The ending prayer of the Communion Rite

The Prayer After Communion offers a rich theology on the Eucharist’s transforming power

By Father Randy Stice

This column is the last of a three-part series on the three proper prayers of the Mass. In previous columns, I have discussed the Collect and the Prayer Over the Offerings, so in this final column I want to look at the Prayer After Communion. As with the other prayers, the Prayer After Communion developed very early. A fourth-century document includes an invitation to the assembly to thank Christ, “who has made us worthy to be sharers of His holy mysteries,”1 and we have examples of this prayer in important liturgical manuscripts from the sixth and seventh centuries.

The Prayer After Communion concludes the Communion Rite and is a petition for “the fruits of the mystery just celebrated.”2 It is a good example of an ancient principle of the Catholic tradition, lex orandi, lex credenda—in English, “The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays.”3 St. Irenaeus put it this way, “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.”4 In other words, an important source for the Church’s teaching is her official public prayer: the liturgy. In this column, we will examine what the Prayers After Communion teach us about how the Eucharist changes us.

In his Confessions, Augustine imagines the Lord telling him, “I am the food of grown men; grow, and you shall feed upon me; nor shall you change me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be changed into me.” Commenting on this passage, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “It is not the eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to himself; ‘he draws us into himself.’ Here the eucharistic celebration appears in all its power as the source and summit of the Church’s life.”5 Many Prayers After Communion have petitions for our transformation: may we “be transformed into what we consume,” may we “pass from former ways to newness of life,” may this Eucharist “transform us into a new creation,” and may “we, who by Christ are nourished, into Christ may be transformed.”

The Eucharist transforms us in several specific ways. The Prayers After Communion teach us that it strengthens us in our struggle against sin: “free us, we pray, from doing evil and lead us to what is right”; “confirm us in the light of your truth”; “restore us in mind and body”; “teach us to judge wisely the things of earth and hold firm to the things of heaven.” One prayer asks that “by moderating earthly desires we may learn to love the things of heaven” and so “may never be parted from you.” The Eucharist also strengthens and increases the virtues. In sacramental communion, we are “renewed with heavenly bread, by which faith is nourished, hope increased, and charity strengthened.” We pray that our reception of the body and blood of Christ “may bring us growth in charity” and that “through this help to eternal salvation true faith may ever increase.”

The Prayers After Communion also indicate how the Eucharist makes and strengthens the Church, for it is “through the body and blood of Christ [that] the whole family of believers may be bound together.” The reception of the Eucharist makes us “one in mind and heart” and brings “about unity in your Church.” “The power of this sacrifice” makes “those who believe in you one in mind and heart.” The Eucharist also increases our concern for the world. Prayers After Communion ask that the Eucharist may “stir us to serve you in our neighbor” so that we may “show ourselves ever more compassionate toward our brothers and sisters.” As we are “made one in Christ” by receiving His body and blood, may we “joyfully bear fruit for the salvation of the world.”

Finally, the petitions of the Prayer After Communion teach us that the Eucharist is the pledge and promise of our future glory. Prayers After Communion ask that, “just as we are renewed by the Supper of your Son in this present age, so we may enjoy his banquet for all eternity.” Other prayers ask that we may “gain the prize of salvation and never cease to praise you,” that Communion may bring us God’s “help in this present life and ensure for us eternal gladness” and “be our sure pledge of redemption,” and that the Lord would “be pleased to settled in eternal pastures the sheep you have redeemed by the precious blood of your Son.”

The Prayer After Communion offers a rich theology on the transforming power of the Eucharist—as St. Augustine so beautifully expressed it, changing us into Himself. Gradually we become more like Christ, more deeply rooted in and building up His body, the Church, growing in holiness and the virtues, working for the unity of all Christians, and sharing Christ’s care and concern for the poor and the marginalized. As our understanding deepens and our faith in the power of the Eucharist increases, let us “encourage one another to walk joyfully, our hearts filled with wonder, toward our encounter with the Holy Eucharist.”6

1 Paul Turner, At the Supper of the Lamb, p. 148
2 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 89
3 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1124
4 CCC, no. 1327
5 Pope Benedict XVI, The Sacrament of Charity, no. 70
6 The Sacrament of Charity, no. 97


Father Randy Stice is director of the diocesan Office of Worship and Liturgy. He can be reached at



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