Well, as many of our families know, this weekend was supposed to be the weekend when we celebrated the First Holy Communion of our second graders. They’ve been working hard all year to prepare, they’ve made their First Reconciliation, and they’re ready! I know how disappointed they must be that their First Communion has been delayed.
The most profound reason that they must be disappointed is because they know how special the Eucharist is. After all the study and formation they’ve done over this past year, they know that the Eucharist isn’t just bread and wine. It’s the Body and Blood of Christ, and that Jesus is really present. They know that receiving the Eucharist is as close to Jesus as they can possibly be. No wonder they are so anxious to receive Him! No wonder they wouldn’t want this great day to be postponed a minute longer than absolutely necessary!
I would imagine that most of you can empathize with them this year in a way that is different from years past. You know firsthand what it feels like to know what the Eucharist is – and to long for it – but to be unable to receive it. In so many of the comments I’ve received from parishioners over these last several weeks, one of the things I’ve heard over and over again is how much people miss the Eucharist. Even though right now you’re called to virtual Mass and spiritual communion, we all know that these things can never take the place of the Eucharist. Many people have expressed to me how they didn’t realize how much they depended on the Eucharist, or how they had perhaps started to take it for granted a little, and now they appreciate it in an even deeper way.
Maybe it’s helpful to think of this feeling as a “holy longing”. We all know that, even in the best of times, there’s an empty space in every human heart that only Jesus can fill. It’s always there, but many of us are feeling it more profoundly these days. When things get back to normal, don’t forget this holy longing. In a world that promises that it will satisfy our every desire with gadgets, money, pleasure and power, don’t ever forget that there’s a longing inside you that can only be filled by Christ. When we remember that, then we can approach the Eucharist in a whole new way.
And so, to our second graders who are a little down this weekend, I say, hang in there. There are a lot of adults who feel exactly like you feel right now. And the fact that you feel frustrated means that you get it, that you understand why the Eucharist is such a big deal. Thank the teachers and parents who gave you that understanding of the Eucharist. Thanks to them, your First Communion will be an incredibly joyful day when it finally gets here!