By Fr. Gerard Jonas
15 June 2020
I remember, for my First Communion, my mother, Inay Luz, gifted me with a picture-booklet on St. Tarcisius, the brave 12-year old martyr for the Bread of Life, Jesus. In 3rd century Rome, Christians were persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. The young altar boy Tarcisius knew how much the Holy Eucharist nourished the faithful, so that one day, he volunteered for the risky task to bring the Body of Christ to those in prison, confident that his youthfulness was the best protection for the Body of Christ.
In this Covid-19 pandemic, we may experience the challenges our early Christian sisters and brothers faced in coming together to partake of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We are luckier nowadays for with technology we can come together virtually. But the Lord God can go even beyond the virtual. We feel our deep spiritual need for nourishment. We feel our own deep hunger for Christ. That’s good. We need to feed our spirit as we need to feed our body to keep alive. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we owe it to ourselves to stay spiritually fit and healthy. We owe it also to our sisters and brothers in Christ, for as St Paul says, “We are like different parts of the same body.” If one part is unwell, the whole body suffers. Some parts, some individuals may have a more direct responsibility to keep the whole body well. Christ the head, does his part of providing us nourishment. Jesus did not only incarnate to bring us salvation through his suffering, death, and resurrection. He continues to avail of himself as the ever-accessible Bread of Life that nourishes and nurtures. We only need to come to partake. If not sacramentally possible, many saints have promoted Spiritual Communion.
Many saints practiced it throughout the day like San Padre Pio. St. Thomas Aquinas once defined Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him.” St. Jean-Marie Vianney once said, “When we feel the love of God growing cold, let us instantly make a Spiritual Communion… No wall can shut us out from the good God.” Another is St Alphonsus Ligouri, who propagated it with this prayer:
“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.”
This coronavirus cannot keep us from Jesus, the Bread of Life. And like the young St Tarcisius, we are tasked to bring Christ to others the way we look at others to bring us Christ.
Jesus, the Bread of Life, is always available to each and every one of us. And so finally, pray with me,
“Lord, grant that all my encounters with others be for me and them encounters with you. Amen.”
Fr. Jonas was invited to his home archdiocese’s virtual reflection concert for the Feast of Corpus Christi this past weekend. He recorded a song, Fr. Chrsysogonus’ “Bread of Life.” Here is a recording of that song: