THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, Year B Acts 9:26-31; Ps 22:26-27,28,30,31-32; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8

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1 THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, Year B Acts 9:26-31; Ps 22:26-27,28,30,31-32; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8 CELEBRATION OF FIRST EUCHARIST Dialogue Homily with the First Communicants Homily by Fr. Michael A. Van Sloun Saturday, May 2, 2015, 5:00 p.m. Mass Sunday, May 3, 2015, 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Masses First Communion is one of the greatest days in the life of our parish and one of my greatest joys as a priest. I am so pleased at the excitement and anticipation of our young people who are so eager to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. Many of you have been marking the days, conducting a countdown. This is our Catholic faith at its best: joy (feel the excitement in the air), community fellowship (look at all of us together), attentive to the Word (we just heard scripture), eager to receive the Sacrament (the Eucharist). Today we are going to focus on our children. We re going to have a little visit on the Eucharist. Everyone in the Assembly is invited to listen. OK, everyone who is a First Communicant, please come up to the sanctuary and sit on the steps. You have such big smiles. You are dressed so nicely. Don t they look great? (applause!). You are really excited about receiving your First Holy Communion. You are happy and we are happy for you. Holy Communion, the Eucharist, is a sacrament. Q: What number of sacrament will this be for you? A: Three. Q: What was your first sacrament? A: Baptism. Q: What was you second sacrament, the sacrament that you celebrated last fall? A: Reconciliation, Confession. 1

2 Q: How many sacraments are there? A: Seven. When you celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation last fall, that was one of the sacraments of healing. Today you are celebrating the second of three Sacraments of Initiation. The first Sacrament of Initiation is Baptism, and the second is Holy Communion, Eucharist, what you are receiving today. Q: What is the third Sacrament of Initiation, the one that you will receive in high school? A: Confirmation. So the three Sacraments of Initiation are Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. Q: One name for Holy Communion is Eucharist? What does Eucharist mean? A: Thanks. To thank God for our blessings. The other name is holy Communion. The word Communion comes from two root words: com or cum, the Latin prefix for with, and union : to be united with. Q: When you receive communion, who are you united with? A: Jesus, God, family, the whole community. Q: When was the First Eucharist? When was the first time this meal was celebrated? A: The Last Supper, 2000 years ago (a Passover meal). Q: Whose idea is the Eucharist? Who got it started? Was it Peter? Andrew? Jesus? Paul? Someone else? A: Jesus (and he wants us to repeat it each week!). Q: Where was the First Eucharist held? A: In Jerusalem, in the Upper Room. Q: What was used for Eucharistic food? Olives? Milk? Honey? Fish? Or something else? A: Bread and Wine. Jesus changed the bread and wine at the Last Supper, and the bread and wine will be changed at the consecration at Mass, when the priest raises the bread and chalice of wine. 2

3 There are two new terms for the bread after is has been consecrated. Q: Can you give me one of the terms for the consecrated bread? A: Blessed Sacrament, Body of Christ. Q: Can you give me one of the terms for the consecrated wine? A: Precious Blood, Blood of Christ. Q: When you receive the Blessed Sacrament and the Precious Blood, who do you receive? Is it Joseph? Mary? Jesus? Your guardian angel? A: Jesus. Q: Does the consecrated bread and wine remind you of Jesus, or is it really Jesus? A: It is really Jesus. It is the Real Presence. Q: Where is the sanctuary lamp, and what does it signify? A: The sanctuary lamp is a candle near the tabernacle, and it means that Jesus is present there in the consecrated host. This is a very important point that requires our attention. This is a fundamental Catholic belief, and it distinguishes us from some Christian denominations. While some Christian groups say the consecrated bread and wine are the symbolic presence of Jesus, we Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus. We ve had a number of factual questions up until now. Here is a deeper, more important question. Q: When you receive the Eucharist, what kind of effect is it supposed to have? A: We are supposed to become what we receive. We receive Christ and become more like Christ. We become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, self-controlled (Gal 5:22-23). Q: How much does the Eucharist cost? A: It is FREE! (It costs nothing, but is worth everything!) Q: But Jesus gives us his body. What did it cost him? A: He gave his body on the Cross. It cost his life! 3

4 Q: And Jesus gives us his blood? What did it cost him? A: The Cross again. It cost his life. Jesus paid the cost of the Eucharist with his life on the Cross. The Eucharist is incredibly valuable; Jesus paid the cost for us. Let s review how to receive Holy Communion. You don t have to make an X and ask for a blessing any more. Q: When you are in the Communion line, and when you are finally first in line, and it is your turn to receive, and you are standing right in front of Jesus in the Eucharist, what gesture are you supposed to make before you receive? A: A bow. Q: If you are going to receive Communion in the hand, what should you do next? You can tell me or show me. A: Raise both hands to chest height, open the hands face up, put the dominant hand underneath, the non-dominant hand on top. This is so the Blessed Sacrament can be handled reverently. Q: When the priest or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion raises the host, the consecrated bread, the Blessed Sacrament, and says, The Body of Christ, what do you say? A: Amen! Q: When you say Amen, how loud should it be? A whisper? A normal voice? A shout or scream? A: A normal voice. Q: What does the Amen mean? A: I believe. Yes. So be it! Q: Once you have the Blessed Sacrament in your hand, how are you supposed to move? A: Take a step to the side. Q: Once you have taken a step to the side, how are you supposed to receive? A: Use the underneath hand, take the host, and place it in the mouth. Q: After you have receive the Blessed Sacrament, what should you do next? A: Step up to the chalice and receive the Precious Blood. 4

5 Now let s make a big shift. So far I ve asked all the questions, and you have answered very well. Now it s your turn. Do any of you have a question that you want to ask me? Please limit your questions to God, the Church, faith, and the like. I ll do my best to answer them for you. (After a short period of questioning, the children return to their places with their parents.) Our children have answered these questions very well. It is a sign that they have been well-prepared by their parents, their catechists, and the formation staff. Parents, you have every right to be extremely proud of your kids. I would like to offer a special word of thanks to you parents. Our faith is the most precious gift we have, and one of our most important duties as adults is to pass on the gift of faith to our children. You have brought them another step, they reached a new spiritual milestone. In the name of the Church, and the Archbishop, and our parish, I want to thank you parents for all you are doing. And, I would also like to mention our formation teachers, our catechists, and their aides, and our formation staff, because our religious education team has done so much. And I d like to thank you, relatives and friends of our First Communicants, grandmas and grandpas, godparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, because your presence adds to the significance of this moment, and it helps to emphasize the tremendous importance of the Eucharist. This is a marvelous day for our parish. The energy in these young people gives all of us a boost. The participation of our children gives us hope for the future. The occasion of First Eucharist gives us a chance to review one of our most dearly held beliefs: the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life! 5

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