Are your kids getting ready for First Communion? Perhaps they just received the sacrament for the first time. A few years back, I started to ask about First Communion stories from grownups. Do you remember your First Communion?
I remember mine and it was a long time ago! I was in third grade at a Catholic school. We were prepared for this sacrament by a priest who came for religion class. If you didn’t pay attention during his class, he’d throw an eraser targeted at your shoulder. If you really misbehaved he’d stride down the aisle and pull on your ear. “Are you listening?”
Back then, such interventions would make your face go red and maybe bring tears to your eyes…not because it hurt but because you’d feel shame.
But back then, we understood that a person should feel ashamed if they are disrespectful and inappropriate. We knew that Jesus sacrificed everything for us. Yet, we are sinners…we fall again and again by turning our backs on Him. Wake-up calls are sometimes the only thing that brings us back (though perhaps not in those ways anymore!)
The religion class was not one that I was ever disciplined in because I was eager to know Jesus. We, the girls in the class, were excited about wearing a beautiful dress as the big day came closer. But I also wondered and dreamed about what it would be like to receive Jesus. Would it be dramatic? Would I feel different?
That’s kind of why I wanted to write about this and to get other people’s reflections. Because I did feel different. The light coming through the stained glass on that day seemed to be especially warm. I had been praying and when I looked up the light came through the window to shine a pink glow on those around me. Jesus is here, I thought.
When I received the Body and Blood, I knew Jesus was with me. So close. So loving. Jesus wants us to feel His presence in a physical way. That’s why He gave us this sacrament. He is with us. He comes inside of us!
The mystery of this sacrament takes my breath away!
So when I look around at Mass today, and see those who go up to Communion with a shrug of shoulders and hands falling to their sides right after receiving…I look at my First Communion students and pray they will have a different attitude. How can we take our Lord for granted?
I read a story which I try to share with my students about Catherine Doherty. She grew up in Russia at the time the communists came to power. Priests were rounded up. Churches were closed. Catherine remembered as a girl, that people would come to Church and sit crying. Communion was no longer possible.
As Christians are being martyred in great numbers around the world, we need to take a new look at the gift we have in the Eucharist.
I’m pulling my own ear now! Am I listening? Jesus is present and ready to speak in my heart! Share your memories and impressions, please!
© 2015 Judith Costello
Photo courtesy of Judith Costello. All rights reserved.