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THE HOME PAGE

THE THANKSGIVING
AFTER RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION
IN THE TEACHING OF CHURCH FATHERS,
POPES OF XX CENTURY
AND SAINTS

dr Wojciech Kosek

The present elaboration was published here in 2006.
The English version was published in Jun 16, 2010, just after the end of the Year of Priests.

I also invite You to read:

The table of contents:

  1. Teaching of Church Fathers about the adoration after Holy Communion and after Holy Mass
    1. The Lord’s Instruction to the Gentiles Through the Twelve Apostles (Didache), 9 n (I / II century)
    2. The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (IV century)
    3. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386), Mystagogical catechesis, 5 (22–23)
    4. St. John Chrysostom (+ 407), Homily “In diem natalem”, 7
    5. St. John Chrysostom (+ 407), The homily on the Epiphany, 4
    6. St. John Chrysostom (+ 407), Homilies on First Corinthians, 27
  2. Teaching of Popes and Bishops about the adoration after Holy Communion and after Holy Mass
    1. Decretal of St. Congregation of the Council, “Sacra Tridentina Synodus” about quotidian Holy Communion (ASS 38/1906, 400–404), December 20, 1905.
    2. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter “Mediator Dei”. On the Sacred Liturgy, November 20, 1947.
    3. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter “Mysterium Fidei” (Mystery of Faith), September 3, 1965. In the matter of doctrine of Holy Eucharist and of its cultus.
    4. John Paul II, Letter “Dominicae Cenae”. To All The Bishops Of The Church On The Mystery And Worship Of The Eucharist, February 24, 1980.
    5. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction “Eucharisticum Mysterium”. On Eucharistic Worship, May 25, 1967.
    6. Congregation for the Clergy, The priest and the third Christian millennium teacher of the word, minister of the sacraments and leader of the community, March 19, 1999.
    7. Statements of bishops in diocesan papers
  3. Statements of the Saints about adoration after Holy Communion and after Holy Mass
    1. St. Alphonse Maria de Liguori, blessed John from Avila, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, St. Theresa
    2. St. Eugene de Mazenod, founder of Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  4. Links to other Websites about adoration after Holy Communion and after Holy Mass

1. TEACHING OF CHURCH FATHERS ABOUT THE ADORATION AFTER HOLY COMMUNION AND AFTER HOLY MASS

Second Vatican Council renewed our Christian life, among others, through the renovation of the liturgy and, in this, the Missal, i.e. a book which is used by priests during the celebrating of Holy Mass. In the renewed Missal is found a significant text, which informs us about the meaning of the teaching of Church Fathers for this work of renovation:

“Moreover, continuing progress in the study of the holy Fathers has also shed light upon the theology of the mystery of the Eucharist through the teachings of such illustrious Fathers of Christian antiquity as Saint Irenaeus, Saint Ambrose, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, and Saint John Chrysostom” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 8, in: Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition, 2002. – see GIRM on the Internet)

Below are published fragments of homilies of Church Fathers, speaking about the thanksgiving after Holy Mass and Holy Communion

Almost every of these statements is taken from the Internet, so at every such fragment there is given a link to the webside where it can be find on the Internet.

1. The Lord’s Instruction to the Gentiles Through the Twelve Apostles (Didache), 9 n (I / II century): (return)

( here is the link to whole text of “Didache” on the Internet )

9. At the Eucharist, offer the eucharistic prayer in this way […]

No one is to eat or drink of your Eucharist but those who have been baptized in the Name of the Lord…

10. When all have partaken sufficiently, give thanks in these words […]

Prophets, however, should be free to give thanks as they please.

The Greek text of the last sentence is:

10,7: τοις δε προφηταις επιτρεπετε ευχαριστειν οσα θελουσιν

2. The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (IV century): (return)

(XIII) […] And after that, let the bishop partake, then the presbyters, and deacons, and sub–deacons, and the readers, and the singers, and the ascetics; and then of the women, the deaconesses, and the virgins, and the widows; then the children; and then all the people in order, with reverence and godly fear, without tumult. And let the bishop give the oblation, saying, The body of Christ; and let him that receiveth say, Amen. And let the deacon take the cup; and when he gives it, say, The blood of Christ, the cup of life; and let him that drinketh say, Amen. And let the thirty–third psalm be said, while the rest are partaking; and when all, both men and women, have partaken, let the deacons carry what remains into the vestry. And when the singer has done, let the deacon say:

(The Bidding Prayer After the Participation)

(XIV) Now we have received the precious body and the precious blood of Christ, let us give thanks to Him who has thought us worthy to partake of these His holy mysteries; and let us beseech Him that it may not be to us for condemnation, but for salvation, to the advantage of soul and body, to the preservation of piety, to the remission of sins, and to the life of the world to come. Let us arise, and by the grace of Christ let us dedicate ourselves to God, to the only unbegotten God, and to His Christ.

