Thanksgiving is one of the biggest national holidays that our country celebrates. Everything comes to a standstill while families gather together around a meal to thank God for all the many blessings they have received throughout the year. Thanksgiving does not need to be a one-time, once a year event but it can also be a weekly or even a daily event if you attend the “Banquet” (CCC 1382) of all banquets, the Holy Eucharist, which itself means “Thanksgiving” (CCC 1359). Here is a great book giving thanks in all circumstances.
We remember the annual Thanksgiving meal due to the special dishes that are prepared which hit the spot so well that we just want to rest and relax. So too if we give thanks at each Mass we will receive special graces that hit the spot in our soul that needs it most. When you give thanks to God at Mass you get a deeper “foretaste” (CCC 1000) of heaven.
St. Joseph Cottolengo longed for this foretaste of heaven so much that he would tell the sisters making the host to make them thicker so Jesus would remain longer in him, and he could give thanks longer. This goes along with what the Compendium of the Catechism says in question 285,
“How long does the presence of Christ last in the Eucharist? The presence of Christ continues in the Eucharist as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.”
For this reason, St. Jose Maria Escriva, St. Thomas Aquinas, and even the present day Cardinal Francis Arinze mention that we should practice thanksgiving for at least 10-15 minutes while the “Real Presence” (CCC 1374) is still within us.
But Jesus is not just wanting us to give Him thanks, He also wants to fill us with special graces as when He tells St. Faustina in her diary,
“I desire to unite Myself with human souls; My great delight is to unite Myself with souls. Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognize Love! They treat Me as a dead object.” (1385)
St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church said, “There is no prayer more agreeable to God, or more profitable to the soul, than that which is made during thanksgiving after Communion.” St. Teresa of Avila, St. Juliana Falconieri. St. Catherine, St. Paschal, St. Veronica, St. Joseph Cupertino, and St. Gemma Galgani would go into ecstasy even to the point of levitation immediately after receiving Holy Communion. The great sweetness of this Food divinized them. These saints understood becoming one with Christ in the deepest sense of allowing their hearts to be melted into His heart. They seized the moment of encounter with God as when St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi says, “The minutes that follow Communion are the most precious we have in our lives.”
Of course, the Church’s documents and popes also recommend thanksgiving,
“The faithful are to be recommended not to omit to make a proper thanksgiving after Communion. They may do this during the celebration with a period of silence, with a hymn, psalm or other song of praise, or also after the celebration, if possible by staying behind to pray for a suitable time.” (Inaestimabile Donum no. 17)
Pope St. John XXIII prayed the joyful mysteries in thanksgiving while Pope Paul VI meditated in silence and then said the Divine Office. Pope St. John Paul II spent it in complete silence as Sacramentum Caritati says, “The precious time of thanksgiving after communion should not be neglected besides the singing of an appropriate hymn, it can also be most helpful to remain recollected in silence.” (50)
St. John Vianney actually gave a three-part program for Thanksgiving. First, remaining silent as one who listens silently and curious behind a door listening to the master’s orders. Second, after a period of silent love, ask Him for the graces you desire for yourself and others, and thirdly, ask the angels and saints but especially the Blessed Virgin Mary to thank God with you.
Finally, remember you are at the great Banquet of Thanksgiving and you have eaten the very best Food the King has to offer and you must not let your taste buds taste any other food that is not part of the Banquet as St. John Chrysostom says,
“When a person has eaten some delicious food at the banquet, he is careful not to take anything bitter in his mouth immediately after, lest he should lose the sweet flavour of those delicate viands. In like manner, when we have received the precious Body of Jesus Christ, we should take care not to lose its heavenly flavour by turning too soon to the cares and business of the world.”
Video of St. Joseph Cupertino levitating