By Sister M. Catherine Ditto
A Eucharistic Month
The month of June is considered a Eucharistic Month, because it usually includes both Corpus Christi (Body of Christ, feast of the celebration of Jesus’ true presence in the Eucharist, celebrated this year on June 3 or 6), as well as the Sacred Heart of Jesus (celebrated this year on June 11). As such, we would like to pray a special Eucharistic prayer of Father Kentenich’s: the “After Holy Communion” prayer. First, a little background on its origin.
Origin of the “After Holy Communion” Prayer
While imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II, Father Kentenich and a circle of Schoenstatt priests led a grace-filled existence in the midst of the hellish environment of Dachau, a notorious concentration camp. In fact, these priests experienced such an uplifting and supernatural atmosphere, that after their release, many longed for their “Dachau days” when they lived in such close union with God. It was like a spiritual retreat for them. In Father Kentenich’s introduction to Heavenwards, a collection of prayers he wrote while imprisoned in Dachau, we read:
These prayers originated in the “hell of Dachau.” May the “heavenwards” spirit which formed them and gave many the strength to master the difficulties of everyday life, always remain a part of the family and bear abundant fruit! (September 20, 1945, upon publication of the first Heavenwards prayer book)
Father Kentenich wrote the prayers from the “Mass of God’s Instruments” from March 19–25, 1945. They are meant as meditations on the various parts of holy Mass, including the Kyrie, Gloria, Preface, Consecration Prayer, Our Father, etc. The “After Holy Communion” prayer is my favorite prayer in this collection.
The “After Holy Communion” prayer consists of five sections of four stanzas each, followed by a concluding stanza. Since it is a long prayer, I will summarize each section. The full prayer can be found on pages 39–43 in Heavenwards. For those who are familiar with the five criteria of a Ver Sacrum generation, you will notice the sections reflect points 2–5.
Section 1: Chosen – Jesus is in me.
“I may rest, Lord, upon your breast … like the disciple you loved. … You are, with your entire being, deep in the shrine of my heart.” Jesus has just entered into us in Holy Communion and we rest in him. Heart rests in heart. We know ourselves chosen in a special way to be near to our eternal Lord and Savior. We become a living shrine where he is present and adored. We savor this truth.
Section 2: Set aside – Adoration and surrender.
“I want to dedicate my love, like a pure lily, to you alone. … Everything I have is yours. … Take from me what I have and am. I surrender absolutely everything.” The union we may experience in the reception of Holy Communion calls for our response: All for you! Father Kentenich reminds us to always bring a gift along to Holy Communion, and in this moment, we give it to Jesus: Everything, absolutely everything – what is easy, what is hard, what is beautiful, what hurts, whatever real life brings us, he wants it all.
Section 3: Sacrifice – Readiness for sacrifice and suffering.
“You, the transfigured offering, wish strict discipline of me. … Without the winepress, there is no wine; wheat must first be ground. … Nothing will ever be too difficult for me, when it is for your sake, O Lord.” We realize that the call to discipleship requires sacrifices and renunciations, and these lead to personal growth. This is not always easy, but we try to understand and we profess our readiness for this pruning that allows for a deeper love. We courageously promise to do our best with what comes our way.
Section 4: Accompaniment – Jesus goes with me.
“You will never abandon me and always be within me, helping me. … You will accompany me, Lord, wherever you send me in the whole wide world.” Now Jesus rewards our courage to sacrifice with the reminder that we must never go through this alone. He is with us, always, no matter what, even if we are very far from home. Also if we feel very alone, we are not. Feelings alone can be deceptive. It is in these moments that God is closest to us. He will never abandon us – we can truly rely on this!
Section 5: Future vision – Results of this communion.
“If I remain so united with you, you will gradually transform me and the Father will look on me from eternity with great delight. Through me he will build the city of peace, the promised city of God.” What a promise! Jesus loves to remind us of what the future holds. This gives us hope in the midst of our daily life with whatever struggles the day may bring. God will use us as his instrument to bring about his kingdom on earth. We cling to these promises and trust in their realization, even if they still seem far away.
Interested in More?
If you would like to read the full text of this beautiful prayer, or to pray through the other prayers from Heavenwards, you can find a digital version here: http://schhw.net/en/index.htm
You can purchase your own prayer book by calling our Retreat Center Store at 262-522-4300 or purchase online at the Schoenstatt Fathers’ store: https://www.patrisstore.com/books-1/heavenwards-2