by Annie Salvador, BCBP Baguio
This is the time of year when Catholic schools and parishes administer the Sacrament of First Holy Communion to the young generation. I have many precious memories of these occasions. Especially I remember the day my third son Anton had his First Holy Communion way back in the year 2000. It was, of course, very significant for him and very emotional for me. Having gone through two previous ones, I knew from experience that despite my efforts to control myself I would be crying at all the right moments: the time when each boy would go to his parents with a thank-you kiss, the recitation of Parents Prayer, and of course, the Communion march.
I remember that I surprised myself: from the processional, when we marched with him down the center aisle and escorted him to his seat, I was helpless. I worked so hard at concentrating on the Holy Mass, but every prayer, every song, every ceremonial action would set me off. I spent the rest of the time with tissue in hand, sniffing and trying my best to keep my eye makeup from running.
What is it about First Holy Communions and mothers? It seems such a potent combination for tears. Indeed it was a deeply moving occasion, so perfect for reminiscing about this either-year-old that was once a babe in my arms. In an hour or so, I went through his entire lifetime, especially relishing outstanding events and loving him all over again.
But more than the memory quotient of the moment, I was, and still am, more deeply moved by its significance. My son was receiving the Body of Christ! He was experiencing his first partaking of the Sacrament of the Eucharist! Jesus, our Savior and Lord, was entering my son, filling him anew with Life! Contemplating this reality simply made my heart burst: it was brimming with joy, victory, and jubilation! Why then shouldn’t I be moved to tears?
As I remember and reflect I thank the Lord for granting Anton and all other children such a precious gift that he could now enjoy every day of his life. But another reality comes to me … as much as we tend to mark events like First Holy Communions, what sets them apart is actually just a matter of chronology. Simply put, outside of being the first, it was NO DIFFERENT from all other Communions: in all of them, there is Jesus!
This is so much like the fuss everyone made about the so-called “millennium’s first sunrise”. How each country’s dawn was touted and gushed over on the cable channels on TV! At that time I was telling myself: but God puts on the same spectacular light and sky show every morning! We’re really just an extremely unappreciative people, waiting for Christmas, when every day can be merry.
We have just gone through another Lenten observance and Easter celebration…complete with rites, rituals, processions and drama. I wonder how much of the whole experience has made a difference in my heart, in your heart. I have to ask myself has Good Friday and Resurrection Easter made a difference in my personal relationship with Jesus? Have they made a difference in yours?
How much we take for granted! How many opportunities for gratefulness we pass up!
I recall my First Holy Communion and how through the years, the Eucharist has enriched me. And I recall how often, too often, I received the Lord without much ado, even mechanically, even irreverently. And I realize how much I’ve been missing.
What a good thing it is that we have a God of New Beginnings! As I yield to his workings, he will refine me, granting me the gift of better appreciation. O Lord, let me open my eyes to the bounty that you surround me with, all the time and everywhere. Let me behold my children as sunrises: daily miracles gracing the palette of my life. And let all my Communions be as a First Holy Communion for me, that I may have joy and victory and jubilation – and Life – always.