December 3, 2017
1st Sunday of Advent
“May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘ Watch!’”
Thanksgiving (part 2) – Continued from last week…
Thus, the Eucharistic Prayer is the great prayer of thanks that we give to the Father. It is said aloud by the priest, but all the faithful should join in the act of offering thanks by uniting their hearts to the words of the priest.
Immediately after the Eucharistic Prayer, we receive Communion, and following Communion we have a wonderful moment of personal prayer with the Lord. Unfortunately, I think the Church has done a poor job of helping people understand how to fruitfully use this time after Communion. Many people simply find themselves watching everyone else go up to receive Communion, and then watching the priest as he purifies the sacred vessels and finally goes to sit down.
I want to encourage you to foster a more fruitful time of prayer during this part of the Mass. To do that, I recommend you close your eyes after you return to your pew from receiving Communion, or to look up at the crucifix, and to talk to the Lord in the depth of your heart, thanking Him for the great Mystery of Faith you just received.
To help begin to foster this time of prayer after Communion, I’ve decided that during Advent we will be having a special time of thanksgiving after the sacred vessels are purified. I will not go to my chair as usual, but instead will kneel before the altar. We will then sing a beautiful meditative song of Thanksgiving to the Lord. I hope you are able to use this time to truly encounter the Lord who we have just received sacramentally into our very bodies!
Finally, as I conclude this reflection on giving thanks during the Mass, I want to emphasis that it is also important that we take a moment once Mass has ended to offer thanksgiving to God. Our encounter with God at Mass is the most solemn and truly awesome (full-of-awe) moment that we can possibly have with God at any point during our day. Even if we don’t feel the most uplifted on a particular Sunday, the reality is that we cannot be closer to Jesus than when we receive the Sacraments.
This is why it is important for us to pause after Mass to give thanks before we head home. After the closing song, I encourage you to simply knee down, close your eyes, and pray for a short time before you leave. Give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist, and ask the Lord to help you as you go home to live a good and holy life.
In fact, this giving thanks after Mass is so important that the Church actually makes it mandatory for priests. The Code of Canon Law says, “A priest is not to omit dutifully to prepare himself by prayer before the celebration of the Eucharist, nor afterwards to omit to make thanksgiving to God” (canon 909). Thus, although the laity are not included in the mandate of this canon, nevertheless, we can understand that if it is essential for the priest to pause and give thanks, it is likewise important for the laity to do so as well.
You are in my daily prayers, just as St. Paul says, “I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Eph 1:16).
God bless you,