An Act of Spiritual Communion

Spiritual Communion is a devotional practice with deep roots in the tradition. It has been described as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received him.” This definition has been variously attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus Liguori. But while the exact origin of that summary is in question, it remains accurate.

Within Anglicanism there is a venerable tradition of emphasizing the practice of Spiritual Communion as a devotional aid. The great Caroline Divine Jeremy Taylor wrote of it in the dedication of his Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying. He writes that a person “does certainly belong to God, who” among other things, “takes all opportunities to remember Christ’s death by a frequent sacrament (as it can be had) or else by inward acts of understanding, will, and memory (which is the spiritual communion,) supplies the want of the external rite.”

In the Episcopal Church, the Armed Forces Prayer Book of 1951 (used in the Korean War) and the subsequent Prayer Book for the Armed Forces used today, have contained a rite of Spiritual Communion.

Below is a simple outline of the act, as well as links to more detailed versions with the Sunday Readings embedded for the Sundays of Lent and Easter. We pray this will be a useful resource to members of the Diocese of Tennessee.

Blessed be God, ✙ Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.

Let the power of the Holy Spirit come upon me, O Lord, to mercifully cleanse my heart and defend me from all adversities; through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The Epistle: Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door I will come in to you and eat with you and you with me. 

The Psalm: Psalm 23:5-6

You prepare a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over. Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in thee house of the Lord for ever.

The Gospel: John 15:5

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me, you can do nothing. 

Act of Contrition

In your own words, pray for your own needs, for those on your heart, for the peace of the world, and for the Church.

After offering these prayers, continue with:

O God, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you and for all the wrongs I have done and the good I have not done. Forgive me for Jesus’ sake, and grant me strength and wisdom to amend my life. Amen. 

Act of Reception

In union, blessed Jesus, with the faithful gathered at every altar of your Church where your blessed Body and Blood are offered this day, (and remembering particularly my own parish and those worshipping there) I long to offer 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.

And particularly for the blessings given me…

I believe that you are truly present in the Holy Sacrament, and, since I cannot at this time receive communion, I pray you to come into my heart, my soul, and my mind. Let nothing separate me from you; let me serve you in this life until, by your grace, I come to your glorious kingdom and unending peace. Amen. 

Our Father…

Come Lord Jesus, and dwell in my heart in the fullness of your strength; be my wisdom and guide me in right pathways; conform my life and actions to the image of your holiness; and, in the power of your gracious might, rule over every hostile power that threatens or disturbs the growth of your kingdom, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep my heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ my Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father,✙ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with me now and always. Amen. 

Spiritual Communion is excerpted from Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book. Permission is given to reproduce this text for use in local worshiping communities. © 2014 Forward Movement