Dear Brothers and Sisters,
One of my favorite weekends of the year is upon us. While some may guess it’s because of Mother’s Day (I love you, Mom), and others may know that Sunday is my brother’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Tim!), I’m actually more excited for what’s happening on Saturday this weekend.
This Saturday, our second graders will have a life changing experience as they receive their First Holy Communion. I don’t think it can be overstated how impactful and important this moment is for all who go through it. To have the very presence of God within you as you receive the Eucharist, it boggles the mind. And yet, how I wished we could all understand more deeply the intimacy and the union that is offered us in the Eucharist.
I recognize that the seven year old mind likely struggles to comprehend fully what is happening with the Eucharist. A term like transubstantiation is difficult for adults, let alone kids. How can these children, who are still learning many of the basics of arithmetic, grammar, and the like, fully appreciate the gift of the Eucharist?
Maybe we should not provide the Most Blessed Sacrament to those so young. Maybe we should wait until they can better understand the true power and grace found in the Eucharist. Simply put, I disagree. One, even the most educated and faith-filled individuals fail to grasp the totality of the Eucharist. As a mystery of faith, the human mind cannot fully comprehend how bread and wine can become the
Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, while still appearing as bread and wine. No amount of years or study will provide a clear, intellectual answer to how the Eucharist is, it is simply a matter of faith. And so, we can have confidence that our second graders have enough understanding to appreciate the Eucharist as special and that
consuming it, helps to bring Jesus Christ more deeply into our lives.
The other argument has to do with the grace that comes from communion. Every time we receive the Eucharist, the grace of God is given to us in a superabundant way. It’s like an explosion of grace into our lives. In fact, there is perhaps no single moment more powerful in our lives of the faith than receiving the Eucharist, except
perhaps our Baptism. But the Eucharist is meant to be food for the journey, strength along the way, a remedy for those who are hurt and struggling. It is not meant to be just a reward for the very best and holiest of people.
The Eucharist is indeed our highest reward, but it shouldn’t be reserved for the special few. And so, Saturday was a happy day for me and the whole parish. Because our young people received the gift of the Eucharist in their lives for the first time. And celebrate this important moment and all the most of receiving the Eucharist these young ones have throughout their lives.
Peace and Goodness,