The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sunday Morning – First Communion – Pentecost Sunday – St. Matthew

Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. The commemoration of the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. This happened in the upper room where the apostles were hiding for fear of the Jews.

The Bible tells us that suddenly there was a great rush of wind and tongues of fire appeared over the heads of all those present. After this, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the Apostles left the room and began to preach the Good News to all the world.

Today is also a special day because today you children will receive your first Holy Communion.

For the first time, you will receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ Himself.

Catholics believe that when Jesus said the words "This is my body - This is my blood;' He meant exactly what He said - the bread and wine truly become the very person of Jesus.

When a priest says the words of Jesus - the words of consecration - over the bread and wine, they still look and taste like bread and wine, but the bread and wine become Jesus Christ Himself, who is then as truly present to us as He was to the apostles.

We do not claim to understand how bread and wine become Christ's body and blood. We accept, as St. Peter did the "words of eternal life'.

We believe as St. Paul did, that the bread and wine are the "body and blood of the Lord”.

Jesus gave us the Eucharist to unite us to Him: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me and I in him" (John 6:56).

To really understand the meaning of this, you need to think about those special moments of human closeness: your mom and dad together, your parents holding you, time spent with your best friend. The Eucharist is all this and more. The Eucharist is union with Jesus, with the Father, and with the Holy Spirit.

That’s why we call receiving Jesus in the Eucharist as “Holy Communion”.

Holy Communion not only joins us to Christ but also to one another. Those who receive Jesus are one because they receive the one Christ: The Bible tells us “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf'' (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

On the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread and gave it to His disciples, and said “Take this, all of you, and eat it; this is My Body which will be given up for you.”

When supper was ended, He took the cup. Again He gave thanks and praise, gave the cup to His disciples, and said: Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of My Blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant, it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of Me.”

Our Lord changed bread and wine into His Body and Blood and offered Himself to God.

This was a sacrifice. This was His Body to be offered on the Cross. This was His Blood to be shed for the forgiveness of sins. He told the Apostles that He would die on the next day.

That would be the bloody sacrifice on the Cross. But Jesus wanted this unbloody sacrifice to continue on earth until the end of time.

When He told the Apostles to do as He had done, He made them priests and gave them power to offer this sacrifice.

Now kids, this is why Catholics also speak of the Eucharist not only as a meal but as a sacrifice. This is why we call our Celebration of the Eucharist the ”Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” Jesus gave His life; He shed His blood for us. The Sacrifice of the Mass is the same Sacrifice which Jesus offered on the Cross.

In every Mass Christ is present, both in the person of His priest and especially under the form of the bread and wine.

Catholics believe that the Eucharist makes present the death of Jesus. This does not mean that Christ dies again (Hebrew's 7:27). But the Eucharist is a miracle that rolls away the centuries and allows us to stand at the cross of Christ.

The Mass is a sacrifice where the Church not only remembers Jesus, but really brings Him and His saving death and Resurrection into the present to that His followers may become part of it.

In every Mass His death becomes present, offered as our sacrifice to God in an unbloody and sacramental manner, so each time we celebrate the Eucharist we remember that death.

The bible tells us that "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a partici­pation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10: 16- I7).

And so we believe that Christ is fully present in both the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine and that we receive the whole Christ when we communicate under either form.

That is to say when we receive the Body of Christ we receive the Body, Blood soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

When we receive the Blood of Christ we are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

At the same time we receive Him we are remembering that Christ once gave His life for us in the sacrifice of Calvary.

Now kids, you have to remember that in order to properly receive Holy Communion we need to be aware that we are truly receiving Jesus Christ Himself and therefore we should never present ourselves for Holy Communion if we are aware of any grave sin that has not been confessed and forgiven.

It’s also really important for us to respect the one hour of fasting, that is, no food, gum or candy for one hour prior to receiving Holy Communion. We must try to live in charity and love with our neighbours.

Now you kids are very important to God and He takes special care to warn us adults about how we are to take care of you in His name.

In Matthew Chapter 18 Jesus warns us:

“……whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

And again In Matthew Chapter 19 Jesus says: “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

What does this mean to us adults who are your parents, your guardians, your teachers or your grandparents?

This warning means that as parents and guardians we have a very grave responsibility to ensure that you children are properly disposed to receive Holy Communion.

Not only must we ensure that everyone observes the one hour of fasting but we also have to ensure that we all arrive at Mass at a time which will allow everyone the opportunity to go to confession if necessary.

As adults we also have the grave responsibility of ensuring that our families do not miss the attendance at Sunday Mass.

There is nothing we can give God as a gift that is greater than His own Son. At each Mass we offer Jesus to His heavenly Father as our Greatest Gift to God.

We join with Jesus and the priest in offering to God this highest form of worship:

We do this:

  1. To give to God the highest adoration and glory.
  2. To thank Him for all His blessings
  3. To make up for all our sins
  4. To obtain all the blessings we need

In each Mass it is Jesus Christ Himself, God as well as man, Who is both our High Priest and our Victim, praying for us to His heavenly Father.

Missing our Sunday Mass obligation without a valid excuse is a serious sin and separates us from God.

When we prevent anyone from attending Mass we are keeping them separated from the Body of Christ.

As parents, guardians, teachers and grandparents we also have a grave responsibility to ensure that that which is being taught to the children is in line with the teachings of the Church.

Our personal opinions cannot and must not replace the teachings of Jesus Christ as presented to us through the ministry of His Church.

So kids, today as you receive Jesus Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist - Let it be the beginning of a life of closeness and unity to the risen Christ. Our jobs as adults is to ensure that we help you to always remain close to Jesus and joined to each other through the family of God.

God bless you

Deacon Bernie Ouellette

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