This past Sunday, at the 11:30 Mass, nineteen of our parishioners received the Eucharist for the first time. They were all dressed up, complete with smiling faces that lit up the church. They certainly made their parents and extended families proud and happy, feelings echoed by others who attended that Mass.
What is it exactly that causes such excitement and happiness at First Communion Masses? Reception of the Eucharist marks a rite of passage, to be sure, but beyond that, what makes these occasions stir our souls? Is it the passing on of our tradition? Is it the white dresses and the oxford shirts and ties? Is it the joy that abounds when a group of children enlivens a worship space? Perhaps all these explanations apply, but I can’t help but think it might be something more.
The sight of any group of people, regardless of age, approaching the altar to partake of the Body of Christ, resonates in our hearts. How much more so a group of youngsters, whose idea of Communion is receiving a wafer and a sip of wine identified as the “Body of Christ,” whatever that might mean to an 8-year-old. Perhaps what stirs our hearts is the hope…that the understanding of the meaning of the “Body of Christ” might mature in these children as they grow up. Perhaps one day they will take great comfort and joy in being part of that Body, and recognize that we are all part of that Body, connected in the sacramental, incarnational and communal life of God…the reality of which can certainly stir our hearts, and our souls.