Fifth Sunday of Easter

This weekend and next, we celebrate First Ho- ly Communion with 156 children of our parish. What a special day it is for them and their  families! To receive  Jesus in this holy sacrament is the nourishment we all need to live  and grow in our relationship with Jesus. As  we all need to nourish our bodies daily with  proper nutrition to keep strong and physically  healthy, we too need to feed our souls, at least  weekly, with the Eucharist to have a healthy  spiritual life. Eucharist is the original “soul” food! So, I pray that this First  Communion for our children won’t be th eir last. When children confess that  they missed Mass, I tell them they haven’t sinned because they can’t get to  Mass on their own. That is the responsibility of parents. I tell the children to  tell their parents that they need and want  to go to Mass. So parents, I implore  you, don’t let your children become spiritually malnourished by missing the  opportunity to be fed by Jesus weekly in Holy Communion. And don’t be- come malnourished yourself!!

I want to thank the staff of our Religious Education Office, Cheryl Lohse and Jean Rehmer for all their assistance in preparing for this day. Also, I  thank Kim Harris, Cleo Hesselbach, Phyllis Anderson, Marie Reitenbach,  Chris Harvey, Rose Rolando, Catey Genc and Barb Toschak for their assistance with the liturgies. Thanks to Carrie Nadziejko and Jeanne Daill for  photography. And, a special thanks to our catechists, and parents for preparing theses children for this special day.  On behalf of Fr. Mark, and the parish  family of Our Lady of Mercy, I congratulate our children on the reception of  their First Holy Communion, and am delighted to welcome them to the table  of the Lord!

As we smile at the joy and excitement of our first communicants, perhaps  nostalgically remembering our own 1st Communion Day, maybe it would be a  good time to examine our own beliefs and attitudes toward our reception of  the Eucharist. Has receiving communion  become so routine that we forget  the reverence and awe we should feel as we approach our Lord in Holy Communion? Is the Eucharist simply something you get for yourself, or does receiving communion transform you to become Jesus for others? In recent surveys, sadly a significant number of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist believing the consecrated bread and wine are  only symbols of Jesus’ presence. To BE Catholic is to accept by  faith that, at  their deepest reality, but not in physical characteristics, the bread and wine  become the Body and Blood of Christ when they are consecrated at Eucharist.  After consecration, the bread and wine  still appear as such, but they actually  are the Body and Blood of Jesus.

As we celebrate the simple faith of our children receiving 1st Holy Communion this weekend, may we have that same childlike faith when we come  forward and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus!