First Communion 2012 – May 19, 2012 Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
FIRST HOLY COMMUNION
May 19, 2012
Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
Incidents of Holy Communion.
You have learned how Jesus promised that people who received His
body and blood would remain His friends.
Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son on
Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I
will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my
blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him. (John 6:53-56).
I recently saw that happen. A few days ago, I visited a woman who was
dying. She had had Catholic parents and had received baptism and
penance and First Holy Communion. She had learned catechism, and
had been a regular Catholic. But after her Catholic wedding and then her
divorce, she ceased to practice her faith.
But her adult daughter telephoned the parish office and asked if a priest
could come to her mother. So, I went. The mother had not been to
church in many years. Both of her two husbands had died. Yet she had
always believed in God and in Jesus Christ, and daily she had prayed the
rosary, and now she could no longer speak. Yet when I came, she
smiled, and recognized me as a priest, and then she almost immediately
slipped back into semi-consciousness. So I was able to pray for her with
her daughter, and I could anoint her, the last sacrament of her life.
Recall that our Lord promised that whoever “eats my flesh and drinks
my blood has eternal life.” So that woman, even though she had not been
to church in many years, could still rely on our Lord’s promise of eternal
There is another woman who lived a holy life and every day went to
Holy Communion. Ms. Dorothy Day (1897-1980) during her high
school and college belonged to the Communist Party. Although she
never married officially, she lived for a couple of years like a married
woman, and she gave birth to a daughter, and she regularly protested
everything. Eventually, she quit communism, and she became a
Catholic, and she received Holy Communion on every day for the
remainder of her life. She established the newspaper entitled “The
Catholic Worker.” It continues to this day.
Another famous instance of Holy Communion occurred on Easter
Sunday morning, just after Jesus had risen from the tomb. On the very
day of the resurrection, two disciples walked from Jerusalem to a village
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were
prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you
discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Arte you the
only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that
have taken place there in these days?” …. (Luke 24: 13ff.)
So Jesus explained the Bible to them, and then these disciples wanted
Jesus to stay for dinner with them. So they went into the motel together,
and “it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread,
said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were
opened and they recognized Jesus, but he vanished from their sight.”
That was the Eucharist, and by that Eucharist, these disciples recognized
Jesus. Because of the Eucharist, you and I come to know Jesus. When
we receive Holy Communion, we talk to Jesus, just you and Jesus Christ
Another famous instance of receiving the Holy Eucharist occurred in
China. There was a priest named Father Robert W. Greene. He was a
member of a priest group known as Maryknoll priests. He was in China
and there he was a druggist who dispensed medicines to people in the
area. This happened in October of 1950. The Communists took over
China and they arrested Fr. Greene as a spy. Remember, this Fr. Greene
was born in Indiana, and so the Communist rulers could complain that
he was a spy. They tried to make him confess. After eight days of
torture, the Communist soldiers said that they would shoot him and cut
off his head. Thinking that he was about to die, he managed to take the
single consecrated host, the holy communion, from his jacket, and
swallow it. The communists, instead of shooting him, forced him across
the border line into Hong Kong. So this Fr. Greene lived. At the most
critical moment of his life, he received Holy Communion.
Another famous instance of the Eucharist occurred in World War II.
There was a priest whom I knew. He came from Ellensburg,
Washington. He was a Chaplin, and he served with the Marine Corps.
His assignment brought him to a ship as the Marines waited to land on a
famous island over 600 miles from Tokyo. That island is smaller than
Bainbridge Island, about eight square miles. It was flat, and so it could
have a place on which to land airplanes. That is why the United States
wanted to conquer that island, and that is why the enemy soldiers came
there and prepared to defend it. A worn out Mountain, only 550 feet
above sea level, dominated this otherwise flat land. Fr. Suver went
ashore with the Marines, and many died.
After two days of killing with rifle fire, a group of Marines reached the
Mountain top. There, Fr. Suver prepared to say Mass. The men found a
piece of flat wood, and Fr. Suver put on the alb, cincture, and chasuble
that he always carried in a sack with him. Then he also had hosts and
wine for consecration. Now he offered Mass, and many of the soldiers
received communion at that spot. Christ in the Eucharist was brought
into that scene of death and carnage on Mount Surabachi. That became a
famous picture, with the Mass and the Eucharist at the center. After that
Mass, the Marines took a pole and tied the flag to it, and stuck the pole
in the ground to declare that the United States had conquered the famous
island of Iwo Jima. And that flag raising became one of the best known
photos of the whole war. After that, the battle continued for two or three
more days. On that famous occasion, many marines received Holy
Today this parish is glad that each of you receives our Lord in Holy
Communion. From today, you can often speak to Jesus Christ as you
take him to yourself. On all the big days in your life, you can offer Mass
and have Jesus with you. Amen.