Let The Children Come To Me
Throughout the school year, I prepare children for First Holy Communion. They learn the structure of the Mass, prayers, and they learn that the bread takes on a new meaning. Explaining the consecration is not easy and I sometimes wonder if the children really understand it.
Before the children make their First Communion they come forward to the Eucharist minister and receive a blessing. The more often children come to Mass, the more they learn, the greater their desire becomes to make this important Sacrament. Eucharist is one of the Sacraments that we can make over again, like Reconciliation. A few days before First Communion, the children practice the songs and they rehearse. They also practice receiving communion which is done with unconsecrated hosts. Doing this allows them the chance to feel and taste what the wafers are like. It’s very important for them to know that what they receive during the rehearsal is not the same as what they receive on their First Communion and thereafter. The appearance and taste are the same but the substance changes though the prayers of the priest and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Big Day
The closer we get to the big day the more nervous I become. Have I taught them everything? Do they know all the prayers? Do they really understand what it means to “meet Jesus in the Eucharist”? I am never sure until after that day when I give them communion in church. The once shy and reserved child proudly walks up to me with out-stretched hands, eager to receive the Body of Christ. Jesus said “Let the children come to me” and we shouldn’t hinder them! As parents we would never hinder our children but I think we should do more than that. As adults, we should do everything possible to encourage children to know Jesus. This means giving them every opportunity to attend Mass and to make sure they feel welcome and comfortable in church. It’s important to keep their eagerness alive and their desire to go to Church. After all, “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mt.19:14).