March 25, 2022

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Look at the Eucharist through the eyes of a child

Sean GallagherIn about six weeks, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and all other dioceses across the country will begin a three-year eucharistic revival.

The bishops in the U.S. are seeking in the revival to call the Holy Spirit upon all the faithful to renew in their hearts a love for Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist. With such a love rekindled, it is hoped that Catholics will be empowered anew to give of themselves like Christ gave himself on the cross in service to their families, the Church and the broader community.

The Eucharist is at the very heart of the Church. As the bishops taught at the Second Vatican Council, the Eucharist is the source of its life and the summit toward which its life is directed.

The bishops were motivated to invite the faithful to enter into this revival at this time for many reasons. Studies have shown that a large number of Catholics in the U.S. no longer believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. And the toll that the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the Church has weakened many Catholics’ connection to the Eucharist.

I dare say that taking part in a first Communion Mass might fan into flames a love for the Eucharist in those who find themselves now far away from this great gift of our Lord to us.

Last Saturday, my son Colin was one of about a dozen children who received their first Communion at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis.

For weeks, he had showed a great anticipation for his first Communion. And when the special day took place, he was not disappointed.

After he received his first Communion, Colin returned to the pew in which our family was seated. Moments later, he broke down in tears, overcome by his love and gratitude for Christ in the Eucharist.

And this love is tied to a firm knowledge of the Eucharist. Father Ryan McCarthy, pastor of Holy Rosary, asked the first communicants various questions during his homily. They even included a couple about transubstantiation, the Church’s teaching that bread and wine are changed in substance into the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. The children answered these questions well.

Most importantly, perhaps, Father McCarthy asked the children why Jesus gave himself to us in the Eucharist. And they knew that it was because of his great love for us.

Having a keen awareness of Christ’s love for us individually can surely move a person to tears in receiving him in Communion.

Seeing this happen in Colin brought me close to God’s kingdom, about which Christ said, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Lk 18:17).

Sometimes, we adults can become jaded or at the least fall into routine about the great reality of the Eucharist. Just think how our love for Christ’s great gift of himself could be renewed if, by the help of God’s grace, we can step back and look anew on the Eucharist with the eyes of a child receiving his or her first Communion.

At the end of his homily, Father McCarthy prayed that every time the children receive Communion that God would help them experience the same specialness of their first Communion.

Please, God, may this be so for all of us.

(Sean Gallagher is a reporter and columnist for The Criterion.)

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