I remember my First Holy Communion like it was yesterday. I remember the warm May day, the excitement of putting on my dress and sitting with my family, and the fact that a bunch of kids passes out during the photos afterwards. I remember the Mass, and the party. But most of all, I remember writing a “1” on my calendar in my bedroom. When we went to Mass with my class two days later, I wrote a “2.” The next Sunday, a “3.” I kept this up most of the summer. I wanted to remember every single time I was able to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. It was special, and new, and EXCITING. I was excited to receive the Body and Blood of Christ every chance I got.
I want that for you.
More than the pretty dress, and the warm family embrace, and the pictures; more than any of that, I want you to feel the Body of Christ on your tongue and know that you are participating in the most important thing you will ever do. You could cure cancer, become President of the United States, or be a mom of 18 little souls. You could do all that and more. Nothing will ever, ever, be as important as what you get to do as you approach the altar and receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ inside your very body.
That is what I want for you.
We have been through some things, my little girl. You did not grow in my womb. You were born to me, in a sense, on Holy Thursday. On that Holy Thursday many years ago, at the celebration of the institution of the Eucharist, I saw you for the first time in Daddy’s arms. I felt the Holy Spirit in my mind and my soul and even though I did not understand it, I knew I would bring you to the altar one day for your First Holy Communion. I knew you were my baby, even though it made no sense. That first Holy Thursday with you, I knew that Christ, through His life, death, and resurrection had given us the protection to go forward as a family.
This meal that you get to partake in is the source and summit of our faith*, and of our family.
It will not be easy, Daughter. You will grow complacent. I stopped writing the number of times I’d received the Body of Christ on my calendar. There were so many times I’ve gone forward mindlessly, because that’s what you do. It was important, sure, but not SPECIAL. I would get distracted by other people, friends, what other people are wearing. There are even times I went forward for Communion when I was probably not in a state to do so, and I regret those times more than anything else in the world. (That’s why you made your first confession some months ago, so you can always be prepared to approach the altar of the Lord.)
It’s not always exciting.
Except that it is. A dear priest friend prays before every Mass that we experience it as if it were our first Mass, our last Mass, our only Mass. I want you to realize that. I want you to realize that this could be the ONLY chance you ever get to receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist on earth. We are never assured of anything, and every single moment we get to experience the union with our Lord through his Body and Blood is an unmistakable gift from God, and one that we cannot take for granted, however easy that might be.
I want you to appreciate the significance of this moment, Daughter, and not only today. It’s easy today. It’s exciting. I want you to appreciate it in a year, when you’re looking over your shoulder to find your friends. I want you to appreciate it in ten years, when you’re kneeling and praying but really just watching other people walk by. I want you to appreciate it in 12 years, when you’re being made fun of for going to Mass while you’re away at college. I want you to appreciate it in twenty years, at your nuptial Mass, when the first meal you and your husband partake of together is the Eucharistic feast. I want you to appreciate it every single year after that when you have babies clinging to you, toddlers whining and kicking your skirt up, and children bugging you to find their place in the missal. I want you to appreciate it when you are sick and tired and going through morning sickness and arguing with your husband and it took everything you had to just get to Mass. I want you to appreciate it when you come forward with something broken inside you that only God can fix. I want you to appreciate it when you are preparing your daughter for her First Holy Communion.
That’s what I want for you today. And I will spend the rest of my life helping you understand it.
I love you,