Bishop deGoësbriand’s fervent love for the Eucharist
Bishop Louis deGoësbriand, first Bishop of Burlington, had a fervent love for the Holy Eucharist, the reception of which nourished him throughout his life and his priestly and episcopal ministry.
He catechized his flock with a prodigious output of books, in almost all of which he commented on the Mass and the Eucharist, reiterating the Church’s teaching not just in terms of theological truths but also the spiritual benefits for the sanctification of his spiritual children.
One area that often is overlooked in the spiritual life of both 19th– and 21st -century Catholics is the thanksgiving that should occur after the reception of Holy Communion at Mass. That thanksgiving doesn’t need to be restricted to the few minutes still in church but should extend throughout the rest of the day and week.
Bishop de Goesbriand stated: “But what are the effects of receiving Communion and of hearing Mass? Peace is the blessing which the priest so frequently prays for and wishes the assistants during the Sacrifice. The good Christian returns from Mass, a better friend, having forgiven his enemies, having resolved and received grace to conquer himself. He has peace with God, with his neighbor, with himself. There is another effect of Holy Communion and of the practice of hearing Mass. The more frequently we approach the altar, the more we admire the beauty of His house. The more we feel inclined to devote our whole life to His service.”[i]
According to the holy Bishop, we should thank God for the following:
- The gift of peace. The priest bestows peace upon the congregation by proclaiming: “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” This conferral of peace leads into the Sign of Peace by which we confer peace upon those who immediately surround us and, by extension, to all those people who have hurt us in the past.
- Forgiveness. We ask the Lord in the Our Father to forgive us for our failings: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We pray not to hold grudges against those people who have hurt us.
- Healing. We pray for real healings immediately before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
- Zeal for holiness. The beauty of the sacred liturgy inspires us to proclaim the Gospel and to desire holiness. The priest or deacon dismisses us at the conclusion of the Mass with the imperative: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
The formulation of the thanksgiving doesn’t have to be complicated, just sincere. One can therefore pray: “Father, thank you for the peace that I have received at Mass today.” “Thank you for forgiving me of all my petty grievances and faults.” “Thank you for healing my soul and body from all that ails me and protect me from all temptations.” “Thank you for the desire to become a saint.”
It’s that simple, and it pleases God.
—Father Lance Harlow is pastor of Corpus Christ Parish based in St. Johnsbury.
[i]Bishop Louis de Goesbriand “After the Banquet” in The Israelite Before the Ark and The Christian Before the Altar. (Burlington, VT: The Free Press Association Printers, 1890), Part II, Book II, 105.
—Originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.