On Spiritual Communion
By Bishop Roman Danylak
Reprinted from HEART OF THE HARVEST September 1996
"I shall not leave you orphans." Jesus has sent us His Spirit, the Paraclete. He has established His Church on Peter, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
He has left us His mother. "Son, behold your Mother." And she not only is the one who intercedes for us before the throne of Divine Mercy, but she is the one who has chosen her innumerable places of grace and her visitation on every continent of the globe.
"I shall not leave you orphans." The Lord has left us the Mystery of His Body and Blood, not only as a symbol or memorial of the Last Supper, but as the mystical and real renewal of His presence through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, through which He nourishes us with Divine nourishment, His own Body and Blood; through which He becomes sacramentally present to us.
And as we are slowly coming to understand: He is truly present to and with us in the love of His Eucharistic Heart.
As long as the Eucharist continues to be offered, and Jesus continues to abide in His sacramental presence on our altars, He is there to nourish us, to intercede before the Father, and to bind the powers of hell.
Mystery of Salvation
This is the mystery of our salvation; Jesus has chosen to limit His divine salvific action to our free response and cooperation. He needs His priests to proclaim the words of the sacrament and to distribute Him to the faithful. He wills to make His abode in us dependant upon our faith and the free acceptance in love of Himself in the Eucharist.
Satan knows this. He is doing everything he can to weaken and destroy our faith in the Eucharist, to deprive Jesus of those who worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.
Through the centuries we are witnesses of the numbers that have walked away from Jesus because His words are 'hard to accept'; the heresies of early Christianity, the Eucharistic heresies of the middle ages; the controversies of Protestantism and the heresies of modernism; and now, to quote the words of Paul VI, the "smoke of Satan has entered the sanctuary of the Catholic Church."
Archmandrite (Abbot) Boniface a peritus at Vatican II, and member of the Conciliar Commission on the Liturgy, identifies this with the current ideas and attitudes of liberal Catholicism, the loss of faith in the Eucharist both among the laity and the clergy.
In a letter to Inside the Vatican (Rome, April 1996, p. 6) he continues, "This rebellion is so long and strong because the rebel theologians have been organizing a kind of anti-Church, penetrating and seeking to rule local parishes while the bishops keep standing off, displaying a painful lack of true leadership."
Bread of Life
So important is the Eucharist in our lives that Christ willed that He, the Bread of Life, become our daily bread. "Give us this day our super-substantial bread..."
The two versions of the Lord's prayer reported in Matthew (6: 9-13) and in Luke (11:2-4) retain in the Greek substantially the same words and meaning in the prayer the Lord taught His disciples in Aramaic, (ton arton hemon ton epiousion). But for some reason, that I have not yet fathomed, the Latin translations differ between Matthew and Luke. This difference is transmitted in the English and other western translations.
The Greek text of St. Matthew (originally in Aramaic), ton arton hemon ton epiousion, "our super-substantial bread" is accurately translated in the Latin Vulgate as panem supersubstantialem. St. Luke's Latin translation renders it "our daily bread", panem quotidianum. Supersubstantial may have been considered barbaric Latin by St. Jerome. But we now frequently use substance, consubstantial, transubstantiation.
The eastern Christians, Catholic and Orthodox follow the Matthean version, asking for "our supersubstantial bread" according to the various translations. The Christian west asks for "our daily bread."
This difference notwithstanding, scriptural scholarship is in agreement with the early tradition of the Greek and western Fathers, who concur in their interpretation that Jesus' prayer teaches us to pray for the supersubstantial bread, the Bread of Life, which is Jesus Himself in the mystery of the Eucharist and to ask for this daily.
The practice of the early Christians, until they left the catacombs, was the almost daily reception of the Eucharist, as St. John Chrysostom in his treatise on the Eucharist confirms. This was the strength of the early martyrs and confessors of the primitive Church. The same St. John complains about the lassitude of the fourth generation Christians who have lost the fervor of the early Church.
Abuses of Today
Though the lines of communicants of the Eucharist grew following Vatican II, it was not always from a renewed fervor and desire for the Eucharist. As the communion lines expanded, often in right order under the expert management of ushers who emptied each pew in sequence, the lines before the confessionals dwindled and often disappeared, abetted by the lassitude of a comfortable clergy who did not make themselves available for confessions.
The homilies of many of the priests neglected to exhort the people to examine their conscience before approaching, to remind us that we become guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord every time we receive the Sacrament in a state of sin.
To this we must add the abuses of general confessions and absolutions. And finally the abuses of the clergy, who did not follow the strict rules about the use of extraordinary ministers in the administration of the sacraments.
So important was and is it in the eyes of the Lord that we be nourished by the Bread of Life, that St. Paul again exhorts us not only to frequent the worthy reception of the Sacrament, in the example of the first Christians, but he teaches us how to make spiritual Holy Communion. This is available to us not only when we cannot receive the Eucharistic Lord, but makes the Lord available to us at any time throughout the day, each time we want to join with Jesus.
This is important not only for those intent upon advancing in the spiritual life, but it applies especially to those who do not have access to the Eucharist.
St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans (10: 5-13): "Moses wrote about the righteousness that comes from the Law, The one who does these things will live by them.' But the righteousness that comes from faith says. 'Do not say in your heart 'who will go into heaven?' that is to bring Christ down. Or, who will go down into abyss?' that is to bring Christ up from the dead? But what does it say? 'The word is near you in your mouth and in your heart, that is the word of faith that we preach. For if you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified. One confesses with the mouth and so is saved. For the Scripture says, no one who believes in Him will be put to shame."
We apply St. Paul's words to spiritual communion. Christ is as far away as our heart and our lips. All we need do is to desire Him from our heart, and call out to Him, and He is in our heart. Those that desire to receive Him in the Eucharist and cannot do so sacramentally, all they need do is to ask Jesus to enter their hearts in spiritual communion, and He comes with the same graces that the sacramental Eucharist confers.
No tyranny, no persecution, no chastisement, no failure on the part of Christ's ministers can separate us from the love of Jesus. No powers on earth or in hell. We must learn to live in Jesus. We must cleanse our hearts to desire Jesus.
He will come as many times as we call out to Him to be our sanctification, our strength, our defense against the powers of hell, against the tyranny of those who persecute and revile us.
A Prayer of Spiritual Holy Communion
I believe, 0 Lord, and confess that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me this day, 0 Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical supper. I will not reveal your mystery to Your enemies, nor shall I give you a kiss like that of Judas, but like the thief I confess to you: Remember me, 0 Lord, when you come into your kingdom. Remember me, 0 Master, when You come into Your kingdom. Remember me, 0 Holy One, when You come into your Kingdom. May this spiritual partaking of Your holy Mysteries, 0 Lord, be not for my judgement or condemnation but for the healing of soul and body. God, be merciful to me, a sinner. God, cleanse me of my sins, and have mercy on me. I have sinned without number, forgive me, 0 Lord.
0 Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. I wish to be united with your eternal oblation to the Father, with each Eucharistic sacrifice being offered at this moment upon this earth. Lord, Jesus, come and dwell in my heart, nourish me with the Bread of Life, Yourself; cleanse, wash and purify me in the bath of Your Precious Blood.
Our Father, Who art in heaven; hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heave. Give us this day our supersubstantial bread (the Bread of Life); and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen
AFTER HOLY COMMUNION
Having been made worthy in a mystical way to partake of Your immaculate Body and precious Blood, 0 Christ Our God, I acclaim and bless, worship and glorify You, and proclaim the greatness of your saving acts, now and forever and ever. Amen.