And let the bishop give thanks.

3. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386), Mystagogical catechesis, 5 (22–23): (return)

(here is the link to whole text of “Mystagogical catechesis” on the Internet; see also: Biblia Clerus online)

22. Then after thou hast partaken of the Body of Christ, draw near also to the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth thine hands, but bending, and saying with an air of worship and reverence, Amen […]. Then wait for the prayer, and give thanks unto God, who hath accounted thee worthy of so great mysteries [53].

23. Hold fast these traditions undefiled and, keep yourselves free from offence. Sever not yourselves from the Communion; deprive not yourselves, through the pollution of sins, of these Holy and Spiritual Mysteries.


[53] In the Liturgy of St. James, after all have communicated, “The Deacons and the People say: Fill our mouths with Thy praise, O Lord, and fill our lips with joy, that we may sing of Thy glory, of Thy greatness, all the day. And again: We render thanks to Thee, Christ our God, that Thou hast accounted us worthy to partake of Thy Body and Blood, &c.”

4. St. John Chrysostom (+ 407), Homily “In diem natalem”, 7: (return)

Approach with fear and trembling, with fasting and prayer, not making an uproar, hustling and jostling one another: consider, O man, what kind of sacrifice you are about to handle; consider that you, who are dust and ashes, do receive the body and blood of Christ (… )

Having cleaned our own conscience before, let us come near to it with the concentration and modesty. We approach now to King of Heaven! And when we have already received that Holy and Immaculate Sacrificial Food, let us kiss Him with honour and embrace Him with full of love, and let us burn our hearts, so that we accede not to the court and condemnation but to Him, who helps us to achieve the redemption of the soul, love and virtue, the reconciliation with God and the durable peace, the participation in innumerable goods; so that we may sanctify ourselves and edify our neighbours.

5. St. John Chrysostom (+ 407), The homily on the Epiphany, 4: (return)

If you want, I can show you, in whose footsteps follow those who leave before the end of the Holy Banquet and do not pray thanksgivings after it. I must say something which may be unpleasant for you to hear, but I have to do so because of the negligence arising in the behavior of many of you. Judas walked away and went out just after the participation in the Last Supper in that night, when all of them were still seated at the table. He is imitated by those who go out before the last thanksgiving. If he had not went out, he would not have committed treason; if he had not left table companions, he would not have been killed; if he had not found himself outside the sheep–fold, the wolf would not devour him; if he had not walk away from the Shepherd, he would not become the prey of wild beasts. Judas went to Jews earlier, whereas apostles together with the Lord left after singing the psalms. You see, that what happened then, it happens every time here at the last prayer of the Holy Sacrifice.

Now let us think about this, let us consider this for fear of punishment. Christ gives you His own Body, but you do not want to express Him your gratitude with any words? Don’t you thank Him for what you have received? When you ate the usual food, having got up from the table you pray thanksgiving, but when the spiritual food is given to you which much surpasses all visible and invisible creations, though you are a man that is a poor creature, you don’t want to express Him your gratitude with any words and act? It deserves a heavy penalty.

6. St. John Chrysostom (+ 407), Homilies on First Corinthians, 27: (return)

( here is the link to whole text of “ Homily XXVII. – 1Co 11,17” on the Internet; see also: Biblia Clerus online )

[7.] And yet if thou hast by chance made thy morning meal on any thing good, thou keepest thyself lest by any other unsavory viand thou spoil the taste of the former: and now that thou hast been feasting on the Spirit thou bringest in a satanical luxury. Consider, when the Apostles partook of that holy Supper, what they did: did they not betake themselves to prayers and singing of hymns? to sacred vigils? to that long work of teaching, so full of all self–denial? For then He related and delivered to them those great and wonderful things, when Judas had gone out to call them who were about to crucify Him. Hast thou not heard how the three thousand also who partook of the Communion continued even in prayer and teaching, not in drunken feasts and revellings? But thou before thou hast partaken fastest, that in a certain way thou mayest appear worthy of the Communion: but when thou hast partaken, and thou oughtest to increase thy temperance, thou undoest all. And yet surely it is not the same to fast before this and after it. Since although it is our duty to be temperate at both times, yet most particularly after we have received the Bridegroom. Before, that thou mayest become worthy of receiving: after, that thou mayest not be found unworthy of what thou hast received.

