We have to respect our Lord
The great treasure of the Catholic Church is the Eucharist – Jesus himself disguised under the appearances of bread and wine. We believe that, as the Catechism says, ” In the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood are truly, truly and substantially contained together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ ‘ ” ( CCC 1374).
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Moreover, this real presence of Christ in the Eucharist does not end immediately when we receive it at the time of Communion. The Catechism goes on to explain how “the Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsists” (CCC 1377).
But what does it mean when we receive Communion in our mouths? How long does the Real Presence of Jesus remain in our bodies?
There is a famous story from the life of St. Philip Neri that helps answer that question. One day, while celebrating Mass, a man received Holy Communion and left the church earlier. The man seemed to have no respect for the Presence within him, and so Philip Néri decided to use this opportunity as a teaching moment. He sent two altar boys with candles burning to follow the man outside the church.
After some time walking the streets of Rome, the man turned to see the little men who were still following him. Confused, the man returned to the church and asked Philip why he had sent the altar boys behind him. St. Philip Néri replied by saying: “We have to pay due respect to Our Lord, who you are taking with you. Since you refused to worship him, I sent the two acolytes to do this. ” The man was stunned by the answer and decided, from the next few times, to become more aware of God’s presence within him.
It is considered that the Eucharistic species of bread remains for about 15 minutes in us, after receiving the Communion. This is based on simple biology and reflects the statement of the Catechism that the presence of Christ “remains as long as the Eucharistic species persists.”
That is why many saints have recommended to offer 15 minutes of prayer after receiving the Eucharist, as a thanksgiving to God. This allows our soul to relish the presence of God, and for us to have a true “heart to heart” encounter with Jesus.
In our running world, it is often difficult to remain in the Church long after the Mass. But that does not mean that we can not at least make a brief prayer of thanks. The main point is that we need to remember that the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist stays with us for several minutes and presents us with a special moment when we can commune with the Lord and feel his love within us.
If you forget that one day, do not be surprised if your parish priest sends you little parishioners to follow your car when you leave the Church soon after receiving Communion!