Being Fed...A Communion Story

Posted by Dorothy Zajac on 5/16/2018

I was preparing a special dessert with my three year old daughter, Julia. We were making ice cream. So much thought, so many ingredients, and preparation went into making this dessert that we would share as a family that evening. Reading through the list of ingredients, Julia helped place the perfect measure of each item into the mixing bowl. As we got closer to a finished bowlful of berry surprise, Julia became more and more excited. She just couldn’t wait!

Drifting off to sleep that night, I remembered the delight of my child as her finger glided through the ice cream, making its way into her eagerly awaiting mouth. I couldn’t help but make a connection between my daughter’s exhilaration and the children I would teach the following morning about God’s most abundant gift of feeding us in Holy Communion. I wondered, ‘How excited do I get about receiving Jesus in the Eucharist? What do I bring in my heart to the altar? How do I prepare for Jesus to feed me His life?’.  I thought about the analogy of bringing a mixing bowl to the altar. Often times it is a bowl filled with my prayers of joy, sadness, or petitions. But I always know that Jesus will fill it with exactly what I need.

One of the many gifts of being a second grade teacher at St. Luke School is preparing and witnessing the children receiving their First Holy Communion. However, the preparation to help them understand the experience of Christ lived out in the Eucharist, begins long before second grade. It is within the family and throughout early childhood where children first experience God’s great love. Through tangible experiences and biblical stories of God’s generosity of creation, the child’s world is nurtured in God’s love. In second grade, we help the children understand how Jesus takes the ordinary gifts of creation - wheat and grapes - and uses them to institute the Eucharist with His disciples. We teach that when we celebrate Mass, we repeat the Last Supper, as Jesus commanded us to do…

When the hour came, he (Jesus) took his place at the table with the apostles...Then he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you. Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:14,19).

On the day of First Communion, I behold faces reflecting anxiousness and excitement. Then, in the very next, sacred moment, there is a look on the face of each child communicating, ‘My heart is filled’! To quote one of the second graders, “It feels wonderful when you make a new friend, it is the best day of my life.”

It is our hope as the St. Luke community, parents and teachers, that we will continue to bring our children to Holy Mass each Sunday, so together as families we will be fed the Body and Blood of Christ. As an integral part of our Catholic faith, we are blessed to receive this invitation to unite our lives with Christ to help us grow in holiness. We come together as a community to worship God, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I” (Matthew 18:20). The Holy Mass is our source to receive the spiritual gifts to strengthen our families. We are graced with virtues that help us to persevere when life moments may become overwhelming with challenges. In turn, we answer our personal call for conversion of our hearts to bring love and peace into our families and the world.

Let our children remind us with eager anticipation how to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. May we become as excited as a child who unreservedly glides her finger into the sweetness of a bowl of ice cream...because we just can’t wait to be fed!

 

Dorothy Zajac is a second grade teacher at St. Luke School and has been a part of the community since 2006. She holds a BA in elementary education with a specialization in Earth and Environmental Science from University of Illinois at Chicago and an MA in Reading, with a Reading Specialist, from Loyola University.

Her Catholic faith is a very important part of her life and she wants to share her enthusiasm with children. She is committed to helping children develop as a “whole” person not only intellectually but spiritually as well. She believes that every child has unique ways of learning and she helps children find those ‘best’ ways to learn. Mrs. Zajac wants her students to develop a love and enthusiasm for learning that will last a lifetime, and will allow them to develop the gifts that God gave them to use and share with the world.