Two years of religious instruction built toward a beautiful moment when young girls and boys willingly step forward to become one with Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist for the first time.
Parishes have begun celebrating the Sacrament of First Holy Communion, having been delayed, like so many other events, by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the latest in the steps by Parishes desiring to return to normal operations. Several Parishes chose the weekend of June 13-14, 2020, for the Sacrament as it coincided with the Solemnity of Corpus Christi – the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
Father Jack Costello, Rector of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, celebrated a Mass for the First Holy Communion group of 2020 on June 13, about six weeks later than originally scheduled. Father said everyone should be “grateful to God that we can have this today, for all of our children, this special day when they receive the gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood.”
One First Communicant was very happy and said she felt different following Mass. “Wonderful. Jesus is a part of me now.”
By receiving Jesus, Father Costello said it must change the First Communicant, as it should every time one receives the Sacrament, to remember three words: “You be Jesus. You are called to love God, love our neighbor and love all people. When we receive the Body and Blood of Christ it helps to remind us of our identity – that we are Jesus – children of God.”
The First Communicants were reminded that the Sacrament connects to two important celebrations: Christmas, when God gave His Son as a gift to the world; and the Last Supper, when Jesus made sure the gift of Himself was made available to us and continues forever.
While explaining the reason for receiving the Sacrament repeatedly, Father Costello said that once they leave Church, they will begin to be drained of Jesus by a world that does not believe, and they will constantly need nourishment. “When you come back to Communion the next time, Jesus is going to replenish you spiritually. Reminding you of who you are… It is an important passage in a Catholic life. I am happy and congratulate all of you.”
Normally scheduled for May, the Sacrament of First Holy Communion was impossible as churches were closed to public Mass. Since that restriction was lifted effective May 18, 2020, priests and catechists rescheduled the Sacrament all while adhering to health and safety guidelines such as the wearing of masks and social distancing. This meant that instead of one large group receiving the sacrament together, the celebrations were spread over multiple Masses and, as needed, onto multiple weekends.
When the time came, the girls, in white dresses, and boys, in suits, each came forward with their family. The First Communicants all had smiles as they pulled away their masks to consume the Body of Christ for the first time. Following the Mass, the families came forward to light a candle, a reminder of the first time Jesus broke bread with His Disciples and the holy beginning of this Sacrament. Father Costello then blessed the candle and families with Holy Water. Afterwards the young boys and girls stood for a group picture and then individual and family photos.