I have been teaching First Holy Communion classes for a decade. My class is given in both English and Spanish, for though most of my students read English, I want them to pray with their immigrant parents. Sometimes the students themselves are immigrants, like Maria from Argentina, who had just lost her mother, and moved to the USA to live with her brother the day before her First Communion. She had mature grasp of the Faith, and the purest of hearts; she was truly ready to receive Our Lord. When she arrived late to the First Communion Mass, I held my breath, thinking she wouldn't make it. But she arrived, radiant though nervous. A triumph after tragedy.
This class was large, and I was so impressed by their enthusiasm at being able to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I had them write letters to Him, which I bound in a booklet and had brought up in the offertory procession. Here are some excerpts, with the names changed.
I do good stuff because You are inside me and I am happy about that. I hope You love me, because I love You a lot.
I'm happy I'm going to receive my first communion on Saturday, and I want You to be the center of my life.
"I love you Jesus,
I did my confession, I am really happy because I did my confession, and I have to do my first communion.
"Dear Jesus, I'm happy to do first communion and I want to talk to you.
Thank goodness I'm in God Class to learn about God, I love my first communion, I love my dress a lot, white is a pretty color! I love you very much, Jesus!
I am happy to do my first communion and letting you help my mom getting better so she won't be so sick any more.
Thank you for this opportunity to receive my First Holy Communion. I am willing to open up my arms and soul to you. I want to get closer to you.
I love you!
What took me by surprise was how absolutely radiant the children were after their first confession last week. They each looked like they were carrying a happy secret, they were absolutely brimming with joy. They were so surprised at how good it felt to confess, and so elated from the grace of the sacrament that I was afraid that First Communion the following Saturday might be a letdown.
But how can you outdo the generousity of Our Lord?
There was a moment during the First Communion Mass when I had the feeling that Heaven was open and spilling some of it's glory down upon the altar.
Now, of course, I had explained to the children, that all the angels and saints are with us at Holy Mass, that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, but this time during the Sanctus, I could nearly see it with my eyes, and feel it in my heart. This overflowing of Heavenly rejoicing at the sight of those 17 pure souls about to receive Our Lord for the first time, which for a brief moment was revealed to me, was worth the two years of preparation.
It's a moment which I want to relive over and over again until I see it in it's fullness.