I received my First Holy Communion in May of 1934. My over-all reaction to the day was that it was a bustle of joyful activity and that I was the star.
My mother put the day in perspective when she said to me that morning, “Today is a special day because Jesus is coming into your heart and from now on, you can receive Him every Sunday. But today, I want you to ask Him to take care of your brother because it is your First Communion day.” My brother had rheumatic fever which in those days was a child killer. His heart was already severely damaged. He died when he was 21 which was a long life for someone with his condition. Obviously, the Lord did hear me.
I do not remember much about the ceremony except kneeling at the altar rail and feeling happy.
After the First Communion Mass, I went home bearing a large bouquet of flowers which my mother gave me after Mass. We had a special breakfast of fresh sausage patties and scrambled eggs because I liked that. After breakfast we went off to the photographers and from there to the subway for a trip to the Bronx to see Aunt Maggie and Uncle Paddy, my mother’s aunt and uncle and the nearest thing to a grandparent that anyone in my family ever knew. We had a wonderful time there and Aunt Maggie showed me how to work the player piano.
Reflecting on that day now, what strikes me is the beautiful faith of all the adults. They truly felt that this was an outstanding day in my life and rejoiced with me through the whole day. I often think now that my belief that the Lord is beside me springs from the way these faith-filled people invited God into their everyday living.