At 4:30 pm this evening, of the 177 archdiocese/diocese in the United States, all but 21 had already suspended public masses. I serve in the Diocese of St. Petersburg which is one of the 21. I suspect that tomorrow will be my last public Mass for sometime. That is sad in many respects. I am always called to remember Sacrosantum Concilium 7,
Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross” , but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20) (emphasis added)
When presiding at Mass those words always ring in my mind that Christ is truly present in the faithful gathered together at Mass. Soon I will look out to an empty church as celebrate Mass, fulfill intentions, and pray for the parishioners of Sacred Heart, the diocese, the Church, and the world. But I hope to be in communion with the faithful far outside the walls of my parish church.
Amidst these days, as we shelter in our homes, we are urged to recall the words of Pope Francis, who, after reciting a livestreamed Angelus prayer March 15, told people, “United to Christ we are never alone, but instead form one body, of which he is the head. It is a union that is nourished with prayer and also with spiritual communion in the Eucharist, a practice that is recommended when it isn’t possible to receive the sacrament.”
The idea of “spiritual Communion” – inviting Jesus into one’s heart and soul when receiving the actual sacrament isn’t possible – is part of Catholic tradition. In the 1700s, St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote a special prayer for spiritual communion:
“My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you. But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you.
Tomorrow and each day after, take a moment and pause. Be united in communion with Christ, your community and the world. Be truly present to the Christ truly present to you.
St. Teresa of Ávila 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.]
Consider engaging in the Word on Fire Daily Mass as a part of your spiritual communion in this trying times.
Be well. Be safe. And may the love of God be greatly impressed upon you.