Step-by-Step Walk Through the Mass

Do This in Remembrance of Me, Part 76: Prayer after Communion

“Let us pray.” Following Holy Communion and our time for prayer, we prepare to go forth out into the world. This is called the Prayer after Communion. As the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says, “To bring to completion the prayer of the People of God, and also to conclude the whole Communion Rite, the Priest pronounces the Prayer after Communion, in which he prays for the fruits of the mystery just celebrated….The people make the prayer their own by means of the acclamation Amen”(GIRM, 89). According to the Diocese of Peoria, “Oftentimes [this] Prayer beseeches God to put the graces received in the Eucharist into practice, and to bring the celebration to fulfillment in Heaven. [This] Prayer often indicates our mission as disciples of Christ in the world” (A Study of the Mass, p.20).

Parishioners standing in church with hands held up in prayer

Short, Quick, and Wonderful Prayers

These prayers can very often be short and quick… although to miss them is truly to miss something wonderful. For example, consider these Prayers after Communion from the Solemnities of our Lord during Ordinary Time:

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi): “Grant, O Lord, we pray, that we may delight for all eternity in that share in your divine life, which is foreshadowed in the present age by our reception of your precious Body and Blood. Who live and reign for ever and ever.”

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus: “May this sacrament of charity, O Lord, make us fervent with the fire of holy love, so that, drawn always to your Son, we may learn to see him in our neighbor. Through Christ our Lord.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: “Having received the food of immortality, we ask, O Lord, that, glorying in obedience to the commands of Christ, the King of the universe, we may live with him eternally in his heavenly Kingdom. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.”

While I certainly would enjoy sharing many more of these rich prayers, these examples give us a good idea of what we are praying at this part of the Mass. We are recalling the amazing gift we have received. We are asking that the fruits of Jesus truly present will strengthen us in his love as we go out in the world. We are looking toward sharing the fullness of life with our loving Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Girl and boy kneeling with hands folded and eyes closed in prayer

Preparing to Go Forth as Missionary Disciples

As Charles Belmonte teaches, the Prayer after Communion actually helps very well to pull together what we have heard, said, and done at the Mass: “We have been nourished with the ‘bread of life,’ the food which is the source of our fortitude. This virtue of fortitude enables us to sustain the daily combat against our passions and our weaknesses… The virtue of fortitude goes hand in hand with the capacity of sacrificing oneself… The Gospel is addressed to weak, poor, meek and humble men, to peacemakers and to the merciful, but, at the same time, it contains a constant appeal to fortitude. The Gospel often repeats: ‘Fear not’ (Mt 14:27). It teaches man that, for a just cause, for truth, for justice, one must be able to ‘lay down one’s life’ (Jn 15:13)… We can profit a lot from the Prayers after Communion by using them as an inspiration for personal reflection during the course of the day”(Understanding the Mass, p.191–3).

Being honest with ourselves, we know that sometimes at this point in the Mass we are looking ahead to what is next, perhaps a nice family meal or enjoying the big game. The Prayer after Communion, however, reminds us that the fruits of the Mass don’t just take place within the church walls—they also happen in our minds and hearts. As we get ready to go forth, hopefully we have been strengthened with resolve for faithfulness. Hopefully, our hearts have become more like the One who loves us best.

So, instead of thinking past this moment in the Mass to your exit plan from the parking lot, why not use this as one last opportunity to put everything together and really prepare to go out into the world as a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ? If we do this, we won’t as easily forget the great graces we have received at the Holy Mass. Instead, we will actively carry them with us throughout the day—and even better—share them with others!