This weekend is First Communion and Confirmation. Our little ones who have reached the “age of reason” (seven years old) will receive their First Communion at Sunday’s 9 am Mass, while Confirmation for our youth will be at 1 pm.
It will be a day of celebration not just for those receiving the Sacraments, but for our parish as well. Days like these mark a moment in the life of a parish where the future of a parish is validated. A parish is not stagnant. It is not just for the adults, it is for the youth of the parish as much as anyone. How else would a parish continue to be viable? If we did not constantly repopulate our parish with our young as well as the new, we would slowly decline into closure and obscurity.
That is certainly not the case here at St. Elizabeth’s! We are growing! We have more new families and more young people growing within our parish. Some day our parish will belong to them! Someday, in the future, THEY will be on the parish council. THEY will be running the committees and activities of our parish and THEY will be the ones planning for the next generation and future for this parish.
Many of you can remember your own First Communion and /or Confirmation here at St. Elizabeth’s. Some of you have had all of your Sacraments celebrated here, Baptism, Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation and Marriage, all here in this church. You may have remembered the adult parish leaders when you were young and now YOU are the adult leaders.
At times like these, we puff up with pride as our young people come to Communion, hands folded, bowing and doing all the ritual movements, thoughtfully, reverently and deliberately. Sadly, their actions and beliefs are conditioned to a degree by what they see and witness by the rest of us. The thoughtless, sloppy and perfunctory way in which we too often come to communion will no doubt affect the reverence, and importance of those receiving their Sacraments today. While we smile and admire the cuteness of the new First Communicants, too many of us fail to reinforce the importance and meaning of receiving Christ in the Eucharist, let alone being active members of the parish week in and week out. Our young people are watching and learning from us, one way or another.
While today is for those receiving their Sacraments, it is also for us. It is a moment of recommitment for us to our faith and our parish. Let us not be the ones who rise to the few big moments of the liturgical year and celebrate with gusto only to be largely absent the rest of the year. Instead let us back up what we are telling our young people about our faith in Christ, the Church and our parish, by our actions and commitment to the people and the future of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.