Today at the 9am and 11am we saw, once again, the children who received Holy Communion for the first time earlier in the summer for their 'Going Forth' Mass. It was really wonderful to see them all there, dressed up in their little white dresses and smart suits, receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist so reverently and then to have Fr. Richard give each of them a certificate reminding them of this day as well as a book written by Pope Benedict XVI in which he reflects on his memories of receiving Holy Communion for the first time.
As adults we can easily forget the initial excitement and anticipation of receiving the Eucharist for the first time, as time goes by we accept it as a regular part of our lives as Catholics and, sometimes, fall into the trap of taking it for granted. But when we see these children going forward each year it is not only an invitation for them to enter more deeply into a relationship with Jesus but also for us, an opportunity for us to reflect on what this gift of God, his very Body and Blood, is and what it means that he is prepared to come and meet us in this way and not only be with us but be one with us and we one with him.
Here's a lovely little excerpt from the book Pope Benedict wrote. Perhaps we all might find it helpful when we struggle to see the Eucharist through the eyes of a child and the eyes of faith.
"Some of you have already made your First Holy Communion, and others are preparing for it. The day of my First Holy Communion was one of the most beautiful days of my life. It is the same for you, isn’t it? And why is that? It’s not only because of our nice clothes or the gifts we receive, nor even because of the parties! It is above all because, that day, we receive Jesus Christ for the first time! When I receive Communion, Jesus comes to live in me. I should welcome him with love and listen closely to him. In the depths of my heart, I can tell him, for example: “Jesus, I know that you love me. Give me your love so that I can love you in return and love others with your love. I give you all my joys, my troubles and my future.” Do not hesitate, dear children, to speak of Jesus to others. He is a treasure whom you should share generously. Throughout the history of the Church, the love of Jesus has filled countless Christians, and even young people like yourselves, with courage and strength. In this way, Saint Kizito, a Ugandan boy, was put to death because he wanted to live according to the baptism which he had just received. Kizito prayed. He realized that God is not only important, but that he is everything."