Regular Church-goers as well as many occasional worshippers attend services every Easter to receive Holy Communion. It is special for us on the Day of Resurrection, which in one sense is every Sunday, but Easter Day is special, so how do we manage when the sacrament is not available to us? Andy Roberts has prepared for us an explanation and provides a short liturgy too, that we may like to use in conjunction with the Service of the Word for Easter Day that is accessible on this website.
In the Chrism Eucharist broadcast from South Canonry on Maundy Thursday Bishop Nicholas spoke of two missionaries he had known, John and Audrey Coleman who, in 1981, were held prisoners in Iran. They were unable to receive Communion but every day as John said the Lord’s Prayer, he would cross his hands (as we do when receiving the communion bread) to receive not the sacrament but whatever God gave them that day. Bishop Nicholas then made a point of crossing his hands as he said the Lord’s Prayer later in the service. It was a very moving moment; a reminder that God gives us so much as we travel our Christian journey be it physically, emotionally and/or spiritually.
I am sure there are a great many of us who are really missing meeting together and sharing communion as a church fellowship. That pain of loss will feel even greater as the church celebrates the great festival of Easter. Thankfully many of us will be able to use a computer to share in a streamed service, but as Bishop Nicholas told that story of John and Audrey Coleman’s communion without bread or wine it reminded me of the ancient rite of Spiritual Communion, a rite so appropriate for us to use in these strange times.
The Church of England explains:-
“Spiritual Communion is little known within the Church of England but provision has been made since the 1549 Prayer Book for people who are so incapacitated as to be unable to receive the elements to eat and drink spiritually. St Thomas Aquinas defined Spiritual Communion as ‘an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him’. That is, by our desire for Christ in the Sacrament, we are able to partake of the fruits and advantages of the Blessed Sacrament itself.
The Church safeguards this privilege of Spiritual Communion by requiring the communicant to consider:--
1. The need for repentance, as in the case of Sacramental Communion.
2. The need of a real faith that Christ died to save humanity, and that certain benefits are received by the soul as the result.
In recollection of these benefits and in thanksgiving for them the communicant will receive the Body and Blood of Christ, to their soul's good as surely as if they were partaking of the consecrated elements in the service of the Church.”
Here follows the Order of Service for Spiritual Communion.
You might choose to make your Spiritual Communion at a particular time of day, or after viewing a live streamed service.
¶If on any Sunday or other Day of Obligation you are prevented from making your Communion you may join in the prayers of the Universal Church by using the following form by yourself or with your family.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord is here. The Spirit is with us.
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
¶You may want to read the Collect for the day, the Epistle, and the Holy Gospel. You may find these readings for every day of the year at http://almanac.oremus.org/.Or use the following:
First Reading – Revelation 3.20
Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Psalm – Psalm 62
On God alone my soul in stillness waits;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold, so that I shall never be shaken.
Gospel – John 15.5
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
¶Spend a few moments praying for the people you know and love, the needs of the world, and for an end to the current Pandemic.
¶Kneel or sit and read the Confession
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, I have sinned against you and against my neighbour, in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through my own deliberate fault. I am truly sorry and repent of all my sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive me all that is past; and grant that I may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen.
¶Then say: Almighty and merciful God, pardon and deliver me from all my sins. Amen.
¶Read the Comfortable Words.
Hear the words of comfort our Saviour Christ says to all who truly turn to him: Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11.28
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3.16
Hear what Saint Paul says:
This saying is true and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Timothy 1.15
Hear what Saint John says:
If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 2.1,2
In union, O Lord with the faithful at every altar of your Church where the Holy Eucharist is now being offered this day, and remembering the community of the Cathedral, my own parish, and those worshipping within them, I long to give you praise and thanksgiving for creation and all the blessings of this life, for the redemption won for us by your life, death, and resurrection, for the means of grace and the hope of glory. I present to you my body and soul as a living sacrifice, with the earnest wish that I may always be united with you. And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I pray that you will come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you, and embrace you with all the strength of my soul and the life you have given me. Let nothing ever separate me from you. May I live and die in your love. Amen.
¶Spend a few moments in meditation upon the fact that God so loved you that he sent his only-begotten Son into the world for you, and afterward say:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Conclude with The Grace
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.