Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Communion

Nathan will be making his First Communion on May 9th. We are so thrilled for him! He seems fairly excited too, but I think he might be a tad bit nervous. Nervous isn't necessarily bad. In fact, I believe it's better than having a "too casual" attitude. I think sometimes, I am guilty of that. I can get caught up in all the chaos that 3 children can bring to any event. The physical chaos can lead to spiritual and mental chaos as well. This is so sad when you really think about it! Thankfully, God understands our state in life and delivers the graces anyway.

Over these last several months, Nathan's preparation has included many discussions and questions about how to receive communion. Not just the first time, but every time. We've talked about our attitude, our thoughts, our deeds (both done and undone), what we wear and how our posture should be. Most recently, we've started talking about whether or not we should take our Lord on the tongue or in the hands. His teacher and the Sisters have taught the class that both are valid and perfectly fine.

There is a part of me that would encourage him to "do what feels right" to him. The thing is, this isn't about him. It is true long as he is reverent, he can receive our Lord on the tongue...or in his hands. It is STILL OUR LORD no matter how he receives Him. Personally, I haven't taken communion in my hands in a very long time. This is not because of some deep theological reason. It's mostly because for the last several years, I've either been holding a baby or holding the hand of a toddler or young person. However, as a result, I have come to really see this as the highest form of worship and reverence that I can give to Jesus. I want as little of me between He and I.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant's union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ (CCC 1416, emphasis mine).

Christ forgives, preserves, strengthens and reinforces! He does this all through the selfless gift of Himself. This is what we receive when we extend our tongue...or our hands. The priest declares, "The Body of Christ"! And we say, "Amen"...."yes"....."so be it"!!! We say yes to His forgiveness, His preservation, His strengthening and His reinforcement! For me, this is a miracle. What a gift! It is for this reason that I will suggest to Nathan that he consider receiving Jesus, at least for this first time, on his tongue. Let nothing interfere with the reception of this Holy and Precious Body and Blood....not my sins, not my weaknesses...and not my hands. Say to him, "I accept you without any reservations, without any assistance or intervention on my part, so is only you"!

Oh to have that chance receive Him for the first time once more! Thankfully, after each reception, I am renewed and strengthened. I am ready to face all that separates us. I am ready to accept "Christ himself, living and glorious, present in a true, real and substantial manner....His soul and His divinity".

How do you prefer to receive our Lord?


Chris said...

Hi Nancy,

I went back to receiving on the tongue about a year and a half ago because on two different Sundays, my pre-schooler found Hosts on the floor! It really became clear to me, that receiving in the hand might be part of the reason for this loss of respect for the Eucharist.
When my Thomas made his communion last year, we just told him to receive the way mommy and daddy do and he is fine with that.
Incidentally, our parish had a growing problem with people disposing of Hosts around the church so our pastor made an attempt at forcing everyone to receive on the tongue. It lasted about a week before the complaints to the diocese prompted the bishop's office to call and tell him he had no authority to do this.
I belive his heart was in the right place, but deep reverence for the Eucharist can be shown while receiving in the hand as well... I'm just following what I felt called to do at the time.
God Bless Nathan as he prepares for this special day!

Therese said...

What a beautiful post, Nancy! We went through this with Peter last year, and he decided on his own to receive on the tongue, and has every time since. Andy and I already do, so maybe our comfort with it helped? Not sure, but I am thankful for it.

a.f.o.o.L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
a.f.o.o.L. said...

Very thoughtful and well done post, Nancy.

Thanks for your letter; I wrote back tonight.

I have an ulterior motive for being here - if you approve - here goes...


From an enthused and self-designated campaigner

at the Cannonball Blog Award site

for the list of categories, and nominees and their sites; and for directions on when voting is to take place

Nancy's site, BE NOT AFRAID, is nominated for the category, "BEST NEW KID ON THE BLOCK (for blogs less than 12 months old).

Good luck, Nancy :) !

scmom (Barbara) said...

Nancy, My husband and I both receive on the tongue. Sadly, we are less than one percent of our parish that does. I believe that besides being more reverent, and preventing the loss of even one particle of the Host, receiving on the tongue puts us in the most humble manner possible. Like a little child we open our mouths to receive Our Lord.

I hope that you have a beautiful First Holy Communion Day.

Anonymous said...

I receive in my hands. I used to receive on my tongue, but as a result of my cancer surgery, I have a partially paralyzed lower lip and things don't always work they way they should. Rather than risk my lip getting in the way and me losing the host from my tongue, I'd rather safely receive in my hands.

I hope Nathan never loses the wonder and awe of his First Holy Communion.

Tracy said...

Oh, I just love First Communion and have so enjoyed going through the process with my kids.

I take the Eucharist in my hand, just how I have done it since my First Communion and what I am most comfortable with.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to your son on his First Communion!! My fourth child made hers last week, and she was really, really nervous too. I also thought that was a good sign. We are blessed to be in a really traditional parish and all my kids have learned to take the sacraments very seriously. (So different than the church I was raised in. All I remember about my First Communion is the party... sad.)

My kids all learned to receive on their tongue, but I learned in the hand. My oldest is an altar server and it's true that the host will sometimes fall when people receive in the mouth, but the altar servers hold their pallets to catch it. If it does hit the floor they have to stop the line and follow a strict procedure to clean it!!

Because of my kids telling me I should, I have tried to take communion by mouth, especially because I usually have to carry my toddler, but... old habits. I am so self conscious about opening my mouth, I don't open it wide enough or I forget to say amen. I think our attitude is the most important thing. How sad that people would be disposing of the host around the church (the first comment)

Congratulations again to your son!!! =)