Sunday, May 9, 2010

First Holy Communion

Holy Trinity parish had their First Holy Communion two weeks ago. One of our parishioners who was there told me that Father Comey actually sang the boys and girls a song.

Right away, I thought “Wow! Let’s do that at Christ the Redeemer!”

Too bad, though: Father Comey is busy today, so you’re going to have to listen to me talk instead!

But if I’m not up to singing you a song, maybe I can put a song in your heart. You heard it in the Psalm today: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Does your Mom or Dad ever give you a hard time about gobbling your dinner? We were terribly fast eaters when I was your age—with four brothers and sisters, we figured the first one to finish was the first one in line for second helpings. Sometimes my mother would say “will you at least slow down long enough to taste your food.”

That’s sort of what the Psalm says to us today. Slow down and get a real taste of what God’s all about.

Yesterday our visiting seminarian Daniel asked “how would you feel if a guest rushed into your house, bolted down dinner, and ran out without talking to you.” You’d figure he didn’t care very much. So we don’t want to do that as guests in God’s house. When we receive Jesus, we need to talk to Him.

We should say a short prayer before we receive Holy Communion and another after we come back to our pew.

Maybe you could turn the Psalm into a prayer before Communion today, and every Sunday: Let me taste and see, Lord, how good you are. I can tell you—that’s one prayer God will always answer.

Daniel also told you that I was too old to remember my own First Holy Communion. Not true! I remember it quite well, although I must admit that I’ve forgotten every word of the homily... just like you will!

But I do remember tasting and seeing that God is good—that’s just a fancy way to say that I experienced God’s love and goodness. I tasted it then, and almost fifty years later, I still meet Jesus with joy when I receive Him in Holy Communion.

Don’t settle for less than that yourselves. Take time to experience God when you receive the Eucharist; let Him fill you with joy and happiness. Let Him take away whatever scares you, whatever makes you sad.

Now let me say something briefly to your mother and fathers...

Dear parents, the late Cardinal Cushing liked to tell the story of the little girl who sat on her grandmother’s lap listening to her read the Bible. One day grandma was reading the story of how the world was made from the Book of Genesis. As the amazing account unfolded, she noticed that her granddaughter was unusually quiet.

“Well, what do you think of it, dear?” the grandmother asked.

“Oh I love it,” the youngster replied. “You never know what God is going to do next!”

I tell the story for two reasons. First, to remind us that children’s are capable of deep religious feelings and insights. We must never sell them short by doubting this. I have a non-Catholic friend who cried himself to sleep for weeks after his family stopped taking him to church and Sunday school in grade four.

The second reason is even more important—the Cardinal’s story reminds us that you never know what God is going to do next! He’s a God of surprises, and we have no idea what God is going to do with these wonderful children of yours. He may invite some of them to the heights of holiness, others to lives of dedicated service, still others to become inspirations and models to their peers.

We don’t know. But we do know what comes next in God’s plan for every one of them: to become fully initiated Christians by receiving the sacrament of confirmation five years from now.

Does that seem long? I promise you, it’s not. Five years will fly by. Use every day of it to support them on their journey of faith. Most of all, give these youngsters the opportunity they deserve to meet the Lord at Mass each and every Sunday.

Boys and girls, our seminarian Daniel said something important to you yesterday. At least I think it was important—maybe he was just daring me to sing like Father Comey did, since what Daniel said came straight from the words of an old song.

The song goes like this: He’s got the whole world in his hands...

He’s got the whole world in His hands. That’s what Daniel told you, and it’s true. But there’s something else. Today, for the first time, you’ll hold God in your hands. The Almighty God has made Himself small enough for you to hold; he’s made Himself small enough to fit your heart, without giving up one bit of His power and His majesty.

May God hold you in His hands today, and may you keep Him in your heart forever.

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