In one of Saint Catherine of Siena’s revelations, God the Father told her that “thanksgiving makes the soul incessantly delight in Him; it frees men from negligence and lukewarmness altogether and makes them anxious to please Him more and more in all things.”
When I am preoccupied with the cares of life and withhold my gratitude, it is reflected in my inner being. I become more anxious. I am prone to envy and to anger. And I am less joyful. It seems to me that thanksgiving is the key to unlocking true gratitude, which in turn unlocks peace and joy.
The Bible shows us that Jesus Himself was distressed at lack of gratitude. When ten lepers lifted up their pitiful voices and cried out, “Jesus, have mercy on us,” they were all cured. Nine went away to show themselves to the priest and only one—an outcast Samaritan—went back to find Jesus and thank Him. Astonished, Jesus said, “Were not ten made clean? Where are the other nine? There is no one found to return and give glory to God but this stranger?” (Luke 17:17-18)
I have heard it said that the more thankful we are, the happier we become, and I witness this whenever I visit the Missionaries of the Poor (M.O.P). It is clear that the brother’s work with the poor and the suffering would be impossible without an intense spirit of prayer. Yet it is from their spirit of thankfulness that they seem to draw constant strength.
We are fortunate to have an M.O.P. monastery near Charlotte NC (it's in Monroe) and my children and I volunteer there occasionally. I’ve noticed that these missionaries sincerely thank God at every opportunity. One day, on a recent visit, I decided to count the number of times I heard them give thanksgiving to God. After just a few hours with them, I had already heard such thanksgivings twenty-two times.
In the story about Jesus and the ten lepers, we see how Jesus transformed their lives. He transforms us as well, each time we receive Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Perhaps this is where we should begin our thanksgiving to God…by remembering to offer Him a prayer of thanksgiving each time we receive Him at Mass. After all, the word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek word eucharistia which means to give thanks!
One of the greatest teachers on thanksgiving after Communion is St. Teresa of Avila. "Let us detain ourselves lovingly with Jesus," she said, "and not waste the hour that follows Communion.” It has been said, “If your thanksgivings are poor and wretched, pray to St. Teresa and she will get you straight.”
There are many prayers that can be said in thanksgiving after Communion. The following prayer is attributed to Saint Basil:
O Master Christ our God, King of the Ages, Maker of all things: I thank Thee for all the good things Thou hast given me, especially for the communion with Thy most pure and life-creating Mysteries. I pray Thee, O gracious Lover of Man: preserve me under Thy protection, beneath the shadow of Thy wings. Enable me, even to my last breath, to partake worthily and with a pure conscience of Thy holy things, for the remission of sins and unto life eternal. For Thou art the Bread of Life, the Fountain of Holiness, the Giver of all Good; to Thee we ascribe glory, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Do you have a special prayer of thanks that you say after receiving Holy Communion? If you do, share it with us in the comments below!