Stuck because of COVID-19? How to make a Spiritual Communion.

Where I am, in the Cupboard Under The Stairs, the local county has decreed that gatherings of 250 or more, including religious events, are banned.  You can still go to nearly every other sort of place, but not church if there are 250 people.  Fine or imprisonment!   I suppose if there were a few hundred people showing up for Mass, some would have to be turned away.   For my part, I would say, “I’ll say Mass for you who are here at the scheduled time and, after the church clears out, I’ll say Mass again for any remaining.”  Maybe that would work.

However, this could mean that quite a few people don’t get to Mass at all.  They are in most places now dispensed by the local bishop.  Check locally.   Remember also: Nemo ad impossibilia tenetur… no one is held to the impossible.

Still, people want to go to Mass.  They want also the graces of hearing Mass, participating, and also, possibility, receiving Communion.

There are times when it is not possible to receive Communion or one does not choose to receive, but could. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that you can gain great graces through a Spiritual Communion.

I’ll remind you that it is not obligatory to go to Communion at every Mass, even when you attend Mass to fulfill your Sunday Obligations.  It is only obligatory for Catholics to receive once per year, which in 99.999999% of the time, that means also making a good confession.   If you know you should not go to Communion, go to confession, be truly sorry for your sins, make a firm purpose of amendment and straighten up.  Then you can also go to Communion again.

Except when you can’t.

This pandemic thing might get to a point where people aren’t allowed to go out or churches are forced by the state to be closed.

Then you have the option of making a Spiritual Communion.

When might you make a Spiritual Communion?




St. Teresa of Avila wrote in The Way of Perfection: “When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you.”

St. Jean Vianney said: ” If we are deprived of Sacramental Communion, let us replace it, as far as we can, by spiritual communion, which we can make every moment; for we ought to have always a burning desire to receive the good God. Communion is to the soul like blowing a fire that is beginning to go out, but that has still plenty of hot embers; we blow, and the fire burns again.”

St. Thomas Aquinas distinguished the physical and spiritual reception of the Eucharist, and described Spiritual Communion as, “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the most holy sacrament and lovingly embrace him”.

St. Leonard of Port Maurice said: “If you practice the holy exercise of spiritual Communion several times each day, within a month you will see your heart completely changed.”

Benedict XVI recommended making Spiritual Communions in Sacramentum caritatis:

“Even in cases where it is not possible to receive sacramental communion, participation at Mass remains necessary, important, meaningful and fruitful. In such circumstances it is beneficial to cultivate a desire for full union with Christ through the practice of spiritual communion, praised by Pope John Paul II and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life”.

The 16th c. was a time of terrible religious upheaval, war, and plague. The Catechism of the Council of Trent has pointers about Spiritual Communion as part of that Council’s objective to renew the Faith and hold fast against all hellish challenger.

How do you make a Spiritual Communion?

Start with an Examination of Conscience and, perhaps, the Sacrament of Penance.

Since the effects of a good Spiritual Communion can be as much or greater than a regular, physical Communion, it is clear that you must be in the state of grace.

Therefore, you must know what your state of soul is. That’s accomplished through a good examination of consciences. Go to confession if you uncover something serious.

I would also recommend beforehand an act that would remit venial sign, too. You might use Holy Water in blessing yourself and say the Our Father.

Repeat with some frequency.

If we want to get good at something in this earthly plane, such as karate, playing the piano, baking or carpentry, we have to practice it. Repetitio est mater discendi. Repetita iuvant.

I repeat.  If you want to be a good painter or a good pool player, you have to practice. How much more true is that in the spiritual life when the Enemy wants you distracted and even agitated or demoralized.

Perhaps this time of COVID-19 will turn out to turn out spiritual warriors, spiritual Communicants who, in the state of grace, and unflappable, go about their business with the great advantages a Spiritual Communion can bring.

A few formulae for a Spiritual Communion. Sometimes it is best to start with something in which there is, for certain, no error.

St. Alphonsus Liguori:

“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now 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.”

Rafael Merry del Val:

At Thy feet, O my Jesus, I prostrate myself and I offer Thee repentance of my contrite heart, which is humbled in its nothingness and in Thy holy presence. I adore Thee in the Sacrament of Thy love, the ineffable Eucharist. I desire to receive Thee into the poor dwelling that my heart offers Thee. While waiting for the happiness of sacramental communion, I wish to possess Thee in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, since I, for my part, am coming to Thee! May Thy love embrace my whole being in life and in death. I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee. Amen.


