Dear Good Shepherd Parishioners,
There is a quiet prayer that the priest prays at Mass that I’d like to share with you. At a certain point of the Mass the priest says quietly: “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.”
The priest prays this prayer on behalf of the people during the purification of the vessels after communion. This part of the Mass may seem like it only involves the priest and servers, and in a physical sense this is true, as they are the only people up there doing anything. However, if we meditate on what is going on at this point of the Mass it becomes clearer that it is a time for prayer for everyone in the Church.
To begin with we should talk about what practically happens during the purification. The vessels (chalice and ciborium) have water poured into them which is then consumed by the priest. This happens so that any particles of the host that may have been in the ciborium or chalice, along with any remnant of the Precious Blood, are not left remaining in those vessels. We do this because of our believe that each and every particle of what appears to be bread and every single drop of what appears to be wine, is in fact the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus.
When viewed in this way we can see how the purification is in fact an act of worship of the Holy Eucharist. Taking time to worry about what might seem like insignificant particles of bread shows what we believe, namely that Jesus is truly present with us Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity! Additionally, it is not just an act of worship on the part of the priest. As you kneel, or sit as you are able, in your place after communion, you don’t just have to passively watch the priest going about his business up at the altar. You have the opportunity also to reaffirm your belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist during this time as well by making an act of faith in your heart. That act of faith can be any- thing. It could be a memorized prayer or a prayer of your own making. It could also be simply a spirit of silent adoration of the Lord acknowledging his presence with you.
I would encourage you to use this time after communion for prayer and adoration and not let it pass you by! To help you in your meditation I will leave you with a prayer that we use with communion ministers to the sick as we retrieve the host from the tabernacle:
O Holy Banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace, and there is given to us a pledge of future glory. You have given them bread from heaven Having all sweetness within it.
O God, who in this wonderful sacrament left us a memorial of your passion, grant, we implore you, that we may so venerate the Sacred Mysteries of your Body and Blood as always to be conscious of the fruit of your redemption. You who live and reign forever and ever.