Challoner’s Reflection on The Imitation of Christ1
BOOK FOUR: AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION
CHAPTER XIV.: The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ
How to make a good spiritual Communion. Spiritual communion, which the Council of Trent approves of and so strongly advises and commends as a substitute for the sacramental and corporal reception of Jesus Christ, may be made at all times and in all places, whether we are in the presence of the blessed sacrament are not. We may make it every hour, or after a Hail Mary, said in honour of the Blessed Virgin, mother of God, uniting ourselves to those holy dispositions with which she conceived Jesus Christ in her chaste womb. We should bring our minds to a respectful remembrance of Jesus Christ in the most holy sacrament; we should there adore him, and direct our hearts towards him, as Daniel did towards the temple; we should give all to him, and ardently desire to receive him sacramentally.
But the most proper time for making a good spiritual communion is when we assist at Mass, at the time of the priest’s communion. Then a Christian, animated with a lively and actual faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the blessed sacrament, and with an ardent desire of being intimately united to him, should evince such dispositions, by humbling himself profoundly in his presence, and esteeming himself unworthy of really receiving him, implore him to come and dwell in his mind by faith, and in his heart by love and gratitude for his goodness, that so he may say with the apostle, I live now, not I, but Christ liveth in me.
O most amiable Saviour! who wast the perpetual object and reigning desire of the ancient patriarchs and prophets, and of all the saints of the Old Testament, who sighed incessantly for thy incarnation, come into my soul, which burns with the desire of receiving Thee and of being united to Thee, as the author of my salvation, and the source of all good. Come and destroy within me the tyranny of sin and self-love, and establish there the reign of thy grace and charity. I have reason to judge myself unworthy of really partaking of thy body and blood, but in thy mercy grant me to partake of thy spirit, and of thy virtues, through the desire I have of receiving Thee in the most holy sacrament.
But, O Lord, do Thou come and purify my heart from all attachment to myself or to creatures, my heart which was made but to love and to possess Thee. Thou only canst satisfy it, and all that is not Thee is as nothing. O amiable God! O loving God! O God love! can I know Thee and not love Thee, and love Thee and not burn with desire to receive Thee on earth, and to see and possess Thee for ever in heaven. Amen.
- Right Rev. R. Challoner, D.D., V.A., Imitation of Christ, Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1873 ↩