Published on May 8, 2018

Dear Parishioners of the Sandusky Catholic Community,

When  I  was in second grade my mother told me that the most   important  event  in  my entire life would happen.  It was Holy   Communion.  Sr. Patronella taught us second graders and once   said that if we went to communion with the right attitude, if we died   that moment in receiving the Eucharist, we would go straight to   heaven.

This Sunday is First Eucharist for our second graders.  When I was at other parishes, I would give out apple trees to the first communicants.  There is an old saying that “you can count the seeds in an apple but you can’t count the apples in a seed.”  Planting an apple tree is planting something that will produce.  Another interesting fact of apples is that their seeds produce different varieties of apples.  So if you plant the seeds from a Courtland apple say, each seed would produce a different variety.  So every child will be different and they will each bring a unique perspective to their baptism call.
For most of us we learn the importance of Eucharist from our family.  This year, we have stressed that the family has to be ready to support the child in this sacrament because, it is a sacrament that speaks of community and family.
Let’s face it our families and our community are the sea salt from which we came.  My mom and dad never turned away a hungry soul or a poor person.  On the farm, we hired lawyers for our DUI workers and made sure they were represented properly.  My mother has the quickest of wits and would be very direct in her humorous Irish way.  She loved the smoky, magical theater of the Mass.  She was committed to justice in a way in that she only liked honest talk.  She also leaned to mercy and forgiveness.  She had great standards, as my dad did also, but she more than my dad understood human frailty and action.  She thought that lies killed people and bled souls and the most truthful, real action one could take is to reverently receive Holy Communion.  Why? Because it could change the world.  It seemed like a mad idea to her kids but she insisted on its efficacy.
I remember the two days after First Communion and the party where rosaries and money were the main concern; a poor person came to our door in the country.  He asked for something to eat.  She told me to make the sandwich.  When I balked at this request, she said what did I think First Communion was, just a time for rosary collection and money.  “It’s time you do something for someone else,” she said.
For me and I think for most Catholics, First Communion is not just about white dresses and little kids with ties.  It is more than a rite of passage and a photo opportunity of posing with medals and rosaries and getting money from uncle and aunts.  The story of the world is about struggle and sadness, loneliness and loss, but on First Communion Sunday there is no way to stay sad long for there are these young children who are sincere and honest, who tell no lies, who hold out their hands in a correct and non-casual way.  There is also in the community people like my mom, who do not have an iota of pious nonsense in them, but have a deep appreciation of the Eucharist and sees it as a truth that makes a difference in the world.
So it is more than congratulations to our second graders.  There is an astounding idea at the heart of such a sacrament.  It’s an idea that has driven the Catholic clan through two thousand years and it’s an idea that remains.  It is akin to the hope of planting seeds and the hope such an act engenders.  It has the capacity to wash feet and bring hope and instills starlight in our hearts.  It is about love and service and faith.  It was the most important day in my life for it formed everything.  Please pray for our second graders as they receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time in the sacrament.  They have much to remind us of in our spiritual life.
In Him,
Fr. Joe