I cannot believe that today is the day of your First Holy Communion!
How special! How beautiful! How joyful!
Alas, I cannot be with you; I have other things that preclude me from being near you on this day. Know, however, that my absence is only that of the physical variety. My thoughts and prayers will not leave you. No matter what confronts me today, expected or otherwise, I intend to keep you and this moment at the forefront of my mind. To be sure, I will be distant. So distant, in fact, that my absence may be felt more acutely than if I had made the trip and partook in the festivities. Absence is often more penetrating than presence. As you and I both know, absence cuts to the heart.
And yet, do not let my absence prevent you from enjoying the grandeur of this occasion! On this day of your First Holy Communion, the presence of God descends to you, a beloved child, according to a mode that you have yet to experience. In this, the bread of angels, our Lord truly, really, and substantially comes to you. He will dwell within you, and he will establish his abode within the deepest recesses of your heart. This real presence is special.
When you receive our Lord today, rejoice at the moment of reception! As soon as Jesus enters you—as soon as Jesus communes with you—allow your heart and soul to sing! Know that your joy, no matter how great, will not (and cannot) compare with the joy that Jesus receives from communing with you. He loves you, and he desires to be with you always.
My absence today will not prevent me from receiving, just as you will, our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion. We shall both approach the altar, each in his own manner. You will have the debonair suit and tie; I, on the other hand, will have the habit and rosary. We shall be, nonetheless, directed by the same impulse of love. We shall both commune with the one and only God, our Savior and friend. I shall offer my Holy Communion on your behalf, beseeching Jesus to make his presence known to you, now and forever. I hope and pray that someday—perhaps not today, but someday in the not-too-distant future—you may come to desire this presence, the real presence of Jesus, so much so that you fear and dread his absence.
For indeed, today is the day when you receive something new. Your relationship with Jesus has become, as it were, more intimate, even more real. By receiving him in the Blessed Sacrament, there is potential for loss, as a result of sin. Guard against the temptations of the world, so that the Lord may come to dwell within you—a most-worthy house—again and again. This presence of Jesus is so precious, and today is only the beginning.
Congratulations to you, on this, the day of your First Holy Communion.
Image: Karl Frith, After First Holy Communion