As a first-time volunteer First Holy Communion teacher, I was excited for my class and hopeful that all would go well. Since September, I had taught the Saturday morning First Holy Communion class to a lively, eager group of 7-year olds. Each week, my class challenged me to teach the Catholic Faith well and accurately. Each week, I challenged the kids to learn their lessons and do their homework. It was a huge responsibility, one that I left in God’s hands. I knew that if I relied just on myself to hand on the Catholic Faith to the kids, I would fail miserably.
Sitting at the back of the church as Holy Mass began, I was filled with the realization that God had called me to be part of something so much bigger than myself. God had called me to evangelize His teachings to these young minds. Their parents will always be their primary teachers, but in a small way, I was part of God’s plan to let Himself be known to the children, His body, blood, soul and divinity. I became a little emotional as I thought about it all and as I replayed the challenges and triumphs of the past year.
One month ago, my class received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, clutching their Act of Contrition cheat sheets as they nervously told Father their first confession. The look of relief and smiles on their young faces told me that their first experience in the confessional was a positive one. A few of the children went back to confession to prepare for today. That’s a good sign.
In the last month, we discussed reverence for the Holy Eucharist. We talked at length about the bread and wine transformed into the Body and Precious Blood of Jesus at the prayers of Consecration. Tran-sub-stan-ti-a-tion, the kids repeated after me. If they didn’t learn anything else all year, they were going to learn about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. And they did. Quite well, I might add. Thank You, Jesus.
As the kids walked up the centre aisle to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist for the first time, I could see that they were nervous. I’m pretty sure they were thinking in their heads everything we had discussed and rehearsed in the past couple of weeks. Eyes front, hands folded, reverence, say Amen, stick out your tongue properly to give Father enough surface to place the Blessed Sacrament safely on your tongue. It was a lot to remember on a Sunday morning but everyone did well. From my vantage point, I breathed a grateful sigh. So did the parents.
God calls ordinary, hidden people to do His work on earth. It’s up to us whether we want to cooperate. By His grace, I answered His call. Back in September, I didn’t know how the year would unfold; I wasn’t sure if I could do this or if I would like it. But I knew it was in everyone’s best interest to let Jesus lead the way. It wasn’t always easy to step aside and let God work, but in the end, He got His way.
I’m looking forward to the next group of kids who enrol in my class. I’m eager to be part of their faith journey. I’m enthusiastic about teaching them the beauty of confession and the awesomeness of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, all by God’s grace.
My hope and prayer for all the children who received their First Holy Communion today is that they will always believe in the Body and Precious Blood of Jesus and receive Him faithfully and often. When life gets tough and when life is wonderful, may they draw strength and consolation from the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.