The Saint Alphonsus of 1776
The Saint Alphonsus of 2020
Saint Alphonsus di Liguori (1696-1787) lived at time when many came to identify Mass with just going to Communion. So at that time he composed a widely circulated prayer of Spiritual Communion for those who, for one reason or another, could not go to Communion. This prayer has been suggested to be used today in our present crisis. However, God has done a lot for us in the intervening years regarding our cherished celebration of the Eucharist. In our time the Lord has given us a deeper and wider understanding of the great Mystery of the Eucharist which he handed on to his Church for all ages for our spiritual growth. We need to take advantage of these heavenly gifts in the way we pray — the Church has experienced this in the revision of the Mass in our life time.
We know better now that the entire Mass from start to finish involves the many real presences of Christ, and in particular his real presence within the people of his holy assembly. So I have composed this prayer, which I prefer to call Prayer When I Cannot Participate in Mass in Person aka The Prayer for Renewing the Covenant (instead of Spiritual Communion for the reason just stated) is based on the reality of faith that the Lord’s Covenant love is behind everything he has done for us — our better knowledge of scripture has provided us with a better grasp of our faith. He gave us his Son, born into this world, who followed his Father’s will in everything and thus was sinless. Jesus so loved us that he wishes to recreate us in his image day by day so that we come to perfection in him and so enjoy the fullness of life. To this end he left us the Eucharistic memorial in its totality which we have grown to love in the midst of his faithful people. So we pray that every celebration of the Eucharistic mysteries deepen his life within us and within the whole Church, bringing together the many real presences of Christ in our lives.
I offer this prayer during these “desert days” of contemplation so that our return to these sacred mysteries will find us more deeply committed to the Covenant love of Christ, for which he gave his life, and to the increase of his life within us until we reach the fullness and abundance he has in store for us. That is the purpose of the Mass for which we long.
Through your gift of Covenant love, O Lord, you have opened our hearts to welcome your Son to dwell within us by being baptized into his Church community and enlivened and strengthen by his Holy Spirit as to what you have made us so that we can better answer your call to gather for the Eucharist. Unable to join the body of Christ at this time to celebrate the redemption of your people, we beseech your merciful love to enlarge our hearts to welcome your presence all the more and that of your Son and the Holy Spirit so that we may give you thanks always and everywhere as befits your name. Open our ears, O Lord, to your word, both spoken and lived. Through your Holy Spirit make our daily lives more in the image of your Son who is the perfect example of your eternal Covenant so that we may soon join his body, the Church, to burst forth in praise of you at the Table of the Lord, sharing his Body and Blood, and to advance with all your faithful people toward your kingdom of heaven, bound together with you and your holy ones in your one family. Make firm that unity of your Church in answer to your Son’s prayer that we be one so that the world come to know your presence here and know that you are always with us. Through Christ our risen Lord. Amen.
Saint Alphonsus approved this message because his appreciation for the Eucharistic Christ has reached perfection now in the company of saints and offers the prayer above, too, from his heavenly perspective.