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On spiritual communion

Throughout many centuries of ups and downs in sacramental practice, [spiritual communion] was a valuable approach to fellowship with the living Lord. It deserves to be rediscovered.

Certainly, the problem of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried should not and cannot be solved by stressing it; anyway this very complex drama cannot be ended by a quick verbal skirmish. Yet by no means can “spiritual communion” be ruled out for those members of the lay faithful who are canonically impeded from receiving the sacraments yet long for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. In pastoral practice, too, our memory is short. As recently as 1947, the encyclical on the liturgy, Mediator Dei by Pope Pius XII, contains the exhortation: “[The Church] wishes in the first place that Christians – especially when they cannot receive holy communion – should do so at least by desire.” – from “Without Rupture or Discontinuity” in Eleven Cardinals Speak