I thank God for the miracle that is my daughter, Mary. She gives a glorious witness to God in everything she says and does. I can see God alive in her. She has a way about her that allows her to draw everyone closer to God.
Last year, when she was in kindergarten, she longed to confess her sins and live in God’s peace. When I told her she would have to wait and prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation, she couldn’t stand it. “But mama, I have a lot of sins!” she complained. Thinking that she just wanted to visit with the priest, that she was trying to be like her parents and brothers, I asked the priest if she could come and talk to him and he agreed. How surprised and delighted he looked when he heard her begin to confess the things that were tugging at her conscience. How surprised and delighted I was, when I saw him give her absolution!
I shared this reconciliation story with our Pastoral Associate, who then said, “Sign Mary up for her First Communion. She’s ready!”
Excitement filled our hearts at the thought of our little Mary receiving Jesus while only in the first grade at six years old! We knew this was something really special!
Mary was so eager for Communion, that from that day on, when the family went to receive Communion, Mary joined us with her little arms crossed over her chest, to receive a blessing from the priest. She was always most reverent as she bowed before the bread and wine in a physical sign of respect for the presence of God.
Finally, after much preparation, the big day arrived! Mary looked absolutely radiant in her white dress and veil. She was so excited to finally be able to wear the white clunky shoes that she longed for all winter!
Great joy filled out hearts as we witnessed Mary make a throne with her little hands to receive her Lord Jesus into her heart and her very body.
This day was a cause for great celebration! Everyone wanted to share in Mary’s joy! But, before we could join the party, we had to make a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up delicious chicken to feed to our guests. Have you ever seen a little girl in her First Communion dress pushing a shopping cart? She was so filled with joy that she bounced up and down behind the cart, and caught the attention of everyone in the store. Smiles surrounded her joyous witness to the love of Jesus.
Upon arriving back home, the party was already in full swing! The table was loaded with food, the little children were running about and stories and laughter rang throughout the house.
It was a beautiful day with our large family and many special guests including our Pastor and the Associate Pastor in attendance. By the time the party was winding down and the guests were leaving, Mary’s wonderful teacher, Sister Rita and her friend, Sister Doris arrived. We shared a quiet, peaceful visit with them. Mary and Sister Rita sat together on the couch and spent the longest time together quietly looking at the new Bible Mary had received, and sharing all the Bible stories that Mary had learned about in school. Later, Mary said that quiet time with her teacher was her favorite part of the day.
Little did we know that more excitement was still on its way! That evening, we received a phone call from a man asking to speak with Mary. As Mary was listening to the caller speak, I could see her face light up with happiness. I knew this call was from someone very special. When Mary hung up, she said the caller was Archbishop Dolan! He had called to congratulate her on her First Communion. What a great honor this was for Mary!
As our family continues to attend daily Mass, I find the joy to be continuing. Every day as we get in line to receive Eucharist, Mary turns to me and says, “I’m so excited!” After she receives the Body and Blood of Christ, she practically dances back to her pew! When she gets back to the pew she throws her little arms up in the air in a physical prayer of praise and thanksgiving for the gift of Jesus within her. Everyone who sees her can’t help but smile at her exuberance. She is alive with the true Spirit of God. We should all receive Jesus with as much joy and delight as Mary does. Her happy nature is a gift from God and she gratefully returns it back to him. When Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,” this had to be what he meant. We would all do well to learn a lesson from Mary. We should all be filled with excitement, joy and wonder because we have Jesus inside of us!