This past weekend was officially “First Communion Weekend” at our house. It’s a date we’ve had circled on the calendar for months. There were lots of preparations—the clothes, the party afterward, the invitations, the family travel schedules and, of course, the Sacramental preparation.
During the homily, our priest emphatically and lovingly said these words: “Don’t let your children’s first communion be their last.” He went on to share how we come to the house of God—“Jesus school”—to know our Father. We learn to pray, we learn to build community, we learn to trust in God’s plan for our lives. We don’t get that when we drop in occasionally at Mass.
In other words, every Sunday counts.
I’ll freely admit. I was feeling a little smug. We bring our children to Mass every weekend. We make all the Holy Days of Obligation, send our children to Catholic school and do all the things a Catholic family “should” do. Surely he wasn’t speaking to our family. After the homily, Fr. Danny moved to the most important part of the day, First Eucharist, and I could feel my emotion bubbling just under the surface.
My daughter walked the aisle to receive her First Communion. Her veil bounced behind her, the heels of her shoes clicked on the tile, she bowed and then happily held out her hands to the priest to receive the Body of Christ. There fell one tear from my eye.
And then something happened in the Mass that was completely unexpected. Something changed my heart from one of obligation to one of love.
The line for the cup was becoming increasingly long with just one cup minister. Our parish’s seminarian called another Eucharistic Minister from behind the altar to step in and assist. That cup minister happened to be my husband. And my daughter was next in line.
I could see it. Well, sort of, amid my many tears now freely falling from my eyes. My husband was holding back his own emotion and with as much love as I’ve ever seen, he proudly said, “The Blood of Christ,” to his own daughter and held out the cup.
You see, what we do in our families must be done with love. In all things, love. The greatest of these, is love. God, is love. The torrent of Scripture referring to love was all I could hear. All I could see. In that most precious of moments, I finally learned my own lesson.
As parents, we have an obligation to love our children with so much zeal and fervor that we can’t help but be drawn to Mass. To the Eucharist. We can’t help but immerse ourselves in ministries, in communities, in parish life. It’s what we’re called to do.
If you’ve been away from the church a while, or if one of your children just received a Sacrament of Initiation—baptism, Eucharist, confirmation—dive in and discover God’s love. He’s just a trip to the altar away.