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What is Spiritual Communion?

By Fr. Sean McDermott

Since most of us many not make it to church during this time, there is a need for us to learn more about the liturgy of the Spiritual Communion. First, if you are unfamiliar with Spiritual Communion, read through the liturgy which can be found here. Second, below are two podcasts that explain Spiritual Communion more fully.

The Sacramentalists posted this one which explains the BCP rubric and the liturgy:

The following talk was given by Fr. Glenn Spencer via Zoom to the parishioners of All Saints Anglican Church in Charlottesville, VA on March 22. Below you may read Fr. Glenn's outline.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

True Vine – Carlos Cazares

1. Spiritual communion is not a substitute for feeding upon Christ in the mass. If you can attend mass then the need for spiritual communion does not exist. What makes Spiritual Communion a blessing and benefit to the Catholic is that we may benefit from the Sacrament of the Altar when an impediment prevents us from participating in the mass.

2. Real impediments may be things like:

a) First of all the sort of situation we are going through right now which is a universal impediment to receiving the Blessed Sacrament.

b) individual illness that prohibits one attending mass. 

c) the absence of a priest to consecrate the elements. 

d) or some other necessity that is out of your control. 

e) an uneasy conscious wherein one doesn’t feel one can receive communion with confidence in God’s mercy. 

f) when one’s family is on vacation and no Anglo-Catholic mass is available. 

Spiritual Communion is not a valid alternative to attending the mass apart from some necessity that prohibits you from attending mass.

3. Spiritual Communion is an act of faith in God’s mercy whereby one places one’s full confidence in God’s mercy & loving kindness and thus receives from God all the benefits that flow to the Christian when receiving the Blessed Sacrament, even when it is impossible to receive the Sacrament itself. It is not merely an exercise to make us feel better about things, but it is an act of faith in God the Blessed Trinity. It is an act of love for God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And it is an act of hope, in which we lay hold of God’s will for our lives and the life of the world. 

4. In addition to that, this present danger, may also help us experience a solidarity with Christians over the years whose experience of sacramental depravation was simply not part of our real life experience. Now it is. Imagine those members of Christ Body in lands & times when the Church had no priests because they had been imprisoned and frequently executed. Imagine those times and nations in which the Church’s very existence was against the law of the land. Think of the days after the Russian Revolution, or a nation like Saudi Arabia, or Japan from 1549 – 1614 when Church was illegal and public worship was impossible. Even in those times and in those nations Christ was present to his Bride. Maybe this necessity laid upon us today can help us pass over to the situation of much of Church through out history when she was deprived of the life giving Sacrament.

Fr. Sean McDermott is Curate of All Saints Anglican Church in Charlottesville, VA and Editor in Chief of Earth & Altar.


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