Though public Holy Week and Easter celebrations look different this year in the Diocese of Trenton – and across the world – the faithful are being urged to remember “that the underlying mysteries of our faith in the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection have not changed.”

“They continue to be the source and support of our faith, and we should celebrate them this year, even though in a different way,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., wrote in a pastoral letter to his flock.

He encouraged all to follow Masses and liturgical celebrations online or on television and to pick up their Bibles or follow liturgical Readings in missals or on the internet. And of course to pray, through devotions such as the Rosary, Stations of the Cross or other traditional prayers. 

“Make a spiritual communion at home or wherever you may be,” Bishop O’Connell said. “The great saints in our Church’s history followed that practice. Keep your faith and prayer life alive until things in our public practice of the faith is restored.”

That message was also conveyed by priests across the Diocese, as they reminded their parishioners that they are being remembered in prayer – and urged their flocks to continue to pray for others, too.

“Our Bishop has asked that we make a spiritual communion often until we can once again worship as a community of faith,” Father Edward Blanchett, pastor in Visitation Parish, Brick, preached in his homily on the Fourth Sunday of Lent. “So together … just as we heard about the man born blind, we might have an opportunity to have our spiritual eyes opened, maybe for the first time in our lives.”

“A spiritual communion that is worthily made can actually open us up to more graces and bring us closer to Jesus and his father than a physical communion that is received casually,” he added.

Msgr. Kenard Tuzeneu, pastor in St. Mary Parish, Barnegat, reminded his parishioners that when he celebrates his private Mass each day, “I am praying for you.”

“When I elevate the host, I turn 360 degrees, asking God to bless and protect all those in the parish and beyond,” he said. “So really, it’s a sense of being with and praying for everybody.”

Bishop O’Connell issued a call to prayer, saying an act of spiritual communion is proposed in this temporary time of being unable to receive the Eucharist:

“My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. 

“Since I cannot at this moment 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.”