Feb 15, 2015

Sunday Sermon, February 15 - The reception of Holy Communion (Sermons on the Mass, part 5 of 5)

We conclude our five part series on the Mass with a homily on the devout reception of holy Communion.

This means not only preparing for Mass and being reverent during Mass (especially when receiving the Eucharist), but also taking time to pray after Mass.

Below the audio recording, please see a bulletin insert distributed at Masses this weekend with reflections on making a prayer of thanksgiving for at least 10 minutes after Mass.

Listen online [here]!


Father's Corner -- Thanksgiving Prayer after Mass

St. John Chrysostom: "When we have received the precious Body of Jesus Christ, we should take care not to lose its heavenly flavor by turning too soon to the cares and business of the world."

St. Alphonsus: "There is no prayer more agreeable to God, or more profitable to the soul than that which is made during the thanksgiving after Communion."

From the Baltimore Catechism: "After Holy Communion we should spend some time in adoring Our Lord, in thanking Him for the grace we have received, and in asking Him for the blessings we need."

This is still the teaching, even after Vatican II! Pope St. John Paul II: "The faithful are to be recommended not to omit to make a proper thanksgiving after Communion. They may do this during the Mass ... also after the Mass, if possible, by staying behind to pray for a suitable time."


Remember that the Eucharist stays the Eucharist even after we receive Communion, until the Host is dissolved in our stomach. Therefore, even after Mass, Jesus is still really and truly present in our bodies for about 10 minutes. We are literally walking tabernacles! This is the basis of our thanksgiving.

St. Theresa of Avila says we should pray for one hour after Mass. This is almost universal among all the saints.

However, St. Alphonsus states that, because of a great necessity, the thanksgiving can be shortened to 30 minutes, but never should be less than 15 minutes. St. Josemaria Escriva allows for a minimum of 10 minutes of prayer after Mass.  This is the shortest that any saint has ever permitted.

Remember that Padre Pio received his miraculous Stigmata (the wounds of the Crucified Jesus in his hands, feet, and side) during his thanksgiving after Mass. There is no other time in which we are so perfectly conformed to Christ!


There is no set formula for our prayer after Mass. Some will find it helpful to recite memorized prayers (especially at first), as these help to focus the mind for the period of silence -- I would recommend a portion of the Rosary or of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. We don't need to finish the whole Rosary or Chaplet (or other prayers). The purpose of the thanksgiving isn't to "get something done," but to "spend time" with Jesus -- slowly praying the Rosary or Chaplet for a few minutes is an easy way to start having this special time with God who is present in us through Communion.

Another way of praying after Mass, especially during Lent, is to go through a portion of the Stations of the Cross, with or without a book to follow. We can simply recall some of the scenes from the Stations and spend a few minutes telling Jesus how much we love him. This same practice can be used with the mysteries of the Rosary.

Again, we could simply rest with the Lord and imagine that our soul is the stable/cave of Bethlehem and that the Host is the Baby Jesus. We can ask Mary to hold Him and love Him for us. And we are overjoyed when she puts her beautiful Child into our arms so that we may kiss Him!

The Holy Spirit Himself will enlighten each of us if only we don't give up but simply keep trying our best to make a good prayer of thanksgiving after Mass!


Since the Canon Law of the Church demands that the priest make a thanksgiving after Mass, and since all the saints recommend this for all the people, we at Corpus Christi will begin to provide the opportunity for a thanksgiving prayer. Immediately after the Mass, Father will kneel at the side for a period of thanksgiving. All are invited to kneel and join him in silent prayer which will start at only about 2 minutes and will gradually be extended to about 10 minutes. Father will conclude this prayer time with the common recitation of the thanksgiving prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas (which is in the back of the music book).

I really do want to greet everyone after Mass! It is one of my favorite moments of the week! But we don't need to choose either the thanksgiving prayer or socializing after Mass! We can do both! So, as soon as the common thanksgiving prayer is done, Father will go to the back of the Church to greet everyone. Please stay the extra couple minutes for prayer and for at least a brief "hello" after the Mass! To me, greeting all of you is worth waiting an extra couple of minutes, is the community life of our parish worth an extra couple minutes' wait to you?