Although we have been formally dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass, as a result of the current pandemic, we are still able to participate in the Mass via live streaming, with the aid of technology. The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur and various Archdioceses and Dioceses around the world, offer Masses daily through live feeds, for the benefit of us all. I really don’t know how long this practice of “spiritual communion” through live streaming will continue, but I hope that it can inspire our faith during this time of global crisis.
Recently, I met two of our catechism students, aged 10 and 11 respectively. I asked them about the online Mass and their participation in it. I was amazed that they could recite the Act of Spiritual Communion Prayer by heart. I don’t think many of us say this prayer by heart during the time of Holy Communion, when we attend the online Mass. We may recite it within 20-30 seconds when it appears on screen without truly understanding the meaning of it.
Ever since the Church started live streaming the Masses, the faithful have been strongly encouraged to pray the following prayer as an Act of Spiritual Communion, during Holy Communion.
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into 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.
During this ongoing pandemic, we have been able to fulfil our days of obligation by attending Mass online, although we are unable to receive the Holy Communion sacramentally. However, we can receive Jesus when we express the Act of Spiritual Communion, which was written by St. Alphonsus de Liguori. We see four basic elements in this Act of Spiritual Communion Prayer – “Act of Faith, an Act of Love, a desire to receive Christ, and an invitation to Him to come into your heart.”
First, we profess with an Act of Faith that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. It is a true mystery in the teachings of the Catholic Church. With the words of consecration – “Make holy, therefore, these gifts (bread and wine), we pray by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,” that the whole of Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ is truly present (cf. CCC. nos. 1374 and 1413).
Second, we make an Act of Love and we confess that we love Jesus above all things and that He is good and worthy of our love. We are reminded that we should express our sacrificial love for God above all, by keeping close the Greatest commandments: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength” and “You must love your neighbour as yourself,” (Mark 12:30-31). We know these commandments by heart but they are not easy to live by.
Third, we make an Act of Desire by yearning to receive Jesus in the Holy Communion sacramentally and spiritually. Of course, we long to receive Jesus in Holy Communion whenever we participate in the Eucharistic celebration. Currently we are unable to be physically present at the Mass but our deep desire is to be fully in union with Christ Jesus through this spiritual communion and to be like Him, as we sincerely commit ourselves to following in His footsteps willingly.
Fourth, we invite Jesus to come into our hearts – “Come, Lord Jesus” (the Maranatha) and to be with us at all times and at all seasons. As Jesus is “standing at the door and knocking” (Rev 3:20), we need to welcome Him as we make Christ a home in our hearts. We thank Jesus for being spiritually present in our hearts and in our beings. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to us in “Spiritual Communion” and abiding within us. Heal our mind and body, soul and spirit, strengthen us and sanctify us.
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. Over the weekend, after you have participated in the online Mass, just spend a quiet moment to adore the Lord, by saying or singing this at least three times:
“O, Sacrament Most Holy;
O, Sacrament Divine,
All praise and all thanksgiving
Be every moment Thine.”
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy