Monday, February 18, 2013

Physical and Spiritual Communion

by M. J. Joachim

The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrament of praise and thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the resurrection of Christ. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1359)

Quotes like the aforementioned remind me of a story I read long ago about St. Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I don’t remember the title of the book, nor do I remember exact phrases and words therein. What I do remember is that exercising spiritual communion took on new meaning for me.

In a particular part of the book, St. Margaret Mary asked our Lord about not being able to receive frequent communion, because she was so sick. Jesus told her a story about a cup filled with gold and a cup filled with silver. He asked her which was more precious. She told Him that both were extremely precious, so she couldn’t be sure. Jesus explained to her that she was right. Both silver and gold are very precious indeed – just like receiving Jesus physically through the sacrament of Holy Communion, or receiving Him spiritually by inviting Him into one’s heart.

The point is that we can and always should have Jesus with us, through communion with Him. While it is true that we should receive Him frequently at Mass through the Eucharist, we also should receive Him as often as possible through the exercise of asking Him to enter our hearts through Spiritual Communion.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was born in 1647 in France, at a time when divisions from the Catholic Church were becoming more and more problematic. The protestant movement to separate from the Church was strengthening, while a few heresies were rearing their ugly heads, as well.

Margaret Mary suffered the loss of her father when she was only eight years old, and was sent to live with some nuns in a convent, because her mother did not have the means to care for all seven of her children. During her time in the convent, Margaret Mary also suffered a severe rheumatic illness, which kept her in bed for several years.

Her illness prevented her from attending Mass on a regular basis, which grieved her very much, since she was unable to receive Jesus through the sacrament of Holy Communion. Perhaps this relates to the part I remember so well in the book I read. Jesus consoled Margaret Mary assuring her that her love for Him did not go unnoticed, and that she was in fact communing with Him quite frequently on a very personal level.

St. Margaret Mary became a nun. Saints Margaret Mary, and Jesuit priests and writers, Jean Eudes and Claude de la Columbiere, were chosen to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, during this difficult time in our Catholic Church history. “On repeated occasions, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, in France, and during these apparitions He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it.” (EWTN Devotionals)

Throughout this week, I will be sharing more about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as well as writing a biographical post on our tenth pope. Please join me on this journey and share your thoughts and feelings in the comments.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.

Until next time, I wish you every good thing,

M. J.

Photo credit:  Batoni Sacred Heart, Pompeo Batoni (1708 – 1787), PD - US
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