Better Than Paradise: Thanksgiving After Mass

“There is no prayer more agreeable to God, or more profitable to the soul than that which is made during the thanksgiving after Communion.” -St. Alphonsus Liguori

“The Mass has ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

Those words usually bring great relief to parents at Mass, especially those with little children, to the mothers with bloodied legs and shredded stockings from the velcro of their toddlers’ solid rubber sneakers and to the fathers with aching arms and piercing headaches from trying to restrain and discipline little ones discreetly in the pew. By the grace of God if nothing volcanic erupted during Mass, the temptation to bolt immediately after before anything can is enormous.

If we do, though, we’ll be missing out on the abundance of grace that comes from an almost-forgotten or unknown practice: the act of thanksgiving after Mass. Our Church’s tradition and our beloved saints have long cherished this special time with the Lord after having received Him in Holy Communion.

Francis Cardinal Arinze, then prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, at the convention of The Church Teaches Forum in Louisville, Kentucky on July 18, 2003, remarked:

Thanksgiving after Mass has traditionally been greatly esteemed in the Church for both the priest and the lay faithful. The missal and the breviary even suggest prayers for the priest before and after the Eucharistic celebration. There is no reason to believe that this is no longer needed. Indeed in our noisy world of today, such moments of reflective and loving prayers would seem indicated more than even before.

St. Louis de Montfort went so far as to say, “I would not give up this hour of Thanksgiving even for an hour of Paradise.”

What are we missing out on by leaving immediately after Mass? Is it possible that we’re leaving grace on the table? And what did St. Louis de Montfort experience during that time that made him prefer it to anything else? If you’re interested in keeping your family behind for a few minutes after Mass and need more encouragement, here’s a great article on the history of the practice and lots of great quotes from the saints on this beloved time of theirs.

For ideas of prayers to say during that time, various saints have composed their own acts of thanksgiving. With a little research we can team up with some of our favorite saints to help us or our family find the right words to thank Our Lord for the inestimable gift of Himself.

“You must always be aware of and thankful for that favor of the King which throughout your life marks your flesh and your spirit with the royal seal of the Holy Cross.” -St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, 773

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