2. TEACHING OF POPES AND BISHOPS ABOUT THE ADORATION AFTER HOLY COMMUNION AND AFTER HOLY MASS

Remarkably important utterances of the Apostolic See on the subject, considered in our common meditation, were placed below. These enunciations will permit us to strengthen our belief that God wants us to make this personal decision: after the Mass I will remain in closest familiarity on the thankful conversation with Lord Jesus Christ; I will exhort the other persons to do the same.

Almost every of these statements is taken from the Internet, so at every such fragment there is given a link to the webside where it can be find on the Internet.

1. Decretal of St. Congregation of the Council, “Sacra Tridentina Synodus” about quotidian Holy Communion (ASS 38/1906, 400–404), December 20, 1905.(return)

One ought to strive for Holy Communion is preceded by the diligent preparation and followed by the thanksgiving, suitable to dignity of this Sacrament, in compliance with vigor, status and conditions of the receiving person.

2. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter “Mediator Dei” November 20, 1947 On the Sacred Liturgy(return)

( here is the link to whole Encyclical Letter on the Internet )

123. When the Mass, which is subject to special rules of the liturgy, is over, the person who has received holy communion is not thereby freed from his duty of thanksgiving; rather, it is most becoming that, when the Mass is finished, the person who has received the Eucharist should recollect himself, and in intimate union with the divine Master hold loving and fruitful converse with Him. Hence they have departed from the straight way of truth, who, adhering to the letter rather than the sense, assert and teach that, when Mass has ended, no such thanksgiving should be added, not only because the Mass is itself a thanksgiving, but also because this pertains to a private and personal act of piety and not to the good of the community.

124. But, on the contrary, the very nature of the sacrament demands that its reception should produce rich fruits of Christian sanctity. Admittedly the congregation has been officially dismissed, but each individual, since he is united with Christ, should not interrupt the hymn of praise in his own soul, «always returning thanks for all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.» [Eph. 5:20.] The sacred liturgy of the Mass also exhorts us to do this when it bids us pray in these words, «Grant, we beseech thee, that we may always continue to offer thanks [Roman Missal, Postcommunion for Sunday within the Octave of Ascension.]… and may never cease from praising thee.» [Roman Missal, Postcommunion for First Sunday after Pentecost.] Wherefore, if there is no time when we must not offer God thanks, and if we must never cease from praising Him, who would dare to reprehend or find fault with the Church, because she advises her priests [Code of Canon Law, can. 810.] and faithful to converse with the divine Redeemer for at least a short while after holy communion, and inserts in her liturgical books, fitting prayers, enriched with indulgences, by which the sacred ministers may make suitable preparation before Mass and holy communion or may return thanks afterwards? So far is the sacred liturgy from restricting the interior devotion of individual Christians, that it actually fosters and promotes it so that they may be rendered like to Jesus Christ and through Him be brought to the heavenly Father; wherefore this same discipline of the liturgy demands that whoever has partaken of the sacrifice of the altar should return fitting thanks to God. For it is the good pleasure of the divine Redeemer to hearken to us when we pray, to converse with us intimately and to offer us a refuge in His loving Heart.

125. Moreover, such personal colloquies are very necessary that we may all enjoy more fully the supernatural treasures that are contained in the Eucharist and according to our means, share them with others, so that Christ our Lord may exert the greatest possible influence on the souls of all.

126. Why then, Venerable Brethren, should we not approve of those who, when they receive holy communion, remain on in closest familiarity with their divine Redeemer even after the congregation has been officially dismissed, and that not only for the consolation of conversing with Him, but also to render Him due thanks and praise and especially to ask help to defend their souls against anything that may lessen the efficacy of the sacrament and to do everything in their power to cooperate with the action of Christ who is so intimately present. We exhort them to do so in a special manner by carrying out their resolutions, by exercising the Christian virtues, as also by applying to their own necessities the riches they have received with royal Liberality. The author of that golden book «The Imitation of Christ» certainly speaks in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the liturgy, when he gives the following advice to the person who approaches the altar, «Remain on in secret and take delight in your God; for He is yours whom the whole world cannot take away from you.» [Book IV, c. 12.]

