Congratulations to all of our young parishioners who made their First Communion this weekend and last weekend! It is such a joy to celebrate this wonderful day with them and their families; I definitely appreciate seeing the boys donning their suits and the girls wearing their dresses! I always enjoy helping to prepare them for this special event. As their initial questions are answered, it is fun to see them grow in their understanding of the Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. Every year, I am impressed with how well they grasp the information; if I ask any of them what happens to the elements of bread and wine at Mass, all of them are able to tell me with confidence that they are changed into Jesus’ Body and his Blood.
As we see them making their First Communion, they are actually shining examples for all of us. Think of the amount of time they spent preparing for this moment, learning, studying, praying, so that they might receive Jesus with the greatest desire for him in their hearts. Even their formal clothes provide us something to reflect on, because they are an outward expression of how special a gift it is to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. What a tremendous gift the Eucharist is! May this weekend and last weekend be a reminder to all of us that we give Jesus great glory when we receive him with our souls prepared and our hearts filled with desire for him. This, of course, is more than an emotional or sensible desire. It is the desire that comes from knowing that who we receive in Communion is truly him from whom all graces come, in whom we find the highest and truest peace for our soul, by whom we are strengthened- he who is eternal life itself and the joy of all the angels and saints in heaven.
One suggestion to help us in this task of preparing our souls for Mass is to make sure, whenever possible, to have some time before Mass for prayer. Joining in the rosary or divine mercy chaplet before weekend Masses is certainly a good option. Or, if you prefer, you could pray one of the prayers of preparation for Mass found on pages 1000-1001 in the Lumen Christi Missal (red book) in the pews. Likewise, it is always a good practice to make an act of thanksgiving after Mass, which can be done in your own words or feel free to use one of the beautiful prayers found on pages 1002-1004 in the Lumen Christi missal.
Of course, May is also traditionally the month in which we dedicate ourselves anew to the intercession and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hopefully, this month of Our Lady will find us seeking her out to obtain graces for ourselves, our parish, and for our nation. The easiest way to do this is to commit ourselves to praying the rosary daily if we have not already. Mary’s prayers are very powerful to obtain graces from the Lord; after all, no one knows a child better than his parents! This is true generally, but all the more in the case of Mary knowing what is most pleasing to her son. May we entrust ourselves to Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in a special way this month, so that she may obtain for us a deeper love for the Eucharist, a deeper understanding of Jesus’ will in our own lives, and a more robust courage to put into action all that Jesus asks us to do.
Blessings to you all!