According to St. Thomas Aquinas, a spiritual communion is “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him.” One good time to make a spiritual communion is while we are adoring Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, but we can make them at any time of the day or night, multiple times a day! Spiritual communions are yet another way to “pray constantly” as St. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. They help us to stay focused on our dear Lord throughout the day–and night, if we are awake.
Pope St. John Paul II in his landmark encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia encourages spiritual communions: “…[I]t is good to cultivate in our hearts a constant desire for the sacrament of the Eucharist. This was the origin of the practice of ‘spiritual communion,’ which has happily been established in the Church for centuries and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life.
“St. Teresa of Jesus wrote: ‘When you do not receive Communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you’” (#34). (Of course, St. Teresa is not referring to avoiding Sunday Mass through your own fault.)
And Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in Sacramentum Caritatis: “Even in cases where it is not possible to receive sacramental communion, participation at Mass remains necessary, important, meaningful and fruitful. In such circumstances it is beneficial to cultivate a desire for full union with Christ through the practice of spiritual communion, praised by Pope John Paul II and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life” (#55).
Once St. Catherine of Siena saw Jesus holding two chalices. He told her: “In this golden chalice I put your sacramental communions. In this silver chalice I put your spiritual communions. Both chalices are quite pleasing to me.”
“When we feel the love of God growing cold, let us instantly make a Spiritual Communion. When we cannot go to the church, let us turn towards the tabernacle; no wall can shut us out from the good God,” said St. John Vianney.
St. Leonard of Port Maurice said, “If you practice the holy exercise of spiritual Communion several times each day, within a month you will see your heart completely changed.”
You can make a spiritual communion using your own words (or even without putting your desire to receive Our Lord into words), or you can use one of the beautiful traditional spiritual communion prayers, including this one by St. Alphonsus Liguori. (In addition to celebrating daily Mass, St. Padre Pio prayed this very prayer at various times during the day.)
Act of 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 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.