The Most Blessed Sacrament
Imprimatur: 1973, Naples, Italy

Thanksgiving After Holy Communion, Part 1

The time of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion is the most ideal time for an intimate exchange of love with Jesus. Let it be a love of total self-giving thus returning Jesus' love so wholeheartedly that there is no longer two of us but one, so to speak, in soul and body. Let it be a love that vivifies and unites, --- He in me and I in Him, so that we may be consumed in the uniqueness and unity of His love.

"You are my loving prey just as I am the object of Your immense charity," said St. Gemma to Jesus with tenderness.

St. John wrote, "Blessed are they that are called to the wedding banquet of the Lamb" (Apoc. 19:9). In truth, in Eucharistic Communion rightly received, the soul realizes, in a heavenly virginal union, a nuptial love for the Spouse, Jesus, to Whom the soul can say with the most tender enthusiasm of the Bride in the Canticle of Canticles: "Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His mouth" (Cant. 1:1).

Thanksgiving after Holy Communion is a small foretaste, while on earth, of the love which will be experienced in Paradise. In Heaven, in fact, how shall we love Jesus if not by being one with Him eternally? Dear Jesus, sweet Jesus, oh how I ought to thank You for every Holy Communion that You grant me! Did not St. Gemma have good reason to say she would thank You in Paradise for the Eucharist more than for anything else? What a miracle of love to be so completely united with You, O Jesus!

Water, Yeast, Wax

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Father of the Church, used three illustrations to show the union of love with Jesus in Holy Communion: "He who receives Communion is made holy and Divinized in soul and body in the same way that water, set over a fire, becomes boiling. ... Communion works like yeast that has been mixed into dough so that it leavens the whole Mass: ... Just as by melting two candles together you get one piece of wax, so, I think, one who receives the Flesh and Blood of Jesus is fused together with Him by this Communion, and the soul finds that he is in Christ and Christ is in him."

For this reason St. Gemma Galgani used to speak in awed wonder of the Eucharistic union between "Jesus Who is All and Gemma who is nothing." In an ecstasy she exclaimed, "What great sweetness there is, O Jesus, in Communion! I want to live in Your embrace and die in Your embrace." And Blessed Contardo Ferrini wrote, "Ah, Holy Communion! unspeakable heights for a human spirit to reach! What does the world have that equals these pure, heavenly joys, these tastes of eternal glory?"

There is another value Holy Communion has that deserves our reflections, and it is in reference to the Blessed Trinity. One day St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi was kneeling with arms crossed among the novices after Communion. She raised her eyes heavenward and said, "O Sisters, if only we would comprehend the fact that while the Eucharistic Species remain within us, Jesus is there and working in us inseparably with the Father and the Holy Spirit and therefore the whole Holy Trinity is there---" She could not finish speaking because she became wrapt in ecstasy.

Remain at Least Fifteen Minutes

The Saints chose, when it was possible, to set no time limit for thanksgiving after Communion, which would last at least a half hour. St. Teresa of Jesus told her daughters, "Let us detain ourselves lovingly with Jesus and not waste the hour that follows Communion. It is an excellent time to deal with God and put before Him the matters that concern our soul. ... As we know that good Jesus remains within us until our natural warmth has dissolved the bread-like qualities, we should take great care not to lose such a beautiful opportunity to treat with Him and lay our needs before Him."

St. Francis of Assisi, St. Juliana Falconieri, St. Catherine, St. Paschal, St. Veronica, St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Gemma, and many others, used to almost always go into a loving ecstasy immediately after Holy Communion. As for the duration, only the angels measured the time. Also St. Teresa of Avila nearly always went into ecstasy right after receiving Holy Communion, and sometimes it was necessary to carry her away bodily from the Communion grille.

St. John of Avila, St. Ignatius Loyola, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga used to make their thanksgiving on their knees for two hours. St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi wanted it to continue without interruption. It was necessary to constrain her so that she might take a little nourishment "The minutes that follow Communion," the Saint said, "are the most precious we have in our lives. They are the minutes best suited on our part for treating with God, and on His part for communicating His love to us."

St. Louis Grignon de Montfort used to remain for Thanksgiving after Holy Mass at least a half hour, and he would not let there be any worry or engagement that could make him omit it. He said, "I would not give up this hour of Thanksgiving even for an hour of Paradise."

Let us also then make the following resolutions: That we will so organize our time and our lives that we will remain in Thanksgiving after Holy Communion for at least fifteen minutes; and further resolve to allow nothing to stop us from taking this time for Thanksgiving. These minutes in which Jesus is physically present to our souls and within our bodies are heavenly minutes that we should by no means waste.