In they came.
Little girls in pristine white dresses. Hair exquisite with flowing veils. White shoes spotless. Little boys in sports coats, ties, and dress pants. Hair trimmed to perfection. Faces shining from one last scrub. Two by two, they ambled down the central aisle with eyes glowing, palms pressed gently together and a final bow at the altar as they peeled off to sit with their beaming moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, sisters and brothers. The feel in the sanctuary was holy, but electric. These were our children. This is our Church’s future.
This is First Holy Communion.
But what does it mean?
The Catholic Catechism describes the Eucharist as a “sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.’”
It is bread and wine transformed into Body and Blood. It is the greatest of intimacies and the most profound of mysteries. It exceeds the notion of a “Thin Place” where the distance between God and man is diminished and grows ever closer. Instead, it is a moment of deep union between the broken and the Healer. It is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” And further, “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”
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