Many churches are suspending their in-person worship services for the foreseeable future as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic. We can listen to sermons and even participate in liturgy online, but we can’t eat and drink at the Lord’s table. The Catholic and Anglican churches have prayers for “spiritual communion” when it is physically impossible to receive the bread and wine. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the traditional prayers, but I think I would offer this alternative.
My Jesus, I love you above all things. How I long to receive you with my brothers and sisters at the table you have prepared. Since I cannot at this moment receive you in bread and wine according to your promise in the sacrament of Holy Communion, I ask you to feed me with the manna of your Holy Spirit and nourish me with your Holy presence. I unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from your love. Amen.
For comparison, here is the version from the ACNA Book of Common Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Holy Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to possess you within my soul. And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you, together with all your faithful people [gathered around every altar of your Church], and I embrace you with all the affections of my soul. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
And the Catholic version (modern language):
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment 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.
The Anglican bishop of Pittsburgh suggests that those who are unable to participate in corporate worship, even online, can follow this simple order in their own homes and places of abode:
- Say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
- Read the Collect, the Epistle, and the Gospel of the Day.
- Recite the Nicene Creed.
- Pray for your needs and the needs of others.
- Confess your sins, read the Comfortable Words and exchange the Peace.
- Pray the Collect for Spiritual Communion.
- Recite the Lord’s Prayer.
- Recite the Grace (below).
Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time, with one accord to make our common supplications to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will grant their requests: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.