As we continually grow in our Catholic beliefs in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, I thought I would use today’s column to share some prayers that might be helpful for people who would like to develop a vocabulary for praying before or after receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
As you may know, the priest who offers Mass has many prayers that he says out loud during the Eucharist. Yet there are also several prayers he says quietly, such as while preparing to proclaim the Gospel or when he washes his hands at the Offertory. Today I want to share several prayers that the priest offers before receiving Holy Communion or one that he says at the end of the Communion Rite.
Before receiving Holy Communion, the priest bows and says in a soft voice:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit, through your Death gave life to the world, free me by this, your most holy Body and Blood, from all my sins and from every evil; keep me always faithful to your commandments, and never let me be parted from you.”
“May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body and a healing remedy.”
I usually say both prayers before elevating the host and chalice and then declaring: “Behold the Lamb of God…” I think the two prayers express praise for the saving work of Jesus, contrition for my sins, a desire for healing and a sincere hope for an unbreakable bond with the Lord. I recommend these prayers to you as something you might learn and offer to the Lord before receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
At the end of the Communion Rite, as the priest is abluting the chalice and paten, he prays:
“What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.”
This is a simple prayer that expressed the desire for a healing union that will never end in the kingdom of God. This is a prayer that anyone of us can commit to memory and offer as we receive Holy Communion each Sunday.
My hope is that each of us throughout life develops a way of giving thanks for the gift of Jesus as we receive him in Holy Communion. Whether we are singing the communion song, or in silent prayer or pouring out our hearts in thanksgiving and praise, all of this is meant to help express our gratitude for the closeness of Jesus in his real presence in the Holy Eucharist. May this Advent Season in which we express our praise for the wonder of the Lord’s incarnation, also be a time rich in gratitude for his continued presence among us in the most Holy Eucharist.
Bishop Michael McGovern