SIX SIMPLE STEPS TO MAKE AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION FOR CATHOLICS

With the COVID-19 global pandemic sweeping across the world, and as our country, Nigeria records more cases, concerns are growing and frantic efforts are being made by government and religious leaders to curb the spread. One of such measures is the suspension of religious gatherings, which means churches will remain empty of worshippers for the time being.

This comes as a great source of concern and worry for devout Catholics who are feeling perturbed by the thought of missing Mass and reception of the Holy Eucharist for an indefinite period of time. To such brothers and sisters, I say, do not lose faith, but first try to stay alive and safe, for the dead cannot worship God (cf. Isaiah 38:18). In such extreme times as we are in now, the church has provided for us, the consolation of an Act of Spiritual Communion.

WHAT IS AND ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION?

St. Thomas Aquinas once defined a Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament [in Communion at Mass] and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him.”

The Spiritual Communion is a practice by which Catholics who, for reasons beyond them, are unable to receive Holy Communion at Mass at a particular time, unite themselves in faith with the Eucharistic Jesus. While it does not take the place of actually receiving the Eucharistic specie(s) sacramentally, it does unite the faith of the one making it with the whole church and brings the presence of Jesus closer to the person.

Also, for those times you can’t make Mass, or can’t take Communion because of an unconfessed mortal sin (for which you can ask for and receive God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance), you can still reach out to Him by making a Spiritual Communion in prayer!

WHERE AND WHEN CAN I MAKE AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION?

You can do this in a Church, a Chapel of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament or anywhere you find yourself. It can also be done at anytime.

HOW TO MAKE AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

  1. Make the sign of the Cross
  2. Do a brief examination of conscience and then pray the Confiteor (I confess to Almighty God…)
  3. Read and meditate on the readings of Mass for the day.
  4. Say the following prayer: Oh Jesus, I turn toward the holy tabernacle where You live hidden for love of me. I love you, O my God. I cannot receive you in Holy Communion. Come, nevertheless, and visit me with Your grace. Come spiritually into my heart. Purify it. Sanctify it. Render it like unto Your own. Amen.

OR

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 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. Amen.

Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

5. Say a prayer of thanksgiving. You can use the prayer, “O Sacrament Most Holy…”

6. Conclude with the sign of the Cross.

HOW TO RECITE THE CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is recited using the ordinary rosary beads of five decades. You can pray it following the simple steps below


1. Make the Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

2. Opening Prayers

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. 

(Repeat three times) 
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You!

3. Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

4. Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

5. The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

6. On the large “Our Father” beads, say…

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

7. On the 10 Small Beads of Each Decade

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

8. Repeat for the remaining decades

Saying the “Eternal Father” (6) on the “Our Father” bead and then 10 “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion” (7) on the following “Hail Mary” beads.

9. Conclude with Holy God (Repeat three times)

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

10. Closing Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

NOTE: IF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE DOES NOT PERMIT YOU TO SAY THE FULL PRAYERS, YOU CAN USE THE SHORTER VERSION

  1. Make the sign of the cross
  2. Say the Opening Prayer
  3. Say the “Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood…”
  4. Say the “For the sake of his sorrowful passion…” (10x)
  5. Say the “Holy God, holy Mighty one…” (3x)
  6. Say the concluding prayer

HOMILY FOR 3RD SUNDAY OF LENT, YEAR A: “IF ONLY YOU KNEW…”

3RD SUNDAY OF LENT, YEAR A

By: Rev. Fr. AMEH Sylvanus

Readings: Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-2. 5-8; John 4:5-42

Theme: If only you knew…

This reflection shall focus majorly on today’s gospel narrative. In it, we read of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman whom he begged for water to drink.

The reality of thirst and the human need for water is one that even Jesus’ humanity had to bow to. And when Jesus begged the Samaritan woman for water, she wondered why he, a Jew, should ask her, a Samaritan, for water. But this reading has a few dynamics which we will need to understand, in order to understand the woman’s shock and amazement. So, let us take a brief look at the origin of the Samaritans’ sour relationship with the other Jews.

