Our daughter recently made her first Communion. Her anticipation built for weeks as her Parish School of Religion classes explored the Eucharist. She shopped for her dress and shoes, and she asked essential questions about the nature of the Blessed Sacrament and what to expect.
She was also a little nervous, as so many children are. I imagined the questions she wasn’t asking: What will it be like? What will I feel? Will I do it right?
Our Church makes a big deal about first Communion. We emphasize the importance of reverence; we talk about it mysteriously, with words like consecration and transubstantiation. We schedule a particular time for the big day, invite family and friends and have a reception. It’s a milestone, in the way birthdays and anniversaries are, but with the added importance of a sacrament. First Communion is a big deal because the Eucharist is a big deal.
Our Church teaches the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” Everything in our Church — the six other sacraments, our ministries and apostolic work — is oriented toward the Eucharist. It is the pinnacle of God’s sanctification of the world through His Son and our worship of the triune God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. First communicants can be overwhelmed by the mystery and importance of Communion.
Imagine our Church if we all had that same level of enthusiasm — and apprehension — every time we presented ourselves for Communion. The primary fruit of receiving the Blessed Sacrament is an intimate relationship with Jesus. “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him,” John wrote in his Gospel account.
After receiving her first Communion, our daughter was a light of joy, with a bright smile and renewed confidence. Our son had the same response when he had his first Communion several months earlier. And you know, when I’ve fully prepared myself for the Blessed Sacrament and committed to receiving it with the balance of humility and enthusiasm we instruct of our children, I feel the same light.