Imagine meeting and talking with the head of a country, a member of the British Royal family, your all-time favorite celebrity, a long admired sports figure or a cherished loved one. You would certainly give them your full attention, right? You’d want to spend time with them, would be excited to meet them and certainly not walk out on them or busy your mind with other things in their presence. Now think of meeting and communing with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Author of Life, the Master of the Universe and the Savior of mankind! Here we must reflect and ask ourselves, “When I receive Christ in the Eucharist, do I give him my full attention? Do I sincerely desire to spend time with him? Do I desire to get to know him better? Do I give gratitude to him for all he has given me? Do I speak to him as a friend? Do I honor, worship and adore him? Admittedly, there have been times in my life when I have received Holy Communion and shortly after my knees hit the kneeler my mind has wandered off. I had missed out on the most sublime moments of encountering Christ when Jesus is truly present – body, blood, soul and divinity within me.
As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve become more acutely aware of the precious time that exists after receiving Christ – moments which even the Holy Angels cannot partake. St. Maximilian Kolbe once said, “If Angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason – Holy Communion.” In our humanity – it may be that from time to time our mind may wander after receiving communion. But let us be particularly mindful in trying to develop a discipline of focus in the moments after receiving Our Lord in savoring this sublime time when he is closest to us. In her diary Divine Mercy in My Soul, Saint Faustina Kowalska said she received a private revelation from Jesus who told her, “Oh how painful it is to Me that souls so seldom unite themselves to me in Holy Communion. I wait for souls, and they are indifferent toward me. They treat me as a dead object, whereas My heart is full of love and mercy” (Diary 1447). In another private revelation to St. Faustina from her Diary, Jesus said “Know, my daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things” (Diary 1385).
Saint Alphonsus Liguori once wrote that “there is no prayer more dear to God than that which is made after communion – because it is then that we are animated by the presence of Jesus Christ, who is united to our souls.”
St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, similarly urged her daughters not to rush out after Mass but to instead treasure the opportunity for thanksgiving saying, “Let us detain ourselves lovingly with Jesus for during communion Jesus remains in the soul as on a throne of grace and says to the soul, ‘What do you want that I should do to you?’ As if saying: O Christian soul, I have come for the express purpose of giving you my graces. Ask what you wish and you shall obtain it.”
St. Magdalena de Pazzi said, “The minutes that follow Communion are the most precious we have in our lives.” And St. Josemaria Escriva preached, “Imagine, the Word made flesh has come to us as our food! Inside us, inside our littleness, lies the Creator of heaven and earth!” St. Escriva went on to say, “surely you have nothing so important that you cannot give Our Lord 10 minutes to say thanks. Love is repaid with love.”
Over the years, I’ve made it a habit not to rush into the parking lot right after Mass. After the final blessing, I instead remain in Church praying before the Tabernacle for a time or visit the Adoration Chapel where I spend additional prayer time. For me, this time has become the richest prayer time of my life. It is a time to adore him, to thank him, to ask for needed graces and help, a time for a true heart to heart talk. Often I will also recite prayers for after communion – one of my favorites is the Anima Christi. As long as we are free from mortal sin, which thankfully can be absolved in confession, we can approach Our Lord with confidence. As much as possible, open your heart to the Lord. Confide in Him as you would a close friend. If, for some reason, you are unable to physically receive Christ in the Eucharist, make an act of deep spiritual communion with him. St. Teresa of Avila wrote that “there is no other time than thanksgiving after Mass when we can so easily enrich our souls with virtues, or so rapidly advance to a high degree of perfection”. St. John Chrysostom also said, “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.” Therefore, if you are not doing so already, why not commit to spending some time after Mass making the most of this intimate time with Our Lord. As a privileged guest at the heavenly banquet – do you really wish to rush out the door?
Image credit: shutterstock.com