Today, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, is the anniversary of our son Tim’s First Holy Communion, a day of sweet remembrance. As I wrote in the Diary in the year after his death:
“Due to Tim’s distractible and excitable nature we had
requested that he receive his First Communion at a Saturday
morning Mass with just family and his church friends present.
We hoped that a quiet setting might help Tim feel more
inwardly composed and aware of the day’s significance.
At home we helped him dress in his white shirt, tie, and
navy blue pants, and then we drove down the hills to our
little brown church in the valley. There we had the privilege
of bringing our son to the steps of the altar where Jesus was
waiting for him.
We found that preparing our children to receive the Eucharist
was a great blessing and an awesome responsibility.
To see an eager child, empty of the marks and scuffs of
serious sin, respond to the eternal invitation of Love has
been one of our most sublime joys. When God added to
our family the simplicity and insights of a mentally challenged
child, our joy reached a completely new level. We
used a miniature Mass kit with small vessels and cloths,
read the stories of young Eucharistic saints, and prayed
that God would supply our deficiencies with an increase
Tim bounced and glided happily through the Mass and
received Our Lord with due solemnity when the time came.
He posed for pictures afterwards and was most gleeful
about the refreshments downstairs in the hall. One of his
church friends, a grandfather as well as the parent of his
own special child, presented Tim with a box of three small
ducklings. Now Tim’s joy was boundless.”
In 2015, while writing as the Country Carmelite, I wrote on the feast of Corpus Christi, which that year just happened to fall on June 7th, the anniversary of Tim’s death. I thought about the supreme Gift of the Eucharist and also about how marvelously the grace of the sacrament heals and nourishes us spiritually.
“On the liturgical front, today’s perfect gem of a feast serves to remind us of the great love God has for us. Not being content to enter our world and take on the humanity of a creature, to suffer horribly under torture and to die the excruciating death of crucifixion, Christ has chosen to remain with us, to be our consolation, our strength and our joy in this land of exile. We profess our belief today that in the hands of the priest and under the formula of consecration, the bread and wine are transformed into Christ. He truly lives on our altars and in our tabernacles, leaving us no longer orphans and no longer bereft of His help, His sustenance and His comfort. How blessed we are!
I know with a deep conviction that my mourning for Tim has been mitigated, soothed and sweetened (yes, sweetened is the right word) by my daily drive to Mass; my meeting with the best grief counselor under the sun; the sweetest guest of my soul. I meet Tim in the Eucharistic presence of Christ, too, where I say to both Tim and Jesus: “I love you! I will always love you! Never stop! Famous words!” Tim’s pre-hug ritual is mine now, too. Christ gives me the hug and brings Tim, too. ‘How can I keep from singing?’ ”
Our diocese is in the midst of a “Year of the Eucharist” and we have just celebrated the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity and this coming Sunday it will be Corpus Christi once again. What joy as I remember Tim and his innocent faith, hearing the whisper in my ear on the way back from Communion one day when he was about 14,” Mom, I taste something sweet! I think it is the Holy Spirit!”