There is an old wives tale that claims if it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain the following seven Sundays. I'm starting to become of the opinion that this also applies to snow because it has snowed every Sunday since Easter. What in the world! This past Sunday, as we hurried into the church foyer amid flurries, my husband stopped and asked me: "What do Latin American girls wear at their quinceaneras?"
Laughing, I described the gorgeous, prom-style dresses traditionally worn. And then two cute little seven or eight year old girls in miniature wedding dresses caught my eye. It was First Communion at St. John Francis Regis Catholic Church.
First Communion has always been a sacrament and celebration that I have looked forward to with my own children. It is one of the Sacraments of Initiation, that clearly mark those participating as members of the Catholic community. But what makes our Holy Communion distinct from our Christian brothers and sisters?
The True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
The priest on Sunday did an excellent job explaining it. He pointed out that Jesus would often explain things that confused those listening, such as His parables to the Disciples. But when He said "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood..." (John 6:53) and there was no further explanation. He meant what He said. The only way to enter the Kingdom of God is by consuming Him through this most holy sacrament of the altar.
It really is that (deceivingly) simple. Our small offerings of bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ, which we receive every time we receive communion at Mass. This is why we genuflect to the tabernacle when we enter the church, to acknowledge Jesus' presence in the Eucharist. It is why we say, with conviction, "Amen" before receiving Communion, indicating that yes, we believe! And it is also why we wait until our children are a bit older and received the sacrament of reconciliation to prepare to finally receive Jesus for the first time.
Watching those small children receive their First Communions, with excited, dancing feet and reverent faces, it reminded me of how truly incredibly it is that we get to receive Jesus every Sunday. What a beautiful reminder of how precious this time of worship and prayer is; how amazing God's love is for us that every Sunday we literally get to receive God's Son in the Eucharist. Not just figuratively. Literally.
Can you think of a better way to celebrate another Sunday of Easter than watching young Catholics finally to participate in the greatest gift God has given us: Jesus? We still have several more weeks of Easter to go too! How can you celebrate another Sunday of Easter this coming Sunday? How can we continue to keep Easter joy in our lives throughout this wonderful season of celebration and thanksgiving?
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Happy Holy Week friends!
Beginning on Sunday, Palm Sunday, we entered Holy Week. Our week started with us greeting Jesus, waving palms, and shouting "Hosanna!", and it will end with His death and then Resurrection on Easter Sunday. During Holy Week, we have several unique church experiences on Holy Thursday, Good Friday. and the Easter Vigil. Let's just jump in, with three things you need to know about each of these three sacred days.
1.) It's all about the Eucharist
We celebrate the Last Supper each time we celebrate the Eucharist but Holy Thursday is special . Adoration is offered and we celebrate not only the Mass, but also the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper.
2.) The Chrism Mass
This is a special Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of a diocese, with as many priests as possible in attendance. During the Chrism Mass, the Bishop blesses the oils that are used during the various anointings in the coming year.
3.) Feet will be washed
During the Mass on Thursday evening, the parish priest will wash the feet of various members of the church community. The entire Mass is filled with symbolism, but this is particularly poignant to show Jesus' true role as a servant of men.
1.) There is no Mass
In honor of Christ's death on Good Friday, we do not celebrate the Eucharist. There are additional hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday so that we can still receive Holy Communion.
2.) Divine Mercy Chaplet begins
St. Faustina, a Polish nun, had a vision of Christ that explained His Divine Mercy and that it is opened particularly wide on Good Friday, when He we believe He died. The Divine Mercy Novena can be prayed at any time, but Christ (through St. Faustina) encouraged us to pray the Novena from Good Friday until the second Sunday of the Easter season, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday.
I recall being young and confused why we were kissing an inanimate object, but as I've grown I understand the beauty of veneration. We are a physical people who need physical signs of God's love. The Cross is one of the greatest symbols God has given us.
1.) You start outside
Those spring Easter dresses are lovely, but you do start outside to light the Easter candle (Liturgy of Light). Plan accordingly, bring a sweater!
2.) New Members!
The catechumens will join the Church during the Easter Vigil; receiving their Baptism and First Communion alongside their sponsors and community members. Welcome them!
3.) There are lots of readings
We read seven readings from the Old Testament that help trace God's promise of Christ from the very beginning. We read two from the New Testament that call us to think deeply about what Christ did for us.
What is your favorite part of Holy Week? Is there anything in particular you're looking forward to?