Spiritual Communion and Act of Contrition

In the time when the world seems upside down our spiritual practices shall not suffer. Right now, masses, confessions, other sacraments are not for the public audience. All the prayer groups and the social gatherings are suspended as well. So, what to do to not lose hope but use this time of testing and fear to catchup spiritually. I have a few suggestions today:

In the case we cannot receive the Body and Blood of Christ at the Holy Mass, the Church encourages us to receive Jesus in the spiritual way. Actually, this spiritual practice is recommended to all of us, all the time, not only in the extraordinary times like the one we just going through. Daily spiritual communion opens our hearts to the presence of Christ in our daily struggles.
How do we do it? How can we practice the spiritual communion one may ask. The answer is simple; just the same way as we receive the communion during mass on Sundays. At the beginning, I would suggest a few moments of spiritual preparation, for example reading of the gospel from the day, then shortly meditate on what you just read. Then we can examine briefly our conscious and ask God for forgiveness of our sins and then receive spiritually Jesus Christ into our hearts. Then for a few minutes we stay in silence, focusing on Him, who just entered our hearts, just like after receiving communion in the church. The whole ritual of spiritual communion can have different elements of preparation, but it is completely up to a person how one wants to proceed. There are no stiff rules, but a lot of room for our very personal and intimate way of finding the One. Whatever works for you, engage in it, and it will help you to grow in the love of Christ.

In the times when we have no access to the sacramental confession administered by the priest, what the church recommends is the perfect act of contrition for our sins. It is highly questionable if one can prepare a “perfect” act of contrition, but as long as each one of us do our spiritual best shooting for perfection, this is what matters to God. In such an act we are sorry. But the emphasis is not that much on our sins but on the mercy of God. Being sorry means I realize my weaknesses and faults, but what is more important in this process, realization against Whom I have sinned! Realization that I have wounded and betrayed the One whom I shall love! The One I love! It is not that much about “poor me”. It’s about God whom I betrayed again by not loving him enough and choosing myself over him. How do we practice the act of contrition in practice? First, we take a few moments in silence for the whole process. We go through all day and we examine our thoughts, words and deeds. We see the blessings of the day and we thank God for them. We also see our transgressions we name them, and we apologize for them. Another method could be like that; this approach looks at the 3 dimensions. Today, how I have offended God, others and myself? Then, we are sorry for our sins, we bring our contrite hearts and ask to forgive our weaknesses and faults of the day. We can use the formal words of an act of contrition we say at the confessional “My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.”

If we truly contrite and humble, God in his love is forgiving us our sins and giving us pure hearts and grace very similar to the one available in the sacrament of reconciliation. Of course, at the first opportunity we go to the confession and we confess our sins through the priest to God. Therefore, our act of contrition is not excusing anyone from abstaining from sacramental form of penance well known to us in the normal circumstances.

Today I suggested only 2 spiritual approaches. If the topic intrigues you enough, there is a lot of resources, including the internet and the theological books, to learn more about those practices. My goal was to pick your interest in those subjects, remind you about those spiritual instruments the church is giving us and help you in this time of unsure. Next time I would like to continue the topic and give you more spiritual suggestions for the next weeks and months,

Pax Christi,

Fr. Pawel

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