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First Holy Communion 2018

As you know, I try to go to India once a year to visit my family. Even though I look forward to spending time with all my relatives, I am not too excited about the trip itself. The very thought of sitting on a plane for 21 hours exhausts me. I also worry about security, immigration and customs. I wonder whether my luggage will end up in a different continent from me. I prefer to get to my destination quickly and forget completely about the journey itself.

 

If you think about it, life is a journey. Sometimes we may be more concerned about getting to our destination (God, heaven) that we may ignore the journey itself. It is important that we cherish the travel as much as getting to our final destination. This is why I love road trips. On a road trip being on the road with your loved ones is part of the fun. We must remember that our getting to the destination (heaven) is totally dependent on how we perform on the journey (this life).

Our faith life is also a journey. When I baptize babies – which I love to do – I remind the parents that the child has begun a lifelong journey. The baby has been adopted into the family of God and now it must strive to grow more and more into the image of Jesus. If you look at the rituals of the baptism, you will find that the image of journey is embedded into the ceremony. The parents and godparents are presented with the lit baptismal candle and asked to keep the flame of faith alive. The baptized individual is encouraged to bring their burning faith when they meet the Lord at the end of their lives. In the same way, the pall that is placed on the casket at the funeral Mass is a reminder of the baptismal garment that was placed on the baby after baptism. It symbolizes the individual’s successful completion of their journey of faith.

In our journey of faith we cross many milestones. One of those principal milestones is our First Holy Communion. By admitting the child to the Table of the Eucharist, we say that the child can be fed solid food. It can be nourished with the Body and Blood of Christ. By bringing their child to the Table, the parents are fulfilling the promise they made at the child’s baptism. They are also committing themselves to continue to nurture their child’s faith life by bringing him/her every Sunday to the Eucharist.

Over the next two weekends almost 200 second-graders will receive the Lord in the Eucharist for the first time. I congratulate each and every one of them on this very significant step in their faith journey. They have been assisted in this endeavor by their parents who are their first teachers of the faith. I thank the parents for everything they do for the faith life of their children. I want to thank in a special way, Anna Mae Parkhill, our DRE, and her many volunteer catechists who have prepared our First Communicants. My thanks go to our principal, Mary Therese Iacopelli, and our teachers at the school, for their sacrifices to form the faith of our second graders. I thank everyone who contributes in any way to make the celebration of this great sacrament a meaningful and prayerful experience for our children and for the entire parish.

When I distribute Holy Communion for the first time to a child, I whisper in the child’s ear: “Make sure that Jesus becomes your best friend!” Once a child has received the Lord, he/she has to realize that Jesus must become his/her dear friend. He will always be there to support, to sustain, and to comfort. The child can always turn to the Lord for anything. We need to encourage our communicants to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus.

The Eucharist does not make sense without faith. It is faith that changes everything. As the great St Thomas Aquinas wrote in the beautiful hymn, Pange Lingua: “Faith for all defects supplying, where the feeble sense fail.” The Catholic Church down the centuries has always taught that the Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This is not a symbol; it is not an allegory. That is why when we receive the Eucharist, we say, “Amen!” We submit in utter belief. That is why we fast from food and drink (except water) for at least an hour before receiving Holy Communion. Do all Catholics believe fully the mystery of the Eucharist, that it is the Body and Blood of Christ?

Let us heed the call of Pope John Paul II who encouraged Catholics to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. In his letter to priests, Dominicae Coenae, the Holy Father wrote: “The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic worship. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith.”

Let us pray for our children who are receiving their First Holy Communion. Let us pray for their parents and their families. Let us give thanks to the Eucharistic Lord by welcoming Him into our hearts and our lives.

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Sunday

7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church

Saturday

8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel