Periodically, events deeply challenge our sense of normal and our faith. Many of us have experienced these before: Wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters. The current challenge — a pandemic virus that has us maintaining distance from one another or staying home — presents something most of us haven’t experienced.
We’re not receiving Communion.
No doubt, this is a hardship. Our discomfort caused by being deprived of the Eucharist is understandable, considering our Church’s teaching. The Real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life,” as dogmatically expressed in Lumen Gentium (11).
How can we be full without the source and the summit?
We’re not the first Catholics for whom the Eucharist isn’t immediately available. Around the world since Jesus’ sacrifice, groups of Christians have gone long periods without Holy Communion. Wars, pandemics, disasters, imprisonment, civil banning of faith, and many other situations have caused periods of the absence of the Eucharist.
Throughout those periods, saints were formed. There’s hope for us, too.
While we are currently unable to receive Holy Communion, we continue to receive God’s grace through the Masses celebrated by priests for the people. Our priests are offering the Mass for us. They’re praying for us, and we for them.
Sure, we could find ways to seek the Eucharist by circumventing or stretching the rules. But consider the deep spiritual fortitude required to observe the exile as a communion of saints. Obedience is always blessed.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, our shepherd, has suspended the public celebration of Mass and the distribution of Holy Communion — except in some grave cases — to comply with our civic leaders’ directives to keep us safe. This is for the common good.
While “any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to Holy Communion” (Code of Canon Law 912), we likewise “must take into account the common good of the Church, the rights of others, and their own duties toward others. In view of the common good, ecclesiastical authority can direct the exercise of rights which are proper to the Christian faithful” (Canon 223).
If we learn anything from this time of sacrifice, it should be the importance of making a spiritual communion, which we should practice with “renewed faith, reverence, humility and in complete trust in the goodness of the Divine Redeemer,” as Pope Pius XII wrote in the encyclical “Mediator Dei (The Sacred Liturgy).”
What a blessing this will be for our spiritual lives when we can again receive the Blessed Sacrament with the communion of saints.
Spiritual Communion Prayer
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love you above all things and I desire to receive you in my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally,
Come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace you as if you were already there
And unite myself wholly to you.
Never permit me to be separated from you.