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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Spiritual Communion and the Prayer of Faith

The act of faith is a powerful movement of soul, more powerful than pandemic, loneliness, suffering, fear or even death. This wholly simple movement avails not only one's intellect but also one's whole being to mysteries so great that this present life is not able to contain them. The act of faith culminates in a foretaste of splendor dawning upon us. This act remains un-circumscribed by anything that is not God. Pressing exigencies, terrifying circumstances, catastrophe, disaster, none of this limits this most primal act of the human heart. The spirit reaches out for its object—realities above and beyond itself—not in titanic struggle, not in nihilistic dreaminess, but with the simple, humble determination that only love knows. Eternity comes rushing in, in the very frailty of the present moment, whenever the heart lifts itself up to God and humbly requests His saving help. Such is the mystery that faith in Christ Jesus has opened up for the world. He bought this movement of grace at the price of his own blood. By His Passion and Death, He has opened access to the heart of the Father so that every prayer of faith offered in his Name is always heard and answered. His Cross is the threshold to the boundless love of the Holy Trinity, the meeting point of human misery and Divine Mercy, the doorway to a love stronger than death. When we ask for our own salvation (and before God, no one else can ask for us), the Father recognizes our voice because the Blood of His Son cries out to Him. The blood of Christ is so eloquent that it bears away even our sins and rushes in with such tender mercy. Because our faith is not yet perfect, we might see inadequacy, shame and unworthiness, but the Father sees in that Blood a love that is stronger than death. Struggling with doubt, we might see a game in which we secure psychological relief but not true change of heart, in that Blood the Father sees His Word by which He made Heaven and Earth. By that Blood, doubt no more and do not be distracted by what you suppose is beyond God's power to heal, for your trust in Him gives Him the space He needs to make you whole. In His Son and what He suffered for us, the Father chose to suffer our misery with us, including our own sin, so that we would not suffer alone, and out of this suffering, the power of His love in the blood of His Son rescues our dignity and gives us life, even as we struggle for life's breath. The fact is, before we offer our act of faith, Jesus, the Word of the Father, has already taken our side and the Risen One has poured out the blood that enables us to call to Him. He whose life now belongs to us is not indifferent to our plight, but ready in the twinkling of an eye to come to our aid. So it has been from the first moment of our lives and is now in this pandemic. Though we treated him as an enemy, He has chosen to be our neighbor. Where others pass us by, he stoops down, baths our wounds and carries us to shelter. Though we have treasured Him so little, He sees in us a treasure buried in a field, a pearl, a lost coin, a lost sheep—and He has turned the world upside down to find us. We are His beloved Bride, and to render us pure and immaculate, He has held nothing back but handed Himself over to humiliation and scorn. We are His Father's vineyard, and what abuse He suffered so that the Father might lay claim to us. In the Name of the Father who loves us, He watches for our coming from a long way off and the moment we come to our senses, turn around and start on the way home, He who longs for our return runs to us. He clothes us in robes, rings and shoes, and leads us where we belong. In our plight, we see that we are not worthy to be his servant, but He calls us sons and daughters. If we will only seek those tear filled eyes that so tenderly gaze on us, we would know in a single glance that what most defines our existence is not our betrayal of love, but the deeper reality that God's love for us is irrevocable—and whether we accept it or reject it forever, nothing has the power to change that—for He is unchangeable. The access that Christ has opened to the heart of the Father through our faith in Him makes possible what Christian tradition calls spiritual communion—a heart to heart with God, an unfolding of that the very same grace he offered the night before His death, an encounter with what Christ did on the Cross that even in this moment can begin to fill our hearts. To receive this grace, all one needs to do is ask with faith and perseverance. Think of it! The greatest work that God can accomplish in humanity is only a prayer away, a treasure is ours for the asking. Suddenly, we are not alone no matter how cut-off we are from our friends and family. Heaven surrounds us and we breathe the air of our true homeland. This immense and majestic silence echoes with the hymns and canticles of myriads and myriads of angels and saints gathered around the throne of the Lamb. The glory, the splendor, the beauty can cause us to ache with such joy and sorrow all at once, and something is given that fills every moment of our life, from birth to the present, with new meaning. God's City of Peace descends and the misery of the moment is pregnant with love's intensity. All at once, no matter what our poverty or dire circumstance, we have everything that matters. By this most humble prayer of faith, we open the door to a banquet hall and discover that we are the guests of honor. In the valley of death, as fear rises up on every side, He guides us and helps us refresh our weary hearts if we will but bow our heads and fold our hands. We feast on the Bread of Life in the face of our enemies if we will only ask the Source of Living Waters to give us a drink. And he pours a cup of joy so wonderful that no matter what might befall us, we will live in the house of the Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

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