A SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

I was out of milk, and so I found myself standing on line in the local Shop and Stop.  Suddenly the lady in front of me pointed her finger at me and said “You!  I look at your face every day.” I asked her name and if she might explain.  She told me that she had a picture of me on her refrigerator from her child’s First Holy Communion.  I was honored.  She said every time she looked at the picture she said a little prayer.  I guess I am on a lot more refrigerators than I realize.  It reminded me of the person I was visiting at Huntington Hospital a few years ago.  My friend asked me to visit her son who had had surgery.  I knew I had a lot to do the next day, so I went over very early the next morning around 6AM.  Since no one ever sleeps in the hospital I figured the early visit would not matter.  I arrived, stood at the foot of the hospital bed and said to him “You don’t know me, but I am a friend of your mother.”  He said, “You’re Father Gordon.”  I asked how he knew who I was since we had never met before.  He said: “You’re my mother’s screensaver.  I see your face every day.”  I was honored.

The ubiquitous cell phones allow us to be present to others in ways previously unimagined.  I remember at a wedding during the exchange of rings when I looked down and saw the photographer looking up at me from the floor.  He was determined to get a perfect shot.  No matter where we go today everyone is filming with their cell phone; which brings me to the point of this story.

At a recent funeral, the family had set up a camera to record the funeral for those at home who could not be present.  What I did not realize was that they were doing more than recording the funeral Mass, it was being transmitted live by something called “Skype,” which is a type of video-conferencing.  Halfway around the world in the Philippines the family was gathered around their I-Pad participating in the Mass.  While they could not be present for the funeral Mass itself, they were praying with us from 8,000 miles away.  I must admit it was a mysterious concept thinking that I was speaking directly to a family and worshipers half a world away.  It was the middle of the night in Manila, yet they were watching…and more importantly praying right along with us in New York.  At Communion time, I asked those in the Philippines to make a “Spiritual Communion” along with us.

Of course, the optimal way to receive Jesus is in the reception of Holy Communion at Mass.  There are times however when one cannot be present for Mass, with good reason.  One can still call upon the Lord Jesus by making a “Spiritual Communion” in prayer.  The church tells us that we have only to turn to the Lord from anywhere you might be, at any time day or night.”  One only has to approach him with sincerity and desire.  It was our friend Saint John Vianney who wrote: “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, for no wall can shut us out from the God.”

So, any time, day or night, no matter where you are you can make a “Spiritual Communion.”  You can be driving, on the train, in a prison cell, or flying through the clouds.  You can unite your prayer with the literally countless Communions received that day throughout the world.  You will be in communion with all those across the globe who receive the Lord at the countless Masses offered.  There is never an hour that the Mass is not being offered somewhere in the world.  Every hour of the day gives us the opportunity to unite our prayers with the all-powerful Mass that is being offered somewhere and everywhere until the end of the world.

Spiritual Communion of Saint Alphonsus Lilguori

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.

– Fr. Gerard Gordon