Yesterday our parish celebrated one of the most spiritually rewarding events which every parish observes at this time of the year, the reception of First Communion by our second grade children. It has been the custom in our parish to celebrate the reception of the Eucharist for the first time by our children on the Sunday before Mother’s Day. This tradition pre-dated my arrival, but I suppose the origin of choosing that date was centered in the realization that so many of our young parents are newcomers, or relatively newcomers, to our parish. Since many of them come from other places, it seemed practical to set the date for First Communion on the day before Mother’s Day when the young parents might be entertaining their mothers, and the combination of the two celebrations on the same week-end would make much sense.
Last week we celebrated what we call a “teaching Mass” for the first communicants and their parents in the parish center. This Mass offers an opportunity to go through the Mass slowly, explaining the different parts of the Mass, the origin of some of the actions of the Mass, and serves as a reminder of the truths about the Mass which the parents learned long ago, but might have forgotten over the space of time.
During the First Communion Mass I remind the congregation that many, if not all present, remember well their own First Communion. For most it is one of the dates in life that is etched deeply in the recesses of our minds. I received my First Communion in St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Westwood. The church was newly built, we might have been the first class to receive First Communion in the church and there were five children in the class. I even remember that we went to the Rectory for a snack after the Mass, and I can even tell you what we had to eat, so deeply etched is that day in my mind. We pray that Saturday will be just such a day for our children, and we ask all to pray that God will watch over these new communicants to keep them from harm and help them to walk closely in the footsteps of the Lord as they advance in age and grace before God and all they meet during their lives.
Fr John R. Mulvehill