127. Therefore, let us all enter into closest union with Christ and strive to lose ourselves, as it were, in His most holy soul and so be united to Him that we may have a share in those acts with which He adores the Blessed Trinity with a homage that is most acceptable, and by which He offers to the eternal Father supreme praise and thanks which find an harmonious echo throughout the heavens and the earth, according to the words of the prophet, «All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord.» [Dan. 3:57.] Finally, in union with these sentiments of Christ, let us ask for heavenly aid at that moment in which it is supremely fitting to pray for and obtain help in His name. [Cf. John 16: 3.] For it is especially in virtue of these sentiments that we offer and immolate ourselves as a victim, saying, «make of us thy eternal offering.» [Roman Missal, Secret for Mass of the Most Blessed Trinity.]

128. The divine Redeemer is ever repeating His pressing invitation, «Abide in Me.» [John, 15:4.] Now by the sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ remains in us and we in Him, and just as Christ, remaining in us, lives and works, so should we remain in Christ and live and work through Him.

3. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter “Mysterium Fidei” (Mystery of Faith), September 3, 1965. In the matter of doctrine of Holy Eucharist and of its cultus(return)

( here is the link to whole Encyclical Letter on the Internet )

THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE PROPAGATION OF THE EUCHARISTIC WORSHIP

It is to be desired that the faithful, every day and in great numbers, actively participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass, receive Holy Communion with a pure heart, and give thanks to Christ Our Lord for so great a gift.

4. John Paul II, Letter “Dominicae Cenae”. To All The Bishops Of The Church On The Mystery And Worship Of The Eucharist, February 24, 1980. (return)

( here is the link to whole text of “Dominicae Cenae” on the Internet )

Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery

3. This worship is directed towards God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. […] It is also directed, in the Holy Spirit, to the incarnate Son, in the economy of salvation, especially at that moment of supreme dedication and total abandonment of Himself to which the words uttered in the Upper Room refer: […]

And this adoration of ours contains yet another special characteristic. It is compenetrated by the greatness of that human death, in which the world, that is to say each one of us, has been loved «to the end.» (Jn. 13:1) Thus it is also a response that tries to repay that love immolated even to the death on the cross: it is our «Eucharist», that is to say our giving Him thanks, our praise of Him for having redeemed us by His death and made us sharers in immortal life through His resurrection.

This worship […] above all accompanies and permeates the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy. But it must fill our churches also outside the timetable of Masses. Indeed, since the Eucharistic Mystery was instituted out of love, and makes Christ sacramentally present, it is worthy of thanksgiving and worship.

The encouragement and the deepening of eucharistic worship are proofs of that authentic renewal which the council set itself as an aim and of which they are the central point. And the venerable and dear brothers, deserves separate reflection. The Church and the world have a great need of eucharistic worship. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world by our adoration never cease.

Sacred Character

8. […] Church has a special duty to safeguard and strengthen the sacredness of the Eucharist. In our pluralistic and often deliberately secularized society, the living faith of the Christian community–a faith always aware of its rights vis–a–vis those who do not share that faith–ensures respect for this sacredness. The duty to respect each person's faith is the complement of the natural and civil right to freedom of conscience and of religion.

The sacred character of the Eucharist has found and continues to find expression in the terminology of theology and the liturgy. […] This sense of the objective sacred character of the Eucharistic Mystery is so much part of the faith of the People of God that their faith is enriched and strengthened by it. […] Therefore the ministers of the Eucharist must, especially today, be illumined by the fullness of this living faith, and in its light they must understand and perform all that is part, by Christ's will and the will of His Church, of their priestly ministry.

5. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction “Eucharisticum Mysterium”. On Eucharistic Worship, May 25, 1967. (return)

( here is the link to whole text of “Eucharisticum Mysterium” on the Internet )

38. PRIVATE PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

On those who receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the gift of the Spirit is poured out abundantly like living water (cf. John 7: 37–39), provided that this Body and Blood have been received sacramentally and spiritually, namely, by that faith which operates through charity (Cf. Council of Trent Session XIII, Decree on the Eucharist Chap. 8– Denz. 881 (1648)).

But union with Christ, to which the sacrament itself is directed, is not to be limited to the duration of the celebration of the Eucharist; it is to be prolonged into the entire Christian life, in such a way that the Christian faithful, contemplating unceasingly the gift they have received, may make their life a continual thanksgiving under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and may produce fruits of greater charity.

