Friday, May 4, 2007


Fr. V is a way for a couple of days and Habemus Papem is filling in.

This past Sunday I experience one of the most magnificent events one can ever see. On April 29, 2007, I watched my little cousin receive her first holy communion at the 9:30am mass, held at St. Bernadette Church in Westlake, Ohio. The mass was presided by, Fr. Webber, the pastor of the parish. Although I consider myself quite nomadic in the sense that every Sunday I find myself at a different parish in the Cleveland diocese, I had never been to this Church. Although the church left a bit to be desired, with its stained glass squares, which I believe were from the 1970’s, the 2nd grade students that were about to receive their first holy communion put a large smile on my face. As I watched them process in, some carrying the alter cloth, others carry flags of some nature, and others with hands held together, I was quite interested in seeing how the rest of the mass would pan out as the guitar players and the singers sang.

As I sat the mass and fully, consciously, and actively participated, I watched my cousin sit in awe. I had been with her at other masses before but this one in particular had really captured her interest. Perhaps it was because she was with all of her classmates from school, or that she was in a white dress that she would never wear after that day, or it was because she was sitting in the first pew and felt more of a responsibility to pay attention. Whatever the case may have been, the smile never left her face.

As the host and the wine were consecrated, her four-year-old brother, who was sitting next to me, motioned for me to listen to him. He looked at me and said, "When do I get to do this?" I couldn’t help but smile and told him that he had a few more years before it was his turn but he could come up with me to receive communion. This idea seemed to appease him. The way they distributed communion to the new communicants was that they went up to the priest with their parents, bowed, and then received communion with the second grader going first and the parents following; an interesting organizational technique that I had never seen before. I lined up behind the other girls in their white dresses and the boys with their clip-on ties. Alas, my younger cousin and I watched as his older sister took communion for the first time. My eyes teared up as I watched her take a huge step in her Catholic faith and I wondered if she realized the importance of what had just occurred. I know I was rejuvenated and felt honored to have watched her take this holy sacrament for the first time.

After I received communion, I walked back to the pew with my younger cousin and he climbed up onto my lap and we watched as the priest purified the chalice and put the hosts back into the ciborium. I looked at my younger cousin and tried to explain in terms that a four-year-old could understand what the red candle next to the ciborium meant. Without hesitation, he kept staring and I heard him say, “Wow.”

As the mass concluded with the second graders leading us in song, sure, perhaps not so liturgically correct and the lyrics of the song was not so hot either, but I had been changed by the experience. It was through the children and their eagerness to want to know God more that I had taken with me. How interesting it is to see God through the eyes of a child, so pure and untarnished. Pray with me for all that has received their first communion these past months and for those that will receive in the upcoming months. My God bless them!


Barb the Evil Genius said...

My eldest had her First Communion on Maundy Thursday. It was very special.

Anonymous said...

Praying with you for them.
Sweet story - thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Sounds from your review of the First Communion, even with the exteriors (music, church building) not being ideal, that those children were catechized well and seemed to know the importance of what they were doing. That's wonderful.

Oh, and when I started reading I was surprised of what parish you were speaking. Our family has been friends with Fr. Thomas Weber, St. Bernadette's pastor, for 25 years. He is a wonderful priest who has married, baptized many in my family :)

Anonymous said...

Judy Head has for years been the director of the First Communion program as well as the reconciliation and Confirmation programs. She makes the sacraments real and understandable for the children. She has a God-given gift and works untiringly for the students in those programs to come to a deeper sense of the holy. St. Bernadette's is so lucky to have her there.

Anonymous said...

was Judy Head the nun who fell in love with a priest (Bill Head)? didn't they both leave their religous orders to get married?