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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

051717 sta comCHARLOTTE — On May 6, the community of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish celebrated a timely ritual: first Holy Communion. Angels abounded in heaven as they opened up the skies to pour down sunshine upon 77 earthly angels preparing to partake of the "Bread of Angels" for the very first time.

The first Communicants' guardian angels gathered above and ushered the choir to fill the sanctuary with hymns of heavenly praise to warm the hearts of the faithful in anticipation of the celebration.

Parents, grandparents, godparents, friends and families made their way into the warmth of the church gilded with heavenly light, accentuated with rising scents of incense to bear witness to the grace that would be bestowed upon the enthusiastic children, who were filled with great joy.

After a brief preparation in the parish hall, the children filed in pairs into the pews as Mass began, offered by Father Patrick Winslow, who was assisted by Deacon Joseph Diaz alongside a host of altar servers, some whose younger siblings who happened to be first Holy Communicants as well.

The young Communicants heard the traditional Gospel of John that offered them the reason for their hope in the Eucharist, that touched upon their souls as they were reminded that the Lord Jesus Christ affords them the life and grace of being Catholic today and each passing day of their lives.

Father Winslow took the opportunity to impress upon their hearts with a short story as he began his homily with questions directed at the Communicants. He shared the story of the Exodus, reminding them of the Israelites who were led by God through the wilderness and subjected to various trials so they could learn to trust the Lord. And there in the midst of the desolate lands, the Lord fed His people with bread that would perish. But the bread that the children were about to receive is the Bread of Life, promised to us in the Gospel that they had just heard, filled with the essence that would lead them to eternal life.

Many of the Communicants' eyes drew up upon the figure of the Crucified Lord as Father Winslow concluded his homily, a visual reminder of their Master's trials and tribulations that had given us the great gift of the Holy Eucharist.

At the consecration, many were seen making the Sign of the Cross as a clear testament of their belief in the True Presence.

Then as the sun drew closer to its highest, the Communicants approached the kneeler prepared just for them as their spiritual father gave them their first Holy Eucharist. Full of smiles, amazement and grace, they paced enthusiastically towards the foot of the altar, taking turns so they could receive the consecrated Host dipped into the chalice held by Father Jason Christian, and graciously offered upon the tongue by Father Winslow. Each communicant made the Sign of the Cross in thanksgiving of the reception of the Bread of Life over their very hearts, and joyfully returned to their seats. With equally great enthusiasm, some gazed upon the countenance of others to catch a glimpse of the heavenly grace that was infused into their being.

Soon after the end of Mass, the photograph sessions laced the lens with endless smiles and radiance akin to angels. Surely, it was nothing less than the warmth of their guardians above visiting upon the souls of their young ones affirming the Presence of the Lord. The young souls gravitated towards the Blessed Mother and took turns to make history in remembrance of this day, devoted to the Holy Mother of God who gave them the great gift of her Son, now making a home in their hearts.

— Commentary by Dominican Sister Zenaida Mofada of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. Photo by John Cosmas, Catholic News Herald.