Videos with local priests explain spiritual communion
Friday, Mar. 27, 2020
SALT LAKE CITY — With public attendance at Mass prohibited because of the coronavirus pandemic, Catholics are asked to make a spiritual communion rather than receiving the sacrament physically. Many Catholics, however, are unfamiliar with the idea of a spiritual communion. As a result, the Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Stewardship and Development has produced videos on the topic – one in English with Father Martin Diaz, rector of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and one in Spanish with Father Langes Silva, the diocesan judicial vicar.
The text of the video with Fr. Diaz follows.
“We are in very difficult times – people are unable to receive Communion, and so we have what we call, what we understand to be, spiritual communion. So what is spiritual communion, when people cannot receive the Eucharist?
“We know that there are a number of reasons why people cannot receive Communion. Some people are in irregular marriages; some people with grave sin. Others are homebound; they cannot come to Mass; they cannot receive Communion. Of course now with the coronavirus, the people cannot receive Communion.
“Spiritual communion is our understanding that we are one people; we are one body, one bread — as we say, one Body of Christ. And as one body, we are in union with one another; we are in communion with one another; we are one people. When we receive Communion, it is the sign in reality of that oneness we have as a people before God and with God, but when people cannot receive Communion, that oneness with God and that oneness with each other is not diminished.
“Over the centuries, many saints have told us that spiritual communion is given to them as a gift from God so that they can be one with the community.
“It is a difficult time and we invite people to participate in Mass [by] watching on their computer, on their phone, on their devices, and when it comes time for Communion, to understand deeply and fully that we are one with each other.
“That’s what spiritual communion is; that we are one with each other. We are one body, one Christ. It is Christ who is our head, and as that one body of Christ we pray together. Whether we are physically together or not, whether we are physically able to receive Communion, we are one people before God and with God, and in this time of great distress, worldwide distress, we pray together. We pray that God will lift this horrible epidemic. We pray for those who are hurting and sick, those who are isolated and alone. We pray that we would be that one people of God, together in Christ.”
In additional comments, Fr. Diaz said that for people to make an effective spiritual communion, they have to not only watch the livestreamed or videotaped Mass, they must be prayerfully present and focus on the liturgy.
“It’s not just dropping in,” he said. “It’s really taking a prayerful time, either individually or with the family, to attend Mass either streamed or a video.”
At Communion, those watching should focus on the oneness offered by the sacrament, he said.
“Whether we are at Mass or not at Mass, we are one Body of Christ,” he said, so every time a person puts his or her mind and heart to God, or helps another person, “they are in communion with one another. It’s the Body of Christ ministering … that’s communion with one another.”
The structure of the Mass includes the Lord’s Prayer, in which the congregants ask to be forgiven of their trespasses just as they forgive others; then there is the Sign of Peace, signifying their peace with each other; then the Agnes Dei, asking the Lord to grant peace.
“All of this to prepare us to be one, not just with me and God – that’s only a small fraction – it is a oneness of a people. The people are one with God. Because why? Because we are one humanity with one God, and that’s what the Eucharist is. It’s not only a sign and a symbol, it’s a reality, because it’s a sacrament; it’s God at work, helping us to be a humanity that’s one. All the divisions we have mean nothing – we are one people, one humanity, with God.”
God always brings good out of bad, Fr. Diaz said, and he believes good will come out of this pandemic. Because of the pandemic, people are now being asked to live an extended Holy Saturday, when there is no Mass because Jesus has been crucified and buried, Fr. Diaz said. “We’re being asked to live in the tomb, live in the darkness, to close down, be isolated, so that we can experience the resurrection. The new life that we will experience after the virus is so much greater than the life before in the same way that the life before with Jesus was good, but the life after the Resurrection is far better. And I think that’s the way that God works. God always is at work in humanity; he is always working with us, and always bringing us out of that darkness of the tomb and into the glory of the Resurrection. That’s our faith; that’s what we believe.”
The videos are available on the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City’s YouTube channel, https://youtu.be/FNGOd1vVZYk