Little Way of the Family


Thoughts on My Son’s First Communion
May 15, 2011, 6:43 am
Filed under: Children, Eucharist, Passing on the Faith | Tags: , , ,

A week ago, my eldest son made his first communion. He was nervous. We were excited. He was very handsome in his white tuxedo.

There is so much we need to teach our children about communion. There is so much I know I still need to teach my kids. The biggest thing, I think, is that communion is not just a spiritual action. With every other sacrament, with every other ceremony, we encounter Christ in spiritual ways, in intellectual ways, and in emotional ways. But in the Holy Eucharist, we encounter Christ physically, and we are privileged to undergo a fundamental and very real transformation.

The Body of Christ

The following quote, very appropriately, showed up in the Office of Readings earlier this week.

Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. He is not speaking of some spiritual and incorporeal kind of man, for spirits do not have flesh and bones. He is speaking of a real human body composed of flesh, sinews and bones, nourished by the chalice of Christ’s blood and receiving growth from the bread which is his body.
St. Irenaeus

The first thing our kids must know – must have drilled into their heads until there is no doubt – is that this is, really and no kidding, the actual body and blood of Christ. Our culture is so full of happy little fantasies that we pretend are real (the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, etc.), and we spend so much time with TV, movies, and books that blur the line between reality and fantasy, that it would be natural for kids to assume that we are just speaking in one big metaphor.

That is a dangerous delusion. Why? Because due to the fact of the truth of the Eucharist, taking communion becomes something far more profound than we usually give it credit for.

What Happens to Us?
When we eat, the food that we eat performs two functions. It provides energy for us to take action, and it provides building blocks for growing our bodies or for replacing parts of our bodies that have “worn” out.

So when we eat and drink Christ, since it is really Him physically, and since it is real food, the process of eating makes those particles of Christ a part of our own bodies. That thought gives me the chills. Parts of my body are actual built out of Christ. My body is being transformed, bit by bit. This sheds a whole knew light on the truth of the Church being the body of Christ.

(Note: Of course these particle cease being the body and blood of Christ once they are no longer materially bread and wine, but they once were, and that’s my point.)

This perspective on the Eucharist makes me even more enthusiastic to receive as often as possible. Grace is a wonderful thing to receive, and I never want to diminish its importance in any way. But actually incorporating Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity into my own body and soul is mind-blowing. I hope I can pass on this enthusiasm to my kids.

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