It is not the First Holy Communion, but the Second that is most important…
Since my conversion last year – through Grace and no merit of my own – I try as often as possible to attend Mass with my three children (and sometimes my husband when he can be persuaded to join us on a Saturday night or Sunday morning).
In the long months since that time of conversion, my eldest son and I received communion while my younger two children chatted quietly in their seat because they had not yet received the Blessed Sacrament. These days – as we have all received the Blessed Sacrament – my younger two children join us in receiving Holy Communion.
You may think that such a thing would not have a very drastic effect on us. After all, most children receive the Blessed Sacrament for the first time when they are between 8 and 10 years of age. It is definitely a common thing! Even children who come from families who do not regularly attend Mass, will usually make their First Holy Communion with some sort of celebration with their families – a nice breakfast, a lunch, some new clothes or something.
Though it is common for children to receive the Blessed Eucharist, the effect of that reception is AWE-INSPIRING, nonetheless!
After all, these days, as we attend Mass most days we can in the morning before school, my children and I first discuss preparing a place for Christ in our soul. After all, it would surely be a terribly disrespectful thing to invite GOD – Creator of the Universe and King of Endless Glory – into the soul of a person who has just snatched a toy from their brother’s hand or called their sister a mean name. Afterwards too, the Blessed Sacrament makes a very important difference. Surely, once we have God in our soul, we must try to honour Him there. That means, we must be mindful of what we say and do with each other. After all, we are entertaining a GREAT GUEST – the GREATEST POSSIBLE GUEST OF THE UNIVERSE – and in entertaining a KING, we must surely be on our best behaviour.
Scott Hahn in his book, “Hope to Die” explains that though we welcome Christ into our soul through Holy Communion, we receive more than Christ… “Because wherever the Son is, the Father and Holy Spirit are present too.”
This is important. We receive all of God. “At every Mass, in every Holy Communion, Jesus gives His divine life to us. The Church calls this life sanctifying grace.” (Scott Hahn, “Hope to Die”).
I have been reflecting on this LIFE that we receive in the Blessed Sacrament. After all, LIFE is what concerns me most each day. These days, the majority if my time is devoted to feeding and clothing my children...
All three of my children had reflux as babies and have a little reflux that continues today. My second son had very very severe reflux as a baby and continues to have most problems with reflux as he ages. Any mother that has had a child with reflux will understand that reflux is a disincentive for the child to eat. The more uncomfortable the child feels, the less likely they are to eat, and the less they eat, the more severe their symptoms of reflux become. It becomes an ongoing cycle that is difficult to break and requires great perseverance by the parent to ensure that the child continues to eat because food is a significant part of the treatment of the condition!
There is really not much difference in what our Eternal Parent – God – does to help us to take SPIRITUAL FOOD through the Blessed Sacrament. Spiritually, we do not have reflux – it is a physical ailment – but we do have a fallen nature and we do sin and that in its own way is like reflux because SIN is a disincentive to be near God. The treatment of sin – the only treatment – is the growth of virtues and the only way that a human is able to grow in virtue is through Grace, and the best way to receive Grace is through the Sacraments – not least of which is the BLESSED EUCHARIST.
Saint Faustina expressed this sentiment beautifully in her Diary 1487 when she wrote, “But understand that the strength by which you bear sufferings comes from frequent Communions. So approach this fountain of mercy often, to draw with the vessel of trust whatever you need.”
For you see, though most baptised Catholic children receive their first Holy Communion and wear beautiful clothes and have some sort of celebration to mark that momentous occasion, it is NOT THE FIRST – BUT THE SECOND Holy Communion that is most important! It is not the first time we drink of the cup of life, but when we return to it – to drink again, over and over and over again - to grow in Grace and Virtue that means that we have the GRACE to live. For it is through the Blessed Sacrament that our soul is nourished by the FOOD of Heaven!
Scott Hahn, said this far more beautifully than I ever could in his book, “Hope to Die” “We don’t just swallow the Eucharist in Holy Communion. We swallow the Creed. We swallow the story of Revelation, the Gospel, the Deposit of Faith, every truth we profess, and every moment in salvation history. All that is on our tongue in Holy Communion. All that is in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church in every city around the world!”
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.