An Inappropriate Spiritual Communion
The current Spiritual Communion being used in Irish churches during lockdown is a misleading theology and deeply unbiblical in saying “…come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there.” There is no “as if”; God is already there and has been from the moment of our conception and will be until we draw our last breath and join Him in paradise! ‘Soul’ is really just another word for the presence of God within us. Everything that lives and exists does so because God is present within them. Existence is the very presence of God.
“God made all things to this end, to (enjoy the same union) of humanity and divinity that was united in Christ.” (St. Maximus the Confessor’ 580 – 662)
Eucharist is the real presence of God but it does not make God present within us, for He is already there; it makes us more aware of His perpetual, divine, redeeming presence within us and strengthens us to respond to that real Presence in the way we live our lives and act towards others. It helps us to be evangelists for God’s unconditional love for the all peoples and for the whole of creation.
That prayer of Spiritual Communion of St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787 and founder of the Redemptorist Order) shows the danger of uncritically lifting a prayer from an earlier time and earlier development of both theology and of our understanding of Sacred Scripture and using it today.
Here are just a few of the myriad verses in the Bible that refer to the abiding presence of God within us and among us.
Matthew 28:20; “And behold, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”
1Cor 3:16; “Do you not realise that you are a temple of God, with the Spirit of God living in you?”
Galatians 2:20; “And yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me.”
1 John 4:16; “whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
Revelation 21:3; “Look, God lives among human beings.”
Joshua 1:9; “ go where you may, Yahweh your God is with you.”
Aidan Hart is now retired but formerly was a seminarian for six and a half years with the Mill Hill Missionary Society, then teacher and Head of Religious Education in three large, Catholic comprehensive schools in London, Durham and Wales. He then became Senior Inspector of Education and Training, specialising in Religious Education, Educational Management and Pastoral Care, in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI N. Ireland).