This Sunday is an exciting day for some of the youngest members of our parishes and their families. Our second graders are receiving for the first time the sacrament of Holy Communion. They have been devoting much of this year preparing for what hopefully will be the first of many, many occasions when they receive Jesus at Mass. Like many of you, I still remember the first time I did. I couldn’t explain how Jesus was truly present in the consecrated Host, but knew it was Him. It was very simple for me, and three words said everything that needed to be said: It is Jesus!
My reasoning was that if God could become man, and if God could speak through the burning bush that doesn’t really burn, then God could make Himself present in and through the consecrated host at Mass. It was obvious to me even at a young age that God wants to be close to His people, and Holy Communion was the most special way He does that. Please pray that all Catholics, especially our second graders, will grow in their love and understanding of this great sacrament. Pray that more of our own parishioners will understand it is not bread and wine that we receive in Holy Communion, but instead the crucified, risen Christ.
Part of their preparation for this sacrament was helping them understand how to be properly prepared. They have been taught to fast beforehand, not have gum in their mouth during Mass, and how to fold their hands. But even more, they have been taught the importance of going to the sacrament of Confession often, especially if they have committed serious sin. Young children don’t have to be too concerned about this, but teenagers and up do. God reminds us that whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Cor 11:27)
Additionally, when we come forward during Mass to receive Holy Communion, what we receive in the form of the Consecrated Host is exactly the same as the Consecrated Wine in the chalice. In each of these, it is the same sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The only difference between the two is the outward appearance. In each form of Holy Communion, it is the crucified, risen Christ who is present for us. He desires we draw near to Him and become like Him. The first step we must take is truly believing His real presence in this wonderful sacrament. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted before, during, or after receiving Holy Communion. That is the time for the deepest intimacy with Jesus!
If you are not doing so already, please remember to pray the rosary during this month of May. The Blessed Virgin Mary asked us to do so many years ago. In doing so, we bring God’s grace upon this world as we meditate on the most important moments of Jesus’ life. Before you start the rosary, ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you in your meditation!