The Most Blessed Sacrament
Imprimatur: 1973, Naples, Italy

Thanksgiving After Holy Communion, Part 2

St. Philip and the Candles

The Apostle, St. Paul, wrote, "Glorify and bear God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:20). There is no time in which these words, taken literally, apply so well, as during the time immediately after receiving Holy Communion. How unfeeling it is, then, for someone to receive Communion and leave the church at once as soon as Mass is over, or as soon as he has received Our Lord! We may remember the example of St. Philip Neri, who had two altar boys with lighted candies go to accompany a man who had left the church right after his Communion. What a beautiful lesson! For the sake of good manners, if for no other reason, when a person receives a guest, he pauses to give his attention to him and takes interest in him. If this guest is Jesus, then we will only have reason to be sorry that His bodily presence within us scarcely lasts fifteen minutes or a little more. In view of this, St. Joseph Cottolengo used to personally oversee the baking of hosts for Mass and Communion. To the sister assigned to this he gave the following instruction: "Make the hosts thick so that I can linger a long time with Jesus. I do not want the Sacred Species to quickly dissolve."
Are we not perhaps acting contrary to the example of the Saints when we regard our period of Thanksgiving as too long and perhaps feel impatient to get it over with? But, oh how we should watch ourselves here! For if it is true that at every Communion Jesus "gives us a hundredfold for the hospitality we show Him," as St. Teresa of Jesus declares, then it is likewise true that we must answer a hundredfold for neglecting this hospitality. A fellow Capuchin of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina told how one day he went to Confession to the holy friar, and among other things, confessed omitting his Thanksgiving after Holy Mass because, he said, some ministry made him unable. While Padre Pio was lenient in judging the other faults when he heard him confess this omission, he grew more serious, and, with a stern look, he said firmly "Let us see to it that our being unable is not just being unwilling. I always have to make my Thanksgiving; otherwise I pay dearly."
Let us give the matter serious thought and attention. When it comes to something so very precious as this Thanksgiving, let us take to heart the Holy Spirit's admonition, "Let not your share of desired good pass you by" (Ecclus. 14:14).

Thanksgiving with the Madonna

There is a special beauty in a Thanksgiving made in Mary's company in honour of Her Annunciation. Right after Holy Communion we carry Jesus within our souls and bodies, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did when She had received the message of the Angel. We cannot find a better way to adore and love Jesus at that time than by making our dispositions agree with those of the Mother of God, making our own the same sentiments of adoration and love that She had toward Her Divine Son Jesus enclosed under Her Immaculate Heart. It can be helpful in achieving this, to recite meditatively the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Let us try it. We cannot fail to profit by becoming united this way with the Madonna in order to love Jesus with Her Heavenly Heart.

The Bread of the Strong and Viaticum for Heaven

It ought not to be necessary to say that for everybody, Christ in the Eucharist is the true Bread to make them strong. It is the nourishment to make men heroic, to sustain Martyrs, and to bring strength and peace to souls in their last agony.

In the Eucharist, Jesus repeats to us, who suffer and moan in this valley of tears, this affectionate summons, "Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you" (Matt. 11:28).
For certainly, "The life of man upon earth is a warfare" (Job 7:1). Moreover, Jesus' followers "shall suffer persecution" (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:10); and it is true that they that are Christ's "have crucified their flesh with its passions and concupiscences" (Gal. 5:24), and that we ought to live as dead "with Christ to the elements of the world" (Col. 2:20).

It is also true that with Jesus "I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13), for Jesus is "all" (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:17). In Holy Communion He makes Himself "all mine." I can, then, say with the Servant of God, Luisa M. Claret de la Touche, "What need I fear? He Who sustains the world is within me. The Blood of a God circulates within my veins: Have no fear, O my soul. The Lord of the Universe has taken you up into His Arms and wants you to find rest in Him."

Hence, St. Vincent de Paul was able to ask his missionaries, "When you have received Jesus into your hearts, can any sacrifice be impossible for you?" And St. Vincent, during the two years he had to suffer in prison as a victim of persecution, exceedingly abounded with joy in all his tribulations (cf. 2 Cor. 7:4), because he managed to be able to celebrate Holy Mass every day in spite of his fetters and chains and the darkness of his dungeon. The same fortitude and joy was given to St. Joan of Arc when she was allowed to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist before going to her execution at the stake. When Jesus entered her dark prison, the Saint fell on her knees, and, wearing her chains, received Jesus, and became absorbed in prayer. As soon as she was bidden to go forth to her death, she rose and made her journey without interrupting her prayer. She proceeded to the stake and died amid the flames, ever in union with Jesus, Who remained in her soul and in that body which was sacrificed.

Strength of the Martyrs

The whole history of the Martyrs, from St. Stephen, the protoMartyr, to the angelic Martyr, St. Tarcisus, and the more recent Martyrs, is a story of the super-human strength which the Eucharist bestows on them as they do battle against the devil and against all the hellish powers that operate in the world (cf. 1 Pet. 5:9).

Remember, also, the heavenly comfort and help which Holy Communion brings to the sick, and not merely to their souls, but to their bodies also, which sometimes become wonderfully healed. It used to happen, for example, to St. Lidwina and to Alexandria Da Costa, that during the whole time the Sacred Species remained within their bodies, their terrible physical sufferings would marvelously cease. It likewise happened to St. Lawrence of Brindisi and St. Peter Claver, that all the pains of the serious ailments that had been tormenting them, would cease when they were celebrating Holy Mass.