Chapter VII. Of our Comportment in and after our Receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Section III. An Advice concerning him who only communicates spiritually.
THERE are many persons well disposed by the measures of a holy life to communicate frequently; but it may happen that they are unavoidably hindered. Some have a timorous conscience, a fear, a pious tear,--which is indeed, sometimes, more pitiable than commendable. Others are advised by their spiritual guides to abstain for a time, that they may proceed in the virtue of repentance further yet, before they partake of the sacrament of love: and yet if they should want the blessings and graces of the communion, the remedy which is intended them would be a real impediment. Some are scandalized and offended at irremediable miscarriages in public doctrines or government, and cannot readily overcome their prejudices, nor reconcile their consciences to a present actual communion. Some dare not receive it at the hands of a wicked priest of notorious evil life. Some can have it from no priest at all, but are in a long journey, or under a persecution, or in a country of a differing persuasion. Some are sick; and some cannot have it every day, but every day desire it.
Such persons as these, if they prepare themselves with all the essential and ornamental measures of address, and earnestly desire that they could actually communicate, they may place themselves upon their knees,--and building an altar in their heart, celebrate the death of Christ, and, in holy desire, join with all the congregations of the Christian world, who that day celebrate the holy communion; and may serve their devotion by the former prayers and actions eucharistical, changing only such circumstantial words which relate to the actual participation: and then they may remember and make use of the comfortable doctrine of St. Austin; "It is one thing (saith that learned saint [Serm. 11. de verbis Domini.) to be born of the Spirit,--and another thing, to be fed of the Spirit: as it is one thing to be born of the flesh, which is when we are born of our mother; another thing, to be fed of the flesh,--which is done, when she suckles her infant by that nourishment, which is changed into food that he might eat and drink with pleasure, by which he was born to life; when this is done without the actual and sacramental participation, it is called spiritual manducation." Concerning which I only add the pious advice of a religious person: "Let every faithful soul be ready and desirous often to receive the holy eucharist to the glory of God; but if he cannot so often communicate sacramentally as he desires, let him not be afflicted, but remain in perfect resignation to the will of God, and dispose himself to a spiritual communion: for no man and no thing can hinder a well disposed soul, but that by holy desires she may, if she please, communicate every day." [Bles. in reg. Tyron. Spirit, sect. 4, n. 3.]
To this nothing is necessary to be added, but that this way is to be used never but upon just necessity, and when it cannot be actual, not upon peevishness and spiritual pride; not in the spirit of schism and fond opinions; not in despite of our brother, and contempt or condemnation of the holy congregations of the Lord; but with a living faith, and an actual charity, and great humility, and with the spirit of devotion; and that so much the more intensely and fervently, by how much he is really troubled for the want of actual participation in the communion of saints; and then that is true, which St. Austin c said, "Crede, et manducasti:" "Believe, and thou hast eaten."--Adora Jesum. [Tract 25 & 26 in Johan.]