23rd March, 2020 - Spiritual Communion
At the moment, and for some time to come, many, many of us will not be able to make our physical communion. It is important to suggest alternative ways of maintaining our communion with God. God chooses sacraments like the Eucharist to meet us, but He never said He would only meet us there, only love us if we physically ate, only bless us if we literally drank.
The Church has therefore always allowed us, if we are physically prevented for some serious reason from sharing in a celebration of the Eucharist, to share in the communion of Jesus Christ by repenting our sins, believing that Christ died on the cross for our redemption, earnestly remembering the benefits we have as a result of His sacrifice, and giving Him hearty thanks, and so spiritually eating and drinking His body and blood, even though we do not receive the sacrament in our mouths.
The Church of England has just reiterated this and published guidance on Spiritual Communion with a form of prayers which we can use to give thanks for our communion with Jesus Christ. This is attached at the end of this note.
There are also other ways of keeping in touch with and being involved in worship. If you have access to the web, please look at the St Edburg’s website https://www.stedburgschurch.org/ which I particularly recommend. If you click on Virtual Services on the home page, you will find a video of yesterday’s Holy Eucharist and other resources, and we shall be using the website and our Facebook page to post news, services and messages.
Stay safe and well and may God be with you
Dr Christopher Young
Licensed Lay Minister,
St Edburg’s Church
Guidance from the Church of England on Spiritual Communion and Coronavirus (https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/Guidance%20on%20Spiritual%20Communion%20and%20Coronavirus.pdf)
The term ‘Spiritual Communion’ has been used historically to describe the means of grace by which a person, prevented for some serious reason from sharing in a celebration of the Eucharist, nonetheless shares in the communion of Jesus Christ. The form of prayer below offers Christians an opportunity to give thanks for their communion with him, particularly at times when they would ordinarily be present at the Eucharist.
The Book of Common Prayer instructs us that if we offer ourselves in penitence and faith, giving thanks for the redemption won by Christ crucified, we may truly ‘eat and drink the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ’,although we cannot receive the sacrament physically in ourselves. Making a Spiritual Communion is particularly fitting for those who cannot receive the sacrament at the great feasts of the Church, and it fulfils the duty of receiving Holy Communion ‘regularly, and especially at the festivals of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun or Pentecost’ (Canon B 15).
The Church of which we are members is not defined by the walls of a building but by the Body of Christ of which we are members. In making our communion spiritually, we are joining with Christians everywhere to be nourished by the one who tells us, ‘I am the Bread of Life’.
In making a Spiritual Communion, you may wish to pray all or part of the following, as you are able.
An act of Spiritual Communion
You may wish to find a space for prayer in front of a cross, a candle, or a special place. You might choose to make your Spiritual Communion at a particular time of day, or after viewing a live streamed service.
Reflect on the day and on your relationships.
What good things have come from God today?
Where have I fallen short?
What might I do tomorrow?
You may wish to say or pray
Lord, have mercy.
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy
Read the following words from Scripture. If you have access to today’s readings for Holy Communion, you may wish to read and reflect on them.
Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ John 6.35
Pray for the needs of the world, for your local community, and for those close to you. End with the Lord’s Prayer.
Give thanks for the saving death and resurrection of Jesus and ask him to be with you now.
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given me,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen. after St Richard of Chichester
You might then add one or more of the following prayers:
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples, ‘I am with you always’.
Be with me today, as I offer myself to you.
Hear my prayers for others and for myself, and keep me in your care. Amen.
O God, help me to trust you,
help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me from your love revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord, in these days of mercy, make us quiet and prayerful;
in these days of challenge, make us stronger in you;
in these days of emptiness, take possession of us;
in these days of waiting, open our hearts to the mystery of your cross. Angela Ashwin
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you most humble and hearty thanks
for all your goodness and loving kindness.
We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And give us, we pray, such a sense of all your mercies that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful,
and that we show forth your praise, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service,
and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Conclude with the following:
The Lord bless us,
and preserve us from all evil, and keep us in eternal life. Amen.