was however, in a state of Grace, then I could go up of course, to receive Christ Himself fully present in the Eucharist; Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity! That's how I was taught, and that's the way I stayed...for at least a time.

I did however begin to go up for a blessing in high school and part of college. It began mostly because my friends told me I should. And being the passive Catholic that I was, I thought, "Yeah, a blessing from a priest. That's good too." Well I continued to do so, but then something happened. I stopped being passive and dove headfirst into the Catholic Church and all She teaches! I surrounded myself with those that burned with the Holy Spirit and I found myself listening and absorbing all they talked about. I became enthralled with the Eucharist and with the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Something about it never really settled well for me. I never felt comfortable going up and not receiving He Whom my soul loves. I talked to my friend at one point about the whole receiving a blessing thing. He was a bit more militant than I was about it (not always a bad thing).So what was I to do? I stopped. And this is why:

When we go up to Communion we go to receive Christ. For Him to fill us. To give us the graces we need to make it through the day. This is such a privilege! So if we are not in a state of grace what do we do? Just sit there and watch everyone else get these great things? It's not fair! They get to receive Him and I have to sit here while everyone else walks past me and "judges" me because I'm in a state of mortal sin! That is so not fair! My opinion is that people go up for a blessing because they don't want others to know they are not in a state of grace. Or maybe it's because they want to feel included, to be part of everyone getting something. "Well if they are getting something, I want something too" is the mentality. Here's the deal...are you ready for this? ...IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU! And it sure as heck isn't about me! It's about Jesus Christ! I'm sorry, but humble yourself! I see no point in going up for a blessing. it's not as if we are all going to the priest for a blessing. Most people are going to an Extraordinary Minister anyway. They can't give you a blessing. They have not had the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Plus, you can become a distraction to people, whether you know it or not. So why must we insist on a blessing? If we want a blessing, we mustn't leave the Mass early, because we all receive a blessing from the priest at the end (May all might God bless you in the name of...). Is it to acknowledge our sinfulness? We already do that when we say the Confiteor at the beginning of the Mass. Is it because we are sorry for our sins? Go as soon as possible to Confession! Don't let a moment waste! Our souls are at stake. (another topic all together.) So why? There is no good enough reason, unless of course you are below the age of reason(7yrs) and your parents are both going up.

Now I'm sure if you are upset and are still reading, you might be thinking that this guy is a jerk! Who is he to tell me what to do? Well truth be told, I'm only relaying the message which is given to us by Holy Mother Church:

"All those who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with our Lord Jesus and with one another."

This is straight from the Sunday Missal sitting in front of you in the pew. No where does it say, "Come on up for a blessing!" What it is speaking of is, however, a Spiritual Communion. Which in all reality is better than a simple blessing. It is confessing with your heart, mind, and lips that you are desiring Jesus to come inside and dwell within.

St. Thomas Aquinas defined Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him.”

Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia:
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” [The Way of Perfection, Ch. 35.]. 

St. John Vianney said “There are some who make a spiritual communion every day with blessed bread. If we are deprived of Sacramental Communion, let us replace it, as far as we can, by spiritual communion, which we can make every moment; for we ought to have always a burning desire to receive the good God. Communion is to the soul like blowing a fire that is beginning to go out, but that has still plenty of hot embers; we blow, and the fire burns again. After the reception of the Sacraments, when we feel ourselves slacken in the love of God, let us have recourse at once to spiritual communion. When we cannot go to the church, let us turn towards the tabernacle; no wall can shut us out from the good God.”

I could go on and on. The benefits to making a Spiritual Communion are so much greater than we can imagine! So my question is why don't we?! There is so much more to be attained from doing this!

This is the prayer St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote:

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 have already come, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. 
Amen.

Try it once, He may change your life...


In Christ through Mary,
Joe

St. Boniface, Pray for us!


Thanks to the Pieta Prayer Book, ewtn.com, and Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur from catholicexchange.com for the quotations.