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June 9, 2013

Shelli had spent the whole 8 months preparing the second grade children for their first Communion, stressing the solemnity and importance of this sacrament. Much to her irritation, during Mass on the big day, one boy in the front row was talking and giggling nonstop. Finally, unable to put up with it any longer, she whispered to her daughter seated next to her, "Please go up there and tell that one he's done enough talking and had better stop, right now!"

Without question, the girl rose and walked to the surprised priest in the middle of his sermon: “Father Philip, mom said you have done enough talking and better shut up!

This year we have 75 children receiving the Holy Communion for the first time. We thank God for leading them here. Besides parents many grandparents and siblings came for the celebrations last weekend. Just before Mass, someone approached me asking, “Where do these people come from?” I answered that they were relatives of the first communicants. Then a comment came out: “We offer them first Holy Communion and we won’t see them again until their wedding day, if they ever get married in the church!”

After Mass I got another comment, “These children didn’t know what to do at Mass, didn’t know how to receive Communion, didn’t pray after receiving Communion, they talked to each other and did not take Communion seriously at all, why should we allow them to receive the Holy Communion!”

These two comments have stayed with me from last weekend until now! Do you have children? When they were babies, did you feed them? Yes, you did even though they did not know anything about what they were eating or drinking. Foods still do the job! The Holy Eucharist is the Lord Jesus but it is also grace, blessing and especially nourishment. Jesus said, ``I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever and the bread that I will give for the world is my flesh.`` (Jn 6:51)

The Eucharist as food explains why the Ukrainian Catholic Church and many other Eastern Catholic Churches give the baby Holy Communion at the same time with Baptism. While talking about the Eucharist as food, I have a question for you: How many times a day do you eat the ordinary food? 3, 4, 5? At the same time, many of our Catholic brothers and sisters do not eat often enough this special food Jesus offers to us. Sometime ago I read the story of the Blessed Alexandrina da Costa(1904-1955) who lived in Portugal.On Holy Saturday of 1918, while Alexandrina, her sister Deolinda and a young apprentice were busily sewing, three men violently entered their home and attempted to sexually violate them. To preserve her purity, Alexandrina jumped from a window, falling four metres to the ground.

Her injuries were numerous, and the doctors diagnosed her condition as "irreversible": it was predicted the partial paralysis that she suffered would only get worse.

Until age nineteen Alexandrina was still able to "drag herself" to church where, hunched over, she would remain in prayer, to the great amazement and edification of her fellow parishioners. With her paralysis and pain worsening however, she was eventually forced to remain in bed, and from April 14, 1925 until her death – that is approximately 30 years - she would remain bedridden and completely paralyzed.

While bedridden she began to receive extraordinary mystical graces, and she was eventually called to be a victim soul, that is, to suffer in union with Jesus for the conversion of sinners. On Thursday nights into Friday afternoon, the Passion of Jesus was mystically re-lived each week in and through her, for the conversion of souls.

On March 27, 1942 in a blaze of agony and adoring love, Alexandrina cried out to Jesus in the tabernacle of the nearby church, "Oh my Eucharistic Love, I cannot live without you! Oh Jesus, transform me into your Eucharist! Mother, my dearest Mother, I wish to be of Jesus, I wish to be entirely yours!" And deep within her soul she heard Jesus’ reply:

"You will not take food again on earth. Your food will be my Flesh; your blood will be my Divine Blood, your life will be my Life. You receive it from me when I unite my Heart to your heart. Do not fear, my daughter. You will not be crucified any more as in the past .... And now a new trial awaits you, which will be the most painful of all. But in the end I will carry you to Heaven and the Holy Mother will accompany you."

On March 27, 1942 Alexandrina began an absolute fast which was to last more than thirteen years until her death, her sole nourishment being Holy Communion which she received with deep devotion every morning. Initially she would vomit any food that she attempted to eat, and since she herself did not understand the grace at first, she like others thought her end was near, because obviously one cannot normally live without food for very long, but God had another plan for her to prove that the Holy Communion could nourish her physical life also.

We pray for our children, with the intercession of the Blessed Alexandrina, they may love the Lord in the Eucharist more. We pray for their families too that they will support their children to build relationship with the Lord in the Eucharist. We pray that the Holy Eucharist will make us a family of love and care to support each other and to help each other on the journey of earthly life toward the life in heaven with God.