Receiving Christ through Spiritual Communion. Really?
In this article expressing a hunger for shepherding in a time when the regular avenues of shepherding are cut off, Janet Smith asks some questions regarding spiritual communion with the Mass and watching Mass that are common among many faithful.
Here are my own responses based on our family's experiencing fasting from Mass and the spiritual experience of seeking unity and light of Christ at a time when we are not able to attend public Mass (a challenge I've had for years, since 2002, because of my brain injury). This are an attempt to address the poverty currently experienced, and do not have the weight of teaching. I am happy to make any corrections required.
What is the efficacy of watching a private Mass?
Q: Does there need to be a congregation for a Mass to be said? What efficacy does a Mass have if there is no congregation there to receive the Eucharist? (The fact that these questions are asked shows that many don’t have a proper understanding of the purpose of the Mass.)
Response: Every Mass prayed is part of the One Mass, at which the entire Communion of Saints is present. Please hold this beautiful, mystical mystery in your heart as you pray in spiritual communion with your priest and bishop, even as they pray for you at the same time. Priests and bishops and cardinals commonly pray private Masses, and yes, they are real Masses.
Q: Is there any benefit to watching Mass on TV? Does it need to be “live”? What is a spiritual communion? Does it really “work”?
Response: God is beyond time and space and knows our limitations and challenges, always, especially in this challenging time of unprecedented global stay-at-home quarantine. We receive Jesus in a spiritual communion attending Mass, which is a bit like watching a cooking show and not getting to join the feast. Prayerfully embrace the mystery that this at once joins us with Jesus and Jesus with us even as we are separated from our Beloved Redeemer and yearn to be reunited.
Q: What if I have a mortal sin on my soul but am unable to receive confession? What should I do?
Jesus is with you and yearns for you to make confession. Yearn for this also. The pope and bishops have addressed this challenge by offering a plenary indulgence:
The Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary has granted a plenary indulgence for people who pray for an end to the pandemic, healing for the sick, and the eternal repose of the dead. Plenary indulgences, which remit all temporal punishment due to sin, must be accompanied by full detachment from sin.
In this case, the person must also fulfill the ordinary conditions of an indulgence, which are sacramental confession, reception of the Eucharist, and prayer for the intentions of the pope, by having the will to satisfy the conditions as soon as possible for them.
To receive the indulgence, a person may offer at least a half hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament or a half hour of prayer with scripture, or the recitation of the rosary or chaplet of divine mercy “to implore from the Almighty God an end to the epidemic, relief for those who are suffering, and eternal salvation of those whom the Lord has called to himself.”
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