The deep blue clouds were still threatening to release a massive downpour when we arrived at church last Saturday afternoon. Thankfully, the rain held off until everyone was seated in their pews, eagerly awaiting the entrance of the First Communicants.
I looked at my family seated beside me. Rosario, Angelica and I traveled down to Columbus to attend our cousin Chiara’s First Holy Communion. Between the three of us sat Great-Aunt Magdalene, Sondra (first cousin once removed) and Ronn (second cousin). Chiara’s parents, Jeff (second cousin) and Margi, were beaming from the front of church. I couldn’t help but smile being surrounded by the intense familial bond, which was strengthened by our participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The First Communicants filed in, led by Chiara and one of her best friends. The aisle was flanked by Knights of Columbus dressed in full regalia, and the congregation craned their necks this way and that to catch a glimpse of the little sons and daughters of God, princes and princesses of heaven, as they passed by with regal excitement. Before Mass, Father had described them as the most passionate and well-catechized First Communion class he ever encountered.
It was a beautiful mass. The readings were poignant and were articulated well by the young lectors. (I was a little partial to the first reading from Deuteronomy, which was read by my cousin.) The homily was addressed to both the children and the adults in a way that wasn’t patronizing to either. Perhaps that’s because it was overflowing with Truth. The priest did not shy away from reminding the First Communicants and their parents exactly what the Church teaches about the Eucharist. He even threw in (and explained) one of my favorite Catholic words:Transubstantiation. (Very impressive, Father!!)
Mass continued with the same solemnity and reverence with which it began. Baptismal vows were renewed, intentions prayed for, gifts offered, the bread and wine were consecrated, and soon the children were filing into the aisle ready to encounter their Savior in the most intimate way possible…
I was honored to witness this incredible moment in my cousin’s life, alongside our other family members. I pray it will be a day she will remember for the rest of her life. Of course, if she needs help remembering… well, that’s what her family is for! We rejoiced with Chiara on the occasion of her First Communion and we will continue to celebrate her life in Christ.
Congratulations, my dearest cousin Chiara!!