The Community of Communion

The youth minister at our church who is responsible for First Holy Communion was out on maternity leave this year, so she asked if I would step in to help lead a retreat they do in preparation. I was also asked to help facilitate the Mass, ever-important group photo, and logistics on the actual day. I’m still (as mentioned in previous blogs) trying to get right with the Lord, so this seemed like the perfect way to share faith and help in the formation of young Catholics. 

Throughout the week leading up to the Mass, I spent some time reflecting on what it really means to “come to the table.” Every week, I walk up in the communion line and receive what I do not understand fully, yet fully believe to be the Body of Christ. I’m a sinner. I’m broken and I’m jaded. I’m full of anxiety and wandering thoughts. But I’m invited. Just as those children are now invited to the table, so am I. So are you. Not because of our holiness or good deeds. Not because we deserve it. We are invited because God, in His infinite wisdom, has given us this opportunity to have an intimate and personal experience by receiving His son, Jesus.

A big piece of this entire sacrament is that we do it together. We do it as a church. In every church. The pinnacle of the Mass is Holy Communion, and we walk up not individually but as the body of Christ. We walk up with all of our collective brokenness. We walk up as both liberals and conservatives, pro-this and anti-that, we walk up with our one million distractions, excuses, issues. But we do it together. And what I have found myself saying so much lately is that we have more in common than we realize. We are all in desperate need of a savior. A God who loves us and invites us WANTS us. Despite and also because of our brokenness and our pettiness and our ignorance. I happen to be a pretty positive person, and I don’t want to be dramatic but the world looks like dumpster fire more and more every day. 

Focusing for a minute on the students who so eagerly awaited their first encounter at the banquet gets me emotional. It makes me think that while they are so young and in many ways innocent right now that they are about to journey a life that will be difficult, burdensome, and uncertain. They will have moments of despair and of deep anguish. They will need the sacrament to sustain them in those dark moments. 

The day of the First Communion came and I was so excited to see over 60 students dressed up and with their families. When the time came for them to receive, I watched with a renewed feeling of joy and wonder at what this communion offers. What a gift to be able to say that we are never far from God because we are living tabernacles of His love, mercy, and grace. It was such a beautiful moment to witness each student becoming that tabernacle for the first time. 

I don’t know why I chose to write about this for this piece. I had other ideas that I preferred to write about but I felt compelled somehow to share my experience of a renewed appreciation and desire to encounter Jesus at the table. I hope that you will meet me there. As John Vianney once said, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.”

Written by the Holy Rukus