What Catholic does not remember his or her First Communion Day? On May 4 I mark the fiftieth anniversary of my First Holy Communion! It is always an extraordinary day of grace and joy not only for the first communicants but for their families! It is also a most special day for the parish community as it celebrates this sacrament of initiation with its young members!
Such a day occured this year on April 27 in our own community. I take the occasion to congratulate the first communicants and to thank their parents and catechists who so lovingly and generously helped prepare them to encounter the Lord for the first time in the Most Holy Eucharist. These celebrations are always a source of joy for a pastor and always an occasion to renew one’s faith, reverence, and love for the Lord who gives Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. These surely need to be cultivated and strengthened.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan recently wrote the following regarding the Eucharist in the life of the Church and provides a strong message to priests:
“The great pastoral challenge for us today is to renew in our people a deep faith and profound love for the Eucharist. Of all the frightening polls that we hear of these days, has any been more chilling than that of the Gallup poll several years ago indicating that only twenty-nine percent of Catholics receiving the Eucharist on Sunday believe that it is really and truly the Body and Blood of Christ? That is not due to intentional heterodoxy or stubborn resistance to Church doctrine; it is because we as priests, and the other catechists of the Church, have not effectively taught proper doctrine!”
How’s that for a challenge? How grateful that we meet this challenge in our own parish. The faith of the Church is proclaimed and taught well and with great love!