Right now in my house, we’ve got three people on three schedules but only two cars. We do pretty well for the most part, but it’s made it difficult for me to get to daily Mass.
Even though it’s not required, I feel the need for daily Mass because it helps keep me centered and fills me with grace that sustains me. It gives me a boost to my day.
At first I got grumpy about not being able to make it to Mass. But then I came to the realization that my inability to get there could bear much fruit if I offered it back to God in love. For some folks, having to get to Mass can be a sacrifice. For me, not being able to get to Mass is a sacrifice.
There’s no substitute for Mass, but I decided to do the next best thing. First, I read the Daily Readings either from my missal or the USCCB website, or I listen to the audio file on a phone app called Catholic Compendium. I also make sure to check out the Saint of the Day, also on the app.
Then, I make a spiritual Communion.
Spiritual Communion, or Communion of desire, as St. Thomas Aquinas calls it, is an old Catholic tradition of inviting Jesus into your heart and soul when it isn’t possible to receive actual Communion. It doesn’t take the place of receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood, but it is a beautiful way to unite with him. The Church teaches that we can receive spiritual Communion at any time, as long as we are in the state of grace. What a gift!
St. John Paul II advocated spiritual Communion in his 2003 encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia:
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 Avila is one of the masters that St. John Paul II referred to in his encyclical. In her book, Way of Perfection, she wrote:
When you do not receive Communion, daughters, but hear Mass, you can make a spiritual communion. Spiritual communion is highly beneficial; through it you can recollect yourselves in the same way after Mass, for the love of this Lord is thereby deeply impressed on the soul. If we prepare ourselves to receive Him, He never fails to give in many ways which we do not understand. It is like approaching a fire; even though the fire may be a large one, it will not be able to warm you well if you turn away and hide your hands, though you will still get more heat than you would if you were in a place without one. But it is something else if we desire to approach Him. If the soul is disposed (I mean, if it wants to get warm), and if it remains there for a while, it will stay warm for many hours.
The warmth that St. Teresa describes is the same thing I’ve come to recognize as a “boost” in my day. The ability to unite by desire with Jesus, to invite him into my frazzled heart and soul, and to experience the power of his love gives me renewed hope and strength. It’s a reminder that, even though I’m not physically at Mass receiving his Body, Jesus still is close to me, within me with his grace. All I have to do is ask.
Years ago, I learned a prayer for spiritual Communion, and its the same one I continue to use frequently. Although we can use any formula of words for spiritual Communion – even a spontaneous plea – I like to use Send Your Angel to Holy Mass because it really draws me into the miracle of the Mass. It’s a bit long and a little archaic in lingo, but I like that, too, because it soothes me and lifts me from the hub-bub of my daily life.
Send Your Angel to Holy Mass
O holy angel, at my side,
Go to church for me,
Kneel in my place at Holy Mass
Where I desire to be.
At Offertory, in my stead,
Take all I am and own,
And place it as a sacrifice
Upon the Alter Throne.
At Holy Consecrations bell,
Adore with Seraph’s love.
My Jesus hidden in the Host,
Come down from Heaven above.
And when the Priest, communion takes,
Oh, bring my Lord to me,
That His sweet heart may rest on mine,
And I His temple be.
Pray that this Sacrifice Divine
May mankind’s sins efface.
Then bring me Jesus’ blessing home,
The pledge of every grace. Amen.
I still don’t like missing daily Mass, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend spiritually even if not physically. Those few minutes of spiritual Communion have become precious to me, so much so, that I rely on spiritual Communion at many times throughout the day. It’s become not only a habit, but a yearning.
Do you ever feel like you need a boost? Try making a spiritual Communion and let our Lord embrace and uplift you.
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