Over these weeks children from our parish will receive Holy Communion for the first time.
You will remember your own First Communion. For me it was in St Patrick’s Basilica in Oamaru. Our preparation has lasted seven full years: every Sunday since before we could remember, our parents had taken us to Mass. The Church was a familiar place. The ritual was not entertaining, but it was real. As a child, I was curious. I asked questions that led me more deeply into what was most real. The one thing first communicants had to know was that this host was the real presence of Jesus.
Years have passed since then. Times are different. Most of the parents who have brought children to the First Communion programme since I arrived at OLV eleven years ago had not been a part of the parish before or after their child’s First Communion. I fear we have failed them by not communicating the wonder and beauty of what happens in the Mass and particularly in the personal reception of the fullness of God in communion.
I know that life is complex and at times difficult for parents. There are many demands on time and resources, especially at weekends. It is helpful to notice that parents who do see Sunday Mass as an essential part of every weekend are able to see life differently. They have been reminded at every Mass that the God of love is eager to work miracles in their lives. In the Mass each week they call on God to lead them (even to carry them) through the week ahead.
Take a moment to consider this: There is something deep within every human person that compels and propels us to go deeper. Contemporary living offers a range of products and practices that promise to satisfy this personal depth. But this method is exhausting and expensive. Sunday Mass is the ultimate expression of human need meeting divine generosity. How could we not reach out for this reality when it is offered so tangibly in the Mass?
You may be at Mass today because you feel you have to be. This is a helpful beginning, but such external pressure cannot sustain an adult life of faith. Listen to the deeper desire within and follow this call to live more deeply. Fleeting fantasies and entertainments may provide brief relief from the struggles of life. But in the Mass the Church brings to us the ultimate meaning of life: God is with us. We have nothing to fear.
Our participation in the Mass is the most effective witness of this reality to our children.