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First Holy Communion

I try to go to India once a year to visit my family. Unfortunately, because of this pandemic I don’t know when I will be able to do that again. 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. In fact, our getting to the destination is totally dependent on how we perform on the journey.

Our faith life is also a journey. When I do baptisms of 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 these three Saturdays, over 220 children 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, Dr Mickelburgh, and our teachers at the school, for their sacrifices to form the faith of our second graders in our school. I thank everyone who has contributed 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.

As our children make their First Holy Communion, I invite all of us to recall the day when we ourselves received Jesus for the first time. Where are we right now in our life of faith? Have we kept the Eucharist at the center of our lives? Have we maintained Sunday Mass as a non-negotiable in our weekly schedules? Let us recall the beauty of this great sacrament and commit ourselves to heed the call of Jesus Who commanded us: “Do this in memory of Me!”

John of Avila who was a spiritual advisor to St. John of the Cross and to St. Teresa of Avila, has these beautiful words about Holy Communion:

Surely such a stroke of love should be enough to awaken anyone from the slumber of indifference. Let such a one reflect upon this Mystery and say to himself: “It is God Almighty Who will come down upon the altar at the words of consecration; I shall hold Him in my hands, and converse with Him, and receive Him into my breast.”

Let us pray for our children who are receiving their First Holy Communion. Let us pray for their parents and their families. Let Sunday Mass become the center of our week.

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.

Liturgical Schedule

MASS TIMES

   Monday through Friday

   8:30 am - Upper Church

   Saturday

   4:30 pm - Upper Church

   Sunday

   7:30 am - Upper Church

   9:00 am - HFC

   10:30 am - Upper Church

CONFESSIONS

   Wednesday

   3-4 pm

   Saturday

   8-9 am

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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

Monday - Friday

8:30 am - Upper Church

Saturday

4:30 pm vigil - Upper Church

Sunday

7:30 am - Upper Church
9:00 am - Holy Family Chapel
10:30 am - Upper Church