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An act of spiritual communion is a phrase which is probably unfamiliar to many.  This is a devotional act which may be used on occasions when we are unable to receive Holy Communion.  This could be for a variety of reasons:  we feel spiritually unprepared to receive the Sacrament, or we are at Mass in a Roman Catholic church or elsewhere where we are not permitted to receive the Sacrament; or, as is the case these days, circumstances do not allow us to be present for the celebration of Mass.  

The physical and spiritual reception of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ is of critical importance to the life of the Christian, and regular participation in Mass and Communion is essential to Christian discipleship.  However, in times when we are prevented, we may pray for the spiritual benefits of this Sacrament even though we are not able to receive it.

Over the past few weeks, since I have been unable to celebrate just as we have all been unable to receive, I have officiated and recorded the “Liturgy of the Word” from the Mass; then I have invited those who may be viewing to an “Act of Spiritual Communion” before the reserved Sacrament.  I’ve used two prayers for this, and have been asked to share these prayers in print form.

The first is known as the “Anima Christi” (“Soul of Christ”) a prayer of unknown authorship which dates to the early 14th century:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
O Good Jesu, hear me;
Within thy wounds hide me;
Suffer me not to be separated from thee;
From the malicious enemy defend me;
In the hour of my death call me, and bid me come to thee,
That with thy saints I may praise thee for ever and ever.  Amen.

The second is taken from the St. Augustine Prayer Book:

I worship thee, Lord Jesus,
And kneeling unto thee,
As thou didst come to Mary,
I pray thee come to me.

O most loving Jesus, O most blessed Saviour, come to me, I beseech thee, and unite me to thyself.  Though I cannot now receive thee sacramentally, yet I believe that thou art able, even when received by faith and desire only, to heal, enrich and sanctify me.  Come thou spiritually into my heart.  I desire to unite myself to thee, with all the affections of my soul.  Possess me wholly; let the consuming fire of thy love absorb me, and thy presence abide so intimately in me, that it will be no longer I that live, but thou who livest in me.  Amen.

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