Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Thanksgiving After Communion

"There is no prayer more agreeable to God, or mor profitable to the soul, than that which is made during the thanksgiving after Communion. It is the opinion of many grave writers (Suarez, Cajetan, Valentia, De Lugo, and others), that the Holy Communion, so long as the sacramental species lasts, constantly produces greater and greater graces in the soul, provided the soul is then constant in disposing itself by new acts of virtue. The Council of Florence, in the decree of Eugenius IV to the Armenians, teaches that the Blessed Sacrament produces the same effect in the soul as material food, which, when it enters the body, takes effect according to the state in which it finds it.

For this reason, holy souls endeavor to remain as long as possible in prayer after Communion. The Venerable Father Avila, even when he was given his missions, used to remain for at least two hours in prayer. Father Balthasar Alvarez used to say, that we should set great value on the time after Communion, imagining that we hear from the lips of Jesus Christ himself the words that he addressed to his disciples: But Me you have not always with you."

I came across this passage in The Holy Eucharist by St. Alphonsus de Liguori earlier today and I thought it served as a good reminder to take the time to thank Jesus for the gift of Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, particularly after having received Him in this most precious sacrament at Mass. I know that few of us have as much as two hours to spend in thanksgiving, but we could all spare a few minutes at the end of Mass.

This passage reminds me of a story one of my Theology professors told me. . . small 't' tradition has it that there was a man who used to frequently attend Mass when St. Alphonsus de Liguori was celebrating yet this particular man would always leave immediately after having received the Blessed Sacrament and before the end of Mass. One day St. Alphonsus gave special instructions to his altar servers before Mass began. When the man, as usual, went to leave the Church after having received the Eucharist two altar servers quietly picked up their candles and followed him out of the church and walked alongside him with their lit candles as he made his way down the street. St. Alphonsus did this to remind the man that Christ was still present with him in the Blessed Sacrament he had just consumed.