At a recent Family of Faith gathering, some of our families shared some reflections on how their families pray together. One family had mentioned how the children asked the parents about why they did not pray the Thanksgiving after Meals Prayer, as they had observed with their grandparents. The parents humbly received the challenge from their children and have added it to the end of their meals.
I think this example highlights something many of us experience. We can be pretty good about praying before our meals, but how often do we conclude our meal with a prayer of thanksgiving? Perhaps some of us are not even aware that there is a standard prayer for after meals! For reference, here is one I usually use:
We give you thanks, Almighty God, for these and all of thy benefits, which we have received from your bounty, through Christ, our Lord. May the divine assistance remain always with us, and may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Now, this also applies to the meal of the Eucharist. Many of us take time to show up a little early to pray as we prepare for Mass. But it is not so common to see people remain after the final blessing to spend some time in thanksgiving for the gifts received in the Eucharist. There are a variety of ways to offer thanksgiving, typically usually your own words, thanking God for the gift of His life shared in the Eucharist, praying that the graces received will bear fruit in your life, guarding you from all of the threats that can throw you off from following Him.
There are some very beautiful prayers that have been composed over the years that can be used as well. There is a Prayer after Communion written by St. Thomas Aquinas that can be found on the back of the white Pray Together booklets in our pews. One of my favorite prayers is called the Universal Prayer, which has been attributed to Pope Clement XI. It is rather long, but beautiful, and I share it here in case you would like to give it a shot. Whatever prayer you offer, I encourage you to do something, as it will only strengthen your love for this sublime gift of His Body and Blood that He offers to us at each Mass:
Lord, I believe in You: increase my faith. I trust in You: strengthen my trust. I love You: let me love You more and more. I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow. I worship You as my first beginning, I long for You as my last end, I praise You as my constant helper, and call on You as my loving protector. Guide me by Your wisdom, correct me with Your justice, comfort me with Your mercy,
protect me with Your power. I offer You, Lord, my thoughts; to be fixed on You;
my words: to have You for their theme; my actions: to reflect my love for You;
my sufferings: to be endured for Your greater glory. I want to do what You ask of me: in the way You ask, because You ask. Lord, enlighten my understanding,
strengthen my will, purify my heart, and make me holy. Let me love You, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am: a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies. Help me to repent of my past sins and to resist temptation in the future. Help me to rise above my human weakness and to grow stronger as a Christian. Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out toward others. Make me prudent in planning,
courageous in taking risks. Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity. Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer, temperate in food and drink,
diligent in my work, firm in my good intentions. Let my conscience be clear,
my conduct without fault, my speech blameless, my life well-ordered. Put me on guard against my human weaknesses. Let me cherish Your love for me, keep Your law, and come at last to Your salvation. Teach me to realize that this world is passing, that my true future is happiness of heaven, that life on earth is short,
and the life to come eternal. Help me to prepare for death with a proper fear of judgment, but a greater trust in Your goodness. Lead me safely through death to the endless joy of heaven. Grant this though Christ our Lord. Amen.