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I Am the Bread of Life

Every year as we approach graduation, I ask our Eighth Grade students to reflect back on their most memorable experiences as a St. Michael’s School student. Some share their joy of participating on school sports teams while others point to their time as a cast member in our musical productions. The Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast and Third Grade Pig Day are typically highlights, as is Sixth Grade Outdoor School. But without a doubt, the most common, most memorable event mentioned is First Holy Communion. For adults, we all are likely to remember that day clearly as well. Maybe it was the special clothes, or the family gathering in celebration, but hopefully it is because when we each received Jesus for the first time in the Eucharist it was transforming and unforgettable.

This weekend, our Second Grade students will be receiving this Sacrament for the first time. The excitement is palpable! They have been preparing for this special day for the past two years, learning about the meaning of the Eucharist, practicing their prayers, and, of course, shopping for that special outfit. But anticipation of this celebration extends far beyond that. Many have been anxiously awaiting this day for years, wondering when they would be able to receive the Body of Christ, just like their parents and older siblings.

Pope Pius X, in 1910, wisely lowered the reception of the Sacrament to the “Age of Discretion,” or around seven years old. He believed children at that age were old enough to understand the meaning and significance of the Eucharist. He recommended frequent reception as a way to receive God’s grace and help us in our daily lives. Pope Pius X believed, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.” Sadly, many Catholics are not partaking in this great gift because they are not attending Mass regularly. Even more disturbing is that most Catholics (69% according to Pew Research) do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; rather, they see the bread and wine as symbols, or a representation of Christ.

So, this weekend, take a moment and reflect on your own First Holy Communion, and say a prayer for our Second Graders and for our entire community of faith. May our First Communicants be filled with much joy and many blessings on this special day, and when we approach the Table of the Lord, may we be filled with the same degree of excitement, wonder, and awe as we did the very first time we received Christ’s Body and Blood.

In Mission, Kathy


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