This photograph was taken on the day of my First Holy Communion. Left to right: my dear little neighbour friend Brigitte Folz, at that time recently come from Germany; myself; my little sister Donna Marie; my brother Daniel; and little Monika Folz.
A Certain Thursday in June
I received my First Holy Communion 55 years ago today, on June 4th, 1959, from the hands of the Right Reverend Monsignor Vincent J. McDonough in Saint Francis Church, New Haven, Connecticut. June 4th fell that year on Thursday, the Octave Day of Corpus Christi, and the day before the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I was far from imagining then the place that every Thursday — day of the Priesthood and of the Most Holy Eucharist — and the mystery of the pierced Heart of Jesus — would come to hold in my life.
We second graders had prepared for the great day by singing a little gregorianish hymn (in Latin!) from our “music readers.” I still remember it, and can still sing it lo all these years later:
Veni, Domine Jesu,
Veni, Domine, Jesu,
Veni, veni, veni,
Et noli tardare!
I remember the thrill and the fear of kneeling before the white marble neo-gothic high altar on a prie-dieu covered in white satin, and the glint of the large golden ciborium in Monsignor’s hands. Returning from the altar one had to keep one’s hands folded while walking straight on the white line inlaid in the church’s tile floor. The Sisters of Mercy prepared us well for our First Holy Communion, and even instructed on how to make a suitable thanksgiving with our little faces hidden in our hands. Inevitably, there was the temptation to “peek” through one’s fingers.
Adoration,Thanksgiving and Reparation
I celebrated this 55th anniversary in adoration, thanksgiving, and reparation, mindful of all the times I have received Holy Communion over the past 55 years. I am grateful to Our Lord for having brought me, after 55 years, to to this day in my life, and to this hour, and to this place. In spite of myself, my life these 55 years has been a Eucharistic life, not because I have made it so, but because Our Lord is faithful, and merciful, and relentless in the pursuit of the little ones upon whom He has set His Heart. I can only ask Him today, in His merciful love, to make the remaining years, or days, or hours of my life wholly Eucharistic. I count on Him to make me the adorer and the priest whom He created me and called me to be.