This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, our “patronal feast day” in the annual calendar. When Episcopal churches are created, their name designates which day is their personal “birthday.” An example would be the feast day of a particular saint for a church named after that saint, or Christ the King Sunday for Christ Churches, etc. So for Trinity Church, it is Trinity Sunday.
One of ways in which we will be observing our patronal feast day this Sunday is by engaging in what is referred to as “Spiritual Communion.” If you read Bishop Bascom’s article in the most recent edition of the Harvest, she went into some detail about what Spiritual Communion is and how it works, but for those who did not, let me synopsize. Spiritual Communion is when the celebrant and congregation engage in the Eucharistic Prayer but do not consume the bread and the wine but instead place those elements in the tabernacle to be consumed at a later date. But, even though we do not physically ingest the bread and wine, we do receive the spiritual benefits of the sacrament, including both the act of remembering Jesus Christ’s last supper with his apostles and the spiritual connection and renewal of the communion.
Now this is for me a fairly new idea and I have spent a lot of time rolling the theology concerning it around in my head, and I have come to this simple conclusion. Suppose, hypothetically, that I visited a parishioner in the hospital who was suffering a serious medical condition and could only receive nutrients through an IV and a feeding tube. As such, he or she would be incapable of consuming bread and wine. And further suppose that when I visited this person, I brought a communion kit with me, prayed the prayers, blessed the bread and wine while present there, but did not administer them to the patient. Do we supposed that the inability of the patient to receive the physical elements of the sacrament blocks the ability of God to engage in the spiritual grace underlying the sacrament? Of course not. While not the normative practice of the sacrament, the extreme condition of the situation dictates that it must be this way.
In a similar way, we are in an extreme condition as a nation, even a world, in which we are not able to share in the physical, technical aspects of a shared table for our own health and safety. But we can engage in this manner, confident in the abundant grace from God until such time as we are able to return once more together.
May God’s grace continue to manifest itself in your own lives, and stay safe and healthy and connected to your parish family.
Yours in Christ,