One of the sacraments for Christian initiation is the Eucharist. Receiving the Eucharist for the first time is the moment when a child begins to understand the truths of his/her faith and prepares to live them out. It is a seed of grace in the human person that little by little will take him/her to mature with his encounter with God and in life according to the gospels.
The celebration of the First Communion has always been a childhood hallmark as one of the happiest and most unforgettable days in a child’s life.
It is for this reason that we have suggested to families that they bring their children to receive the First Communion in the Holy Land so that they can meet Jesus in the context of a pilgrimage, accompanied by their closest family.
Many families have accepted the invitation, and the results of their experience have been wonderful!
We generally celebrate First Communions in Bethlehem, where Jesus our Lord was born. This place could not be more significant, and surrounded by the love of God who approaches us to the point of calling him Emanuel meaning, “God is with us.” Moreover as some of you may know, Bethlehem means “House of Bread” with which the meaning of the Eucharist is further accentuated and makes the place ideal for a child to receive for the first time in their heart our Lord, Jesus.
Some days ago a few families and their friends came to celebrate the First Communion of one of their sons. The experience was beautiful, something truly heavenly. Yet one of the girls, Constanza, decided not to receive Jesus in Bethlehem for her dad had not been able to make the trip due to work commitments. She wanted to wait until her dad arrived towards the end of the pilgrimage which allowed us to have another unique experience in Magdala. It was the opportunity to have another “first” in Duc In Altum.
Following what could have been the footsteps of Jesus´ routine in the Galilee, we climbed Mount Arbel early in the morning to a grotto where perhaps Jesus prayed during the nights. It is a truly beautiful place from where one can see all of the northern part of the Sea of Galilee, exactly the area where Jesus undertook his public ministry. As the sun came up we had a small meditation on Jesus, his work, and his love for us. It was a truly special and privileged moment.
Upon finishing the meditation, Constanza turned to Fr. Juan and asked him if he could hear her confession there for the first time. He gladly accepted and they meditated on the love of God as they sat by the entrance of the grotto and there for the first time Constanza received the sacrament of reconciliation. Later that day, once having come down the Mount, we celebrated her First Communion in the Chapel of Saint Mary Magdalene, the first of these celebrations within this chapel.