As I cannot this day enjoy the happiness of assisting at the holy Mysteries, O my God! I transport myself in spirit at the foot of Thine altar; I unite with the Church, which by the hands of the priest, offers Thee Thine adorable Son in the Holy Sacrifice; I offer myself with Him, by Him, and in His Name. I adore, I praise, and thank Thee, imploring Thy mercy, invoking Thine assistance, and presenting Thee the homage I owe Thee as my Creator, the love due to Thee as my Savior.
Apply to my soul, I beseech Thee, O merciful Jesus, Thine infinite merits; apply them also to those for whom I particularly wish to pray. I desire to communicate spiritually, that Thy Blood may purify, Thy Flesh strengthen, and Thy Spirit sanctify me. May I never forget that Thou, my divine Redeemer, hast died for me; may I die to all that is not Thee, that hereafter I may live eternally with Thee. Amen.


O Immaculate Queen of Heaven and Earth, Mother of God and Mediatrix of every grace: I believe that Thy dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, is truly, really, and substantially contained in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love Him above all things and I long to receive Him into my heart. Since I cannot now receive Him sacramentally, be so good as to place Him spiritually in my soul. O my Jesus, I embrace Thee as One who has already come, and I unite myself entirely to Thee. Never permit me to be separated from Thee. Amen.

Making a Spiritual Communion doesn’t take a lot of time.   People around you might not have a clue that you are at it.  Also, it can be done anywhere, at work, when you are at home taking care of someone who is ill, during a walk, in church before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle or exposed, at Mass in time of contagion when Communion is not distributed or when you choose not to go for any reason, at home because you cannot get up and go out, in the hospital, in prison, in quarantine, on the International Space Station, during boot camp, etc.

And think about what a great preparation making Spiritual Communion is for making a physical good Communion!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. voxborealis says:

    The civil authorities where I am also banned indoor meetings of 250+ people. Following this, all bishops under the civil jurisdiction agreed to cancel ALL weekend masses indefinitely. I’m flabbergasted and not a little saddened at no mass tomorrow…and possibly no Triduum. I can’t believe there was no alternative, that the bishops could not craft some way to keep Sunday mass for the tiny number of faithful who still bother to show up regularly. But such is the state of affairs here.

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  3. veritas vincit says:

    The governor of Ohio banned all public meetings of 100 or more people, with an exemption for religious services. In response, the Ohio bishops have dispensed the Mass obligation for the remaining 3 weekends in March. Public Masses will still be offered (as long as priests who are not at health risk are available) with the faithful who are or might be sick or at health risk, to stay home.

    I’m glad our bishops are taking that approach. Of course, we have (so far) only a dozen or so confirmed cases in the state.

  4. oldCatholigirl says:

    Thank you for this extremely practical spiritual guidance–not just for this time of panic over the pandemic, but every day in the trenches. We’re being fairly sensible in the Kalamazoo diocese: no Communion from the chalice , keeping our distance on the sign of peace, receiving in the hand recommended, but acknowledgement that receiving on the tongue may not be forbidden. Our pastor said from the pulpit that he thought receiving in the hand was the germier of the two alternatives–but we have an altar rail, which helps a lot, (many receive kneeling even at the NO), and he is a real expert at distributing in the traditional way. Larger group activities have been cancelled, including our usual St. Joseph’s Day table, with delicious breads and desserts (preceded by dinner). However, as of today, we are still planning to have our Procession. We have the TLM on three weekday mornings and Sunday at noon, and have added traditional Sunday Vespers for Lent (hoping to continue it afterwards). We have a Holy Hour with Benediction from 6:00-7:00 on Friday evenings, with Stations added at 7:00 during Lent. Father restored the Leonine prayers after Mass a while back (plus we do a daily prayer to St. Philip Neri, which is replaced by Novenas preceding particular feasts, as appropriate. Right now, it’s one to St. Joseph.). Sunday Masses are well attended, especially the noon TLM, which has quite a few burgeoning families. But only a few people attend supplementary devotions, even non-obligatory Masses (except for, say, the candlelit Rorate Mass). I suppose the good news is that there’s little danger of infection since, as proper Catholics, we normally sit spread out all over the church.:)

    I think there is generally a sentiment that the times are desperate, and prayer is the only answer. Only it’s not a quick fix. And people are soooo busy, and often live out in the country. Perhaps the virus will be a wake-up call, and the cancellations which are so drastic in other dioceses may make people appreciate what they have while they still have it. And raising awareness of the nature and value of Spiritual Communion gives all of us a weapon for our spiritual arsenal, in sickness and in health.