In 720 BC, Assyria attacked the northern kingdom of Israel and took many people away as captives (2 Kgs 17:6). The Assyrians later brought in their own people and settled them in Samaria. The remnant Jews who were left behind inter-married with these foreign settlers, a direct contravention of God’s express command forbidden intermarriage between Jews and gentiles (Deut 7:1-4; emphasis on verses 3-4). This defiled them and made them “impure” Jews. Much later, the southern kingdom of Judah was also attacked and destroyed by Babylon, including the Temple in Jerusalem. They too, were deported, but the Jews from Judah vehemently chose to remain pure. When eventually, King Cyrus released them, in the days of prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, they returned home and started rebuilding the Temple. The Jews of Samaria offered to help, but they were rejected pointblank and told they were defiled, impure Jews. The Samaritan Jews were further barred from worshipping in the Temple in Jerusalem, which was the final nail in the coffin. This led the Samaritans to set up their own temple on Mt. Gerizim. This worsened the already existing bitterness between them. Hence, the traditional Jews and Samaritans do not mingle after that time. This quarrel/malice lasted more than 400 years before Jesus. This explains the surprise of the Samaritan woman when Jesus begged her for water. To make matters worse, she is a woman, and Rabbis do not talk to women in public. From this gospel text therefore, we shall draw two major lessons.

1. Jesus sets for us, the necessity of peace and reconciliation

Ignoring an age old national malice, Jesus made the move of peace and friendship on the Samaritan woman, and eventually, on her entire town. Not minding the fact that Jews and Samaritans do not mix, Jesus engaged the woman in a conversation, which ended in her conversion and that of many others in her village. When Jesus went on to stay two days in the Samaritan town, he must have also left an impression on his disciples concerning this long standing hatred between Jews and Samaritans. Jesus teaches us here by his action, to break down the walls of hatred and malice, especially as a result of family quarrels, some of which may have even taken place several years before we were born, and to build the bridge of reconciliation and peace. Severally, the Bible tells us of the need to be reconciled to one another and to live in peace with everyone. For instance:

  • Matthew 5:23 – If you are offering your gifts at the altar and there, you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gifts there at the altar, go and first be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gifts (implying that we cannot be at peace with God if we are not at peace with one another).
  • Matthew 6:14-15 – If you forgive those who offend you the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive you either.
  • Hebrews 12:14 – Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see God.
  • Romans 12:14 – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

There are many people today who bear grudges against others for varying length of time. If you are one of such, today, Jesus invites you to break that barrier of malice and reach out with the hand of friendship. Sadly even, some people will rather suffer hardship than ask help from someone they consider an enemy. Today, Jesus shows us a better path.

2. Jesus tells us that helping the needy benefits us more

By asking the Samaritan woman for water, Jesus was inviting her to help a stranger in need. At first, the woman hesitates because first, Jesus was from an enemy community, and secondly, she had the upper hand, having the bucket and the rope. But Jesus tells her, “If only you knew the gift of God…” If only you knew what God has in store for you when you give out what is in your hand, then you will be the one asking for help. But she did not understand. Many of us too do not seem to understand why God will ask us to forgive before he will forgive us, to give before he will give us, to do before he will do for us. The reason is because in giving, we are equipped with the capacity to receive.

This is why Jesus says “Give, and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, shaken together, pressed down and running over, will be poured into your bosom (Lk 6:38). Before Jesus could give the woman living water, he first asked her for physical water. And he said to her, “If only you knew…” Today too, and especially in this season of Lent when we emphasize mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and almsgiving, Jesus says to us, “If only you knew…”

  • If only you knew what great mercy awaits you, you will forgive those who wrong you.
  • If only you knew, that breaking the barriers of hatred and malice opens the door to inner peace and freedom, you will reach out and make for peace.
  • If only you knew, that doing charity opens the floodgates of blessings and mercy, you will not hold back your gifts.
  • If only you knew, that the person begging you for food or drink could be Jesus in disguise, you will help the needy.
  • If only we knew the blessings of obedience which God is offering us, we would listen to his commands.

Oh that today, you will listen to his voice, harden not your hearts (Psalm 95:7).

In summary, today, God invites us to reach out to others and do two things:

  1. offer the hand of peace and reconciliation to those with whom we have misunderstandings, and
  2. offer also, the hand of charity to those in need.

We pray for the courage to heed the word of God for us today. Amen