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Our Desire for the Eucharist

When I posted my homily last week, I included a link to an Act of Spiritual Communion and some information about it. It was the first week after Masses were suspended because of the Coronavirus in the Diocese of Rochester where I serve as a priest. We continue to deal with the Coronavirus so this is another week without public Masses. I pray often for the Coronavirus to end. God is listening. God is with us. God who sees what is in your heart will repay you (see gospel for Ash Wednesday, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18).

Here I include the words of the Act of Spiritual Communion:

Prayer for Spiritual Communion
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. Amen.

I want to offer some reflection on this prayer now as we face this time without the Eucharist. The first line speaks of what is at the heart of our faith, the Eucharist stating our belief that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. The bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is Jesus! This is why we yearn for it. (For more on how it is Jesus himself who tells us that it is his Body and Blood, see my recent presentation on the Eucharist.)

Next, in this prayer, we state that we love Jesus above all else. Our lives can be busy at times but we want to put Jesus first (this isn’t always easy). We desire to receive Jesus. I emphasize “desire” because the “desire” is key here. There are more and more people today who say they are spiritual but not religious. They think it is not necessary to come to church. Do they desire Jesus? I leave them to being between them and Jesus.

There are those who might come to church once in a while. Do they desire Jesus? There are some people who come more out of obligation than desire. Sometimes, that is because the religious education they received was lacking in helping them realize all that God offers us in the Eucharist. They know they long for (i.e. desire) what the Eucharist offers but struggle to understand.

Then, there are those of us who want to be in church every week, maybe everyday because they desire Jesus. Yet, right now people cannot receive Jesus sacramentally, through no fault of their own but because of the Coronavirus. So, in this Act of Spiritual Communion, you ask that Jesus come at least spiritually into your hearts.

Jesus will come in response to your desire. Remember, God sees what is your heart. God knows your desire. In my recent presentation on Baptism and Confirmation, I spoke about what happens to infants who die without Baptism. On slide 31, I offered the following two quotes:

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1129 “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1257 “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

The first tells us that the Sacraments are necessary. Our faith still teaches that we should “Keep the Sabbath Holy” and come to church weekly where we can give praise and worship to God as well as receive the Eucharist. If we are ill or snowed in, thus being “prevented” from coming to Mass, there is no sin.

At this time we are prevented (and excused by the bishops) from coming to Mass, not because we are all sick but to prevent us as well as others from contracting the Coronavirus. So, we ask Jesus to come into your hearts spiritually. Here I point to the second quote I just offered above, God, “himself is not bound by his sacraments.” We need the Sacraments. They are the way in which we can be aware of receiving the grace that God offers us. God can, and does, give us that grace whenever we truly desire it.

Before public Masses people were saying to me that they hoped we would be able to keep celebrating Mass. They showed their desire for the Eucharist. Since public Masses have been suspended even more people have said they hope the suspension ends soon. They too have showed their desire. Jesus comes to you in your desire.

Does that mean we don’t have to come to Mass anymore? Are we off the hook for good?

Absolutely not!!!!i

Yes, God gives you the grace if you truly desire to receive the Eucharist but if you truly desire to receive the Eucharist, you will come to receive the Eucharist as so as soon as possible. When the suspension of public Masses is lifted, you will come to Mass right away. That is the evidence of your desire.

Until you are can return to public Masses, do what you can to let God into your hearts. Do what you can to “Keep the Sabbath holy.” Watch Mass on TV or online. Read the Sunday readings, even the daily readings (available online). Give God some of your time in prayer (Prayer Resources).

Show your desire to receive Jesus. Open yourself to him in prayer, make an Act of Spiritual Communion, and Jesus will come into your heart and soul.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

One Comment

  1. Thomas House says:

    Fr Jeff, Your words of spiritual communion are very meaningful today since we cannot receive the body and blood of Christ. We still can and do have God in our hearts always through our spiritual readings and daily prayers. We do every day desire receiving holy communion, and since we can’t, your words remind us that God is always in our hearts.

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