  5. baileymxd says:

    Maybe Father or someone here can reassure me that the bishops who are cancelling public Mass are truly doing the right thing and not caving to society.

    We can’t have more than 100 people en masse, with the exception of malls and large restaurants. So, we can’t pray but we can eat at the food court. Maybe we can have a Mass said in front of the Lego store…

    Is this weakness? Is this whole policy of preventing public Masses a trick of the devil? Has our shepherd fallen for this trick? I love our bishop but after this declaration, I am sorely disappointed with the decision.

    If the dispensation is lifted, people have the choice to attend Mass, just like they have the choice to go to the mall, with their own discretion and common sense.

    We had a procession planned for tomorrow and everything….

  6. Kent Wendler says:

    I know it’s not equivalent to being actually physically present to assist at Mass, but I did discover today that there is actually an astonishing number of live-streamed Masses available:

    daily catholic Holy Mass live online church

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    Thank you so much Fr. Z., God bless you and keep you, because you are still in there pitching, and it is very helpful. And really, God bless all here, your comments are so touching. For some reason I’m thinking of Supertradmum tonight, and imagining her praying for us all.
    We are not going to Holy Mass tomorrow, and we could. We are really trying to practice social distancing, in between our Viking raids on Stop and Shop. We will be making a spiritual communion, praying the rosary, and trying to find a live Latin Mass online. Why are not more diocese live-streaming? Problem solved, for anyone who can tune in.
    This is a small sacrifice if we can keep this down in any possible way. Since the important thing is that a priest celebrate, we are not necessary, and surely God is very close to us no matter where we are now. Maybe it will only be for a few weeks, we don’t really know. If we pray, perhaps St. Michael will once again be seen, helping us out in our time of need.

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  9. johnr says:

    Bishop Daly (of Spokane) has announced that those 60 and over and caretakers of those 60 and above are dispensed from having to attend Sunday Mass for the next 3 weekends. Since our church can comfortably hold 200 or so and we normally get about 100 (1/3 of whom are over 60), we can easily do the “social distancing” and still fit.

    He also gave a list of precautions including, “Consider encouraging parishioners to receive Holy Communion in the hand. ” Unfortunately the pastor of our daughter’s parish has determined this allows him to refuse Communion unless given in the hand.

  10. johnr says:

    I just saw that with the Archbishop of Seattle cancelling all public Masses, the local FSSP Parish North American Martyrs will be live-streaming their 10 a.m. Mass. Their web site is at . I hope this “advertising” is OK. It’s not my parish, but it’s the one I attend when in Seattle.

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  12. Kyle says:

    We are planning to attend Mass today, even though our Bishop has dispensed the obligation for the next three weekends.

    Unfortunately, he has also mandated communion in the hand only. When someone on twitter challenged him on this citing Redemptionis Sacramentum, he responded that it does not apply in emergencies and that he has the authority to do so via Canon 223.2 (“In view of the common good, ecclesiastical authority can direct the exercise of rights which are proper to the Christian faithful”).

  13. Sandy says:

    Our diocese will have no Masses after today, Sunday. So painful to hear that really is happening. Reading about spiritual Communion, it hit me that receiving Jesus in the Eucharist removes venial sin. Does that mean we won’t have venial sin removed until we can receive Him again, or does sincere prayer of repentance remove it? Thank you for all you do, Father Z.

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  15. andia says:

    I made a spiritual communion at Mass today -at the end of Mass my deacon offered me communion on the tongue in private in the sacristy. I felt so blessed

  16. Pingback: List of websites that live-stream Holy Mass | Catholic eBooks Project

  17. StOlavssøn says:

    Our Bishop didn’t need the state to ban large gatherings; he made that call himself yesterday. No public Mass and no private Mass with people watching. Priests are instructed to allow no more than 10 people in the church at a time, so if Confession is offered, #11 and above must stand outside the church. Of note, the TLM was packed last Sunday and malls and movie theaters remain open for now. So it is in the Diocese of Arlington VA.

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  20. UncleBlobb says:

    Father Z,
    Thank you for this post and these prayers. I’ve just printed them off to say.

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