Today our holy Church carries about publicly in solemn procession her God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, that all may fall on their knees and devoutly adore Him, since faith teaches us that Jesus Christ, the Man-God, is really and truly present before us under the appearances of bread and wine. The great love of our dear Saviour found a way in which He could still remain with us after His ascending into heaven; He instituted the Holy Eucharist, wherein He is present as God and man. We are, therefore, as blest as the people who lived at the time when Christ walked upon the earth, for we have the same Christ Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist. Do not think that Christ has changed in the least respect; what He was in the days of His earthly life, He is today—a God of love and mercy. Every one who comes to H im in any need and asks with humility will receive help and comfort.
The venerable Father Alvarez one day saw Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with His hands full of graces, seeking, as it were, for those to whom He could give them. A little English boy heard that Jesus was present in the holy Tabernacle, and that He listened to the prayers of those who went there to speak to Him. One day he went to the church to pray for the conversion of his father. Going into the sanctuary, he climbed upon the altar and, sitting near the door of the Tabernacle, knocked at it, saying:
"Are you there, Jesus?" But there was no answer. He knocked again, saying the same words:
"Are you there, Jesus? They told me at Sunday- school that you were here." He listened for an answer, but still no answer came.
"Perhaps the dear Jesus is asleep; I will quietly awake Him. O my dear little Jesus," he said gently, " I believe in Thee and I love Thee; answer me, I beseech Thee!"
Jesus could not refuse the simple and humble prayer of the child, said with so much confidence. A voice came from the tabernacle, saying:
"Yes, my dear child, I am here. My love for you makes Me stay here always. What do you want of Me today, my dear little brother?" The child answered in a voice broken by sobs:
"My father is not a good man, O my Jesus; make him good, and he will serve Thee and love Thee!"
"Go, my dearest child, I will grant your prayer." The child went home all radiant with joy; Jesus had told him that his prayer would be granted. On the following day his father went to the church, made a good confession, and became a fervent Christian.
Children, that same Jesus is present on the altar in your church. He is there because He loves you, and because He desires to bestow on you great graces. Oh, then, when you go into church, kneel reverently and lovingly before the altar and say to Him:
"My dearest Jesus, I firmly believe that Thou art really present on this altar, and I love Thee with my whole heart."
It was not enough for our divine Saviour to be always present among us and to offer Himself daily for us; He also wishes to come into our hearts and to be most closely united to us; for this reason He instituted the Holy Eucharist as communion. When we go to communion Jesus comes to us. What graces may we not expect from Him! Wherever our divine Saviour went during His earthly life He left traces of His merciful love and blessings. He entered the house of Zachary and sanctified John the Baptist, who was to prepare the way for Him; He was present at the marriage in Cana in Galilee and changed water into wine; He came into Peter's house and cured his sick mother-in-law. Will He not, therefore, bestow graces upon the soul to whom He comes?
Oh, what thanks do we owe to our divine Saviour for giving us a sacrament so holy as the Holy Eucharist! How anxious we should be to have a share in the graces of this wonderful sacrament by devoutly praying to H im on the altars of our churches, by often attending Mass, and by frequent and worthy communions.
In the fourteenth century there lived a holy virgin named Imelda. At the age of eleven she had been admitted into the Dominican Convent in the City of Bologna, in Italy. It is here she became the joy and the pride of the Sisters. Above all things, it was her delight to spend hours in prayer before the Holy Sacrament, and her most longing desire was to be allowed to make her first Holy Communion. This, however, had not been allowed by her confessor on account of her youth; nevertheless, she often and earnestly begged him to admit her to the heavenly banquet.
It happened one day on the eve of our Lord's Ascension, that all the Sisters were approaching the altar to nourish their souls with the Body of Christ in Holy Communion, while Imelda alone was prevented from sharing the Sacred Feast. She was overwhelmed with grief, and, kneeling before the altar, she poured out the longings of her soul at the feet of her Beloved, protesting that her only desire on earth was to be united to Him in the Divine Sacrament. At the same moment a sacred Host was seen descending from above, until it remained in the air over the head of the Holy Virgin. Her confessor, seeing what had happened, hurried to the spot and, reverently taking the Host upon the little silver plate called the paten, he placed it upon the tongue of the devout Imelda. No sooner had she received the sacred Host, than the love which flooded her soul at the receiving of her divine Spouse filled her with such wonderful happiness that she fainted away in death—actually dying of holy happiness—and she was carried in the arms of her Beloved to Paradise, there to adore and enjoy Him forever.
My dear children, learn from holy Imelda how you ought to spend not only the day of your First Communion, but every day that you go to the altar to receive the Holy Sacrament. Happy is that child who dies soon after his First Communion; his passage to heaven is easy and sweet. If God leaves you on earth for a time, try to make every Communion as fervent as your first one, and when the time comes for you to die, your passage to heaven will also be as happy and sweet as was that of the child saint, holy Imelda.
* Corpus Christi means "the Body of Christ."
Source: Anecdote - Sermonettes for Children's Masses