Several weeks back, someone asked me this question: Why stay and pray after Mass? This person had been instructed by a priest that, since the Mass is the greatest prayer Catholics have (and what prayers after Mass could top it?), and we are told to “Go” in the Dismissal, we are supposed to actually leave & not stay to pray afterwards. As I’ve thought about this question, I’ve realized that, in our parishes, we don’t really talk much about Praying after Mass. The people who pray after Mass probably grew up doing it, and the people who don't pray after Mass haven't grown up with it. But the Eucharist is a Big Deal, so I think this conversation is significant.
I’ve thought more and more about this over the weeks, and I’ve been seeing how hugely important Praying after Mass is. In fact, this simple act can change our culture. I’m not going to get into translations of the Dismissal or the Leonine Prayers or any of that jazz (those topics are fascinating, and there are other articles you can find about them). Instead, plain and simple, I want to outline a few basic reasons why we should pray after Mass.
It’s a way to thank Jesus for the gift of Himself! Praying after Mass, thanking Jesus for the intimate encounter we have received, is a way of acknowledging that HOLY SMOKIN’ INCENSE, BATMAN! WE JUST ATE THE SON OF GOD!!!!!!!!! We’ve just received Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—how cool is that??? The least we can do is kneel down after Mass and thank Jesus for this incredible gift.
|Or, as St. Madeleine Sophie Barat more eloquently expressed it :)|
It shows the importance of what just happened. It shows other people that Mass is a Big Deal, and that the Eucharist should have an impact on us. When Jesus enters our bodies, He wants to transform us—will we let Him? Will we spend some quiet time with Him after Mass, talking about this transformation? Especially during those times when non-Catholics or fallen-away Catholics come to Mass, they can hopefully see that we value a time of silent prayer to Our Lord after receiving Him, because we are changed people, and Mass is a super Big Deal.
It helps us refocus on the Eucharist. People, I struggle keeping my focus at Mass sometimes. There are days when I’m watching the priest during the Introductory right, and then BAM! The First Reading ends. Did I really just go through the motions and zone out during a large portion of the Liturgy of the Word?? Yikes. It’s also really easy to get off track during the Offertory, I’ve found. Instead of being consumed in the beautiful reality of the Liturgy, I’ve been thinking about donuts. Or Dr. Who. Or some other random thing. Taking the time after Mass to really focus on what’s just happened—from the readings to the Eucharist—is a great way to get out of autopilot mode and realize that extreme Eucharistic Epicness just took place.
It’s a great way to get in some silent prayer with the Lord. We need silence to hear God speak. But honestly, how many times do we find for silent prayer throughout the week? You either have kids, household duties, jobs, extracurricular activities, or gatherings that fill the hours with noise and business. We see in 1 Kings 19 that God was in “a light silent sound” (other translations I’ve read say “still, small voice.” You get the idea). We need silence to hear God speak—so have some silent prayer after Mass, while God is physically inside of you.
The saints did it. In the Catholic Church, we really value tradition and learning from the epic holy people who have gone before us. And praying in the presence of the Eucharist is one of those traditions that we’ve been doing for centuries. St. Catherine of Siena would, occasionally, go into ecstasy after receiving Our Lord at Mass. And then there’s Blessed Imelda Lambertini. As a 9-year-old girl, she really wanted to receive the Eucharist. But back then, girls her age weren’t allowed to do this. She prayed and prayed and prayed, and one day after Mass, some religious sisters (she lived at the convent) saw that the Sacred Host was suspended over her head! A priest gave Imelda her first Holy Communion, and then left her to pray in thanksgiving for this gift. Later, the sisters discovered that little Imelda had died while saying prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord!!
It can change our culture. Think about how many people out there who have been raised Catholic, but they fall away. Catholicism becomes a routine that they submit to every Christmas and Easter, or when relatives come into town. But if we start praying after Mass, and recognizing what a huge, transformative, epic reality the Eucharist is, our parishes will be transformed. And hopefully, our lives will be transformed as we grow in Eucharistic devotion. And maybe, just maybe, as people realize how incredible the Eucharist is, they will start changing the way they live. And when all (or at least most) of the Catholics start refocusing their lives on God, the Eucharist, and becoming transformed, we will see a cultural transformation.
There are two books in particular that I recommend: Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with the Saints, by Fr. Benedict Groeschel & James Monti, and Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints, by Joan Carroll Cruz. There are lots of good books about the Eucharist, but these are the first two that come to mind. Friends, today is the day that we can begin growign in our devotion and love of the Eucharist! Let's be intentional and take at least a few minutes to pray after Mass in silence, as we recognize the Extraordinary Gift Who is inside of us!!! J
“Now when we have received our Lord and have Him in our body, let us not then let Him alone, and get us forth about other things, and look no more unto Him…but let all our business be about Him. Let us by devout prayer talk to Him, by devout meditation talk with Him. Let us say with the prophet…I will hear what our Lord will speak within me.” ~St. Thomas More
You might also be interested in this post about Eucharistic Devotion: Clothes for the Wedding!