In order to remain more easily in this thanksgiving which is offered to God in an eminent way in the Mass, those who have been nourished by holy Communion should be encouraged to remain for a while in prayer (cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter “Mediator Dei” AAS 39 (1947), p. 566).

6. Congregation for the Clergy, The priest and the third Christian millennium teacher of the word, minister of the sacraments and leader of the community, March 19, 1999. (return)

( here is the link to whole text of “The priest and the third Christian millennium teacher…” on the Internet )

In this respect, the example of the priest–celebrant is fundamentally important: “celebrating the Eucharist well is an important form of primary catechesis on the Holy Sacrifice” (Congregation for the Clergy, Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests, Tota Ecclesia, 49). While this is not the immediate intention of the priest, it is important for the faithful to see him prepare well by recollecting himself before celebrating the Holy Sacrifice. They should be able to witness the love and devotion that he has for the Eucharist and, following his example, they should learn to remain, for a while, in thanksgiving after Holy Communion.

7. Statements of bishops in diocesan papers: (return)

In different diocesan papers Bishops refer also to the statements of Magisterium of the Catholic Church. For example, in „Biuletyn Katechetyczny Diecezji Bielsko–Żywieckiej” (Catechetical Bulletin of Bielsko–Żywiecka Diocese), No. 26/97 February, 1998, p. 22, there is the following admonition:

Thanksgiving after Holy Communion.

The participation in the Eucharist and all the more reception of Christ in Holy Communion – it requires the thanksgiving of everybody. Lately the attitude of thanksgiving became neglected. All catechists are asked to not forget about this duty and to teach, by word and their own example, children and the young people the thanksgiving after Holy Communion.

3. STATEMENTS OF THE SAINTS ABOUT ADORATION AFTER HOLY COMMUNION AND AFTER HOLY MASS

The statements of the saints are a precious supplement to two preceding sections of this webside. The preparing of comprehensive collection of such sentences is a task which one ought to carry out. Here give I a little portion of them.

1. St. Alphonse Maria de Liguori, blessed John from Avila, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, St. Theresa: (return)

The after-mentioned text it is my own translation of the text written in the book: «Św. Alfons Maria de Liguori, “Umiłowanie Jezusa Chrystusa w życiu codziennym”. Translation and redaction: M. Pierzchała OSsR, Z. Klafka CSsR, Kraków 1996, p. 117.»

St. Alphonse Maria de Liguori, the patron of moralists, in the book entitled “The fondness of Jesus Christ in the everyday life”, called up the witnesses of three saints who underlined the unusual value of the time after the receiving the Holy Communion:

“So that the Eucharistical participation may be fructuous, each disciple has to practice a long thanksgiving.

Father John from Avila spoke that the time after Holy Communion is «the time of receiving the treasures of mercy» (blessed John from Avila, Lettere spirituali, part I, p. 77, Firenze 1601).

Furthermore, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi said that «there is no better moment to kindle God′s love, as the time after Holy Communion» (V. Puccini, Vita, part I, ch. 65, Firenze 1611).

And St. Theresa wrote: «After Holy Communion do not lose so precious opportunity to negotiate with God. Almighty God will not want to pay badly for the flat, where He was hospitably undertaken» (St. Theresa, Camino de perfeccion, ch. 34, in: Obras, III, Burgos 1916, pp. 164–165)”.

2. St. Eugene de Mazenod, founder of Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who are very active in evangelisation: (return)

The after-mentioned text it is my own translation of the text written in the book: «R. Boudens, J. Katzer, “Eugeniusz de Mazenod. Miał serce wielkie jak świat”, Poznań 1995, p. 164.»

“I never will surrender to convince that the service to the neighbour can supplant the daily contemplation or preparation to the Holy Mass, thanksgiving after the Holy Mass or visiting the Holy Sacrament”.

4. LINKS TO OTHER WEBSITES ABOUT ADORATION AFTER HOLY COMMUNION AND AFTER HOLY MASS

Poprawny CSS!

Charakterystyka zawartości niniejszej strony, jej słów kluczowych:

Teaching of Church Fathers, Popes of XX century and saints about the thanksgiving after Holy Communion Church Fathers, Popes of XX century and saints convince us that it is proper and necessary to pray persistently - Wojciech Kosek, doctor of theology, Biblist, writes. And here are the words, binding the present side with main problems: God, Jesus, Christ, Holy Communion, Mass, Eucharist, Popes, bishops, Didache, saints, prophets, prayer, adoration, thanksgiving, contemplation, meeting, faith, Christianity, Jericho.