Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Memories for Henry of Your First Holy Communion

Henry is the fourth child in our family to receive his first Holy Communion.  Because we homeschool, it is up to Steve and I to prepare him well for this beautiful sacrament. We used many of the same materials (scripture, this book, this one, and this one, too), engaged in daily conversations about the Eucharist, and prayed with him as we did when preparing his older brothers.

But, Henry's preparation was different from the others in the sense that, as his parents, our own personal relationship with the sacrament has deepened significantly over the past two years since Steve has been ill.  

It's a difficult thing to grasp, the mystery, the gift, the glory of the Eucharist and how it is all charged with unfathomable graces, graces steeped in the sacrificial love of the cross.  For Steve and I, the cross of Lyme disease and mold toxicity has drawn us in more deeply to this mystery, and our utter dependence upon the graces we receive from the Eucharist naturally shape the way in which we approach the formation of our children.

As Henry grows and matures into manhood, perhaps he will remember very little of the time we spent preparing him for this spiritual milestone.  But I do hope, with all my heart, that what we have taught him is not limited to our time of study together, but that his knowledge flourishes and takes root deep in his soul through a real and continual example of love and devotion to the sacrament by his father and I as well as his older siblings.

Memories For Henry of Your First Holy Communion...
For weeks leading up to your special day, you continually asked, "How many days until I get to receive Jesus?" I loved your great anticipation and awareness of what was to come.
{Thank you to my friend, Kristen, for the great photos!}

Tradition is very important to our family, and one tradition that began with your brother, Benedict, was that all of the boys in our family would wear the same attire for your 1st Communions, the necktie being the most important.  Unfortunately, the red striped First Communion tie got mixed in with the clothes that were laundered during our mold remediation and was ruined. You were a great sport about it, though, and did not complain about having to wear something different.

This picture of you with Fr. Aaron is great! He is an incredible priest, and you admire him very much. I have a feeling you will always remember Father and the great enthusiasm he has for our Catholic faith. He is a great blessing to our family and to our parish!
On your special day, I woke up very early to decorate the house and to prepare the brunch before Mass.  Before the sun was up, I heard the faint sound of footsteps on the stairway carpet and I knew, without a doubt, that it was you who would be the first to greet me that morning.  You were so eager to admire all of the decorations and to get dressed in your special attire.
Because Holy Mass is early at our parish, we decided to host a celebratory brunch afterward instead of waiting until lunch.  You helped me plan the menu: 
Egg & Mushroom Kielbasa Casserole
Cinnamon Rolls
Cranberry Orange Scones
Mini Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Fruit Platter
Assorted Juices & Coffee
When I asked you what you would like for me to bake, you chose three things (THREE! Really??), and I just couldn't say no to your innocent, enthusiastic request. 
{We decided to make candy-dipped pretzels instead of a traditional cake.}
You even helped me do all of the shopping earlier that week, and we stayed up on Friday night making your party favors while watching the Royals beat the Twins.  We had so much fun!
You and your brothers declared the brunch to be a feast, and stuffed yourselves with multiple helpings of everything.  Watching you guys eat with such gusto is something I will never grow tired of.
Thankfully the weather was so nice out that day that you were all able to jump off all of the sugar on the basketball court and trampoline.  Even Rose thought she was a part of the party!
We don't have very many pictures of you with your Godparents, Uncle Doug and Aunt Jen, so this one is a treasure.  They gave you the chalice tie clip that you proudly wore to Holy Mass that day.
George has this very saint book and since you are always asking him if you may look at it, your dad and I thought you might enjoy having a copy of your own.  The stories and illustrations in it are very beautiful.
Granny and Grandpa gave you a four-way medal, which included a description of what each symbol on the medal means. You wear it every day with the St. Henry medal we gave to you for your first reconciliation.
A good friend of mine suggested that we give you this Lego representation of the Mass, and I'm so glad that we did!  You put it together right away, and it really is a fun memory of your reception of the sacrament.  You can also use it to teach your younger brothers about the Mass.

Because the third name we chose for you is Augustine, you and I often talk about St. Augustine and his incredible conversion story.  I know that at such a young age this quote from his writings is too deep for you to grasp, but I hope that one day (perhaps at your confirmation?) we can return to it and converse at greater length his inspiring words on the Eucharist:

"The Body of Christ" you are told, and you answer, "Amen."  Be members then of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.  Why is this mystery accomplished with bread?  We shall say nothing of our own about it, rather let us hear the Apostle, who speaking of this sacrament say: "We, being many, are one body, one bread." Understand and rejoice.  Unity, devotion, charity!  

One bread: and what is this one bread?  One body made up of many.  Consider that the bread is not made of one grain alone, but of many.  During the time of exorcism, you were, so to say, in the mill. At baptism you were wetted with water.  Then, the Holy Spirit came into you like the fire which bakes the dough.  Be then what you see and receive what you are.

Now for the chalice, my brethren, remember how wine is made.  Many grapes hang on the bunch, but the liquid which runs out of them mingles together in unity.  So has the Lord willed that we should belong to him and he has consecrated on his altar the mystery of our peace and unity."

{Excerpt taken from Catholicism - Christ and the Common Destiny of Man by Heri De Lubac}


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