Approaching the big day, my daughter started her countdown. “Mom, this is the last Sunday that I won’t be able to receive Communion.” “Dad, this is the last school mass when I won’t be able to receive Communion.” So was the week leading up to her First Holy Communion. We had “been there, done that” with our older two and figured we were old pros at what needed to be done for the day to go smoothly. Dress? Katie wanted to wear her “birthday buddy” and aunt’s dress, so… check. Hair? Curled and sprayed. Veil? Came with the dress. Shoes? Quick stop at the store to find the “perfect” ones. Banner for our pew? We are using the same one with all the children and having each one add a little something for their personal touch. Check and double check. The night before, we made sure the camera batteries were charged. Finally, a family picture with all eight of us (no judging – Nicholas is only 13 months old!)! We talked about the sacredness of the sacrament and how special it was that she was able to join us at the table of our Lord now. Sometimes that is lost in the preparation and planning for the “perfect day” though.
The day dawned sunny and warm with only a slight breeze. We made it to the church early. No, really, we arrived early! As she walked up to receive Jesus for the first time in the Eucharist, I got teary. Not because she looked like such a little lady, but because I was remembering how recently it seemed that we had watched our older two do the same thing. The same older two that now are taller and nearly as tall as I am. Gone are their “little kid” looks.
I remembered when Grace made her first communion two years ago. She did not do a countdown. She was too worried about tripping when she did her reading or when she walked up to receive. Afterward though? She counted each time she was able to receive. By the end of the first week, I remember her calling her friend and telling her that she had already gotten to receive communion FOUR times. Oh my! She was so excited!
When Jack made his first communion, his thoughts turned directly to being an altar server. When could he start training?
Each of them had a slightly different focus, but each of them knew what a blessed sacrament they received and could continue to receive in physically receiving our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist.
The Monday after First Holy Communion, our school and church celebrate by inviting the parents of the communicants to come to all-school mass and a special breakfast. Father’s homily is very similar each time (having heard it three times now 🙂 ). I am very happy about that fact. He invites members of our church community to attend this mass so that they can say what year they made their first communion. I think the oldest one this year made it in 1934!! His point in asking is that Jesus invited each of these people to make their first communion years ago. They did, but that wasn’t all. That wasn’t the end. That was the beginning! Jesus invites us to keep coming to the table; not to turn away; not to say maybe next week. He wants us all, as often as we are able.
While each person had a slightly different focus, the joy emanating at receiving our Lord was the same. Whether it be my first or second or if the number of times I have received communion is too numerous to count, I want that joy. It is easy to be lost in corralling toddlers in the line or tired from a restless night of sleep by the baby. May the sacred sacrament always be at the forefront of our minds as we go forward to receive communion and may the joy of receiving our Lord in the Eucharist always be as it was that first time.
We are so blessed to share in a Faith where we are able to receive our Lord every day if we make ourselves available to Him. He is always here for us. Always. We do not have a Lord who once was here and is now in a book. We believe in one LIVING God, who is physically present at each and every mass. Praise God!
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20