Thursday, 15 September 2016



VI. But thanks be to the Eucharist! In allowing children to approach, It draws them to a Christian life and makes perseverance easier.

In truth the first communion extends over the whole life its supreme and beneficent influence; and, provided that pious and skilful hands know how to keep up in the soul of the child the sacred fire with which it then burns, this holy fire will never be extinguished in it. When God gives Himself for the first time to the child, He is prodigal of His gifts, but He does not exhaust them. Shall I tell you, O Christian soul, what makes me love the first communion ? It is because it is the first, and that other communions will follow it. Each one adds more light to the mind, more piety to the heart, more energy to the will. The child sees, it is true, a path long and difficult open out before his feet, but if the simple desire of making his first communion well, protected him in his early years, will not the communions which follow the first guard his youth ?

The author of the Book of Proverbs has said: "A young man according to his way, even when he is old he will not depart from it." The way of a young Christian is that into which the God of the Eucharist has led him on the day of his first communion. Happy way, where one runs because the Eucharist draws us on by the sweetness of Its perfumes! The young man will follow it all his life, and, arrived at the end, he will exclaim, "How could I have thought of leaving it? The Lord has led me, and I have lacked nothing." O how easy has seemed to me the path from the first communion to Heaven!

In reminding you, O Christian soul, that Jesus Christ loves the child, that He especially loves him on the day of his first communion, and that this latter is the most certain 'guarantee of a holy perseverance, I have recalled to you memories which are always precious to you. But you are no longer a child : why then should I nevertheless treat with you of the relations which God has established between the Eucharist and childhood? For two reasons, O Christian soul. Firstly, because at every age we should, according to the expression of the Saviour, become little children, if we would enter into the kingdom of God. Secondly, because that perhaps Providence may confide to you the duty of watching over the first years of childhood.

We must all become little children! Notice, O Christian soul, that if the child, after his first communion, retains the feelings which inspired him on that great day, if he perseveres to the end, it is because that, on becoming a man, he has united with the attributes of manhood some of the virtues of childhood. Between these and the Christian virtues—as I said before—there is a wonderful analogy.

But why ? Is it because the Christian religion, enfeebling the powers of man, hinders them from taking their flight and binds them in swaddling-clothes? No, on the contrary, it perfects them, it increases them, it raises them, and facilitates their full development. I wish to make you understand how the Christian can unite in the practice of virtue both the qualities of childhood and those of manhood.

The pious author of the Imitation says well that man raises himself from earth on two wings, simplicity and purity. Simplicity keeps us near to God, and purity makes us take delight in Him. Now both these  virtues, are they not at the same time those of children and those of the Saints? The child is simple, and he is pure. Open the lives of the Saints. O how one is struck in reading them by those sayings of Holy Scripture; "God's communication is with the simple;" and, "He that loveth cleanness of heart, for the grace of his lips shall have the king for his friend."t However, the Saints have been men; and what men ! What courage in adversity ! what universal self-devotion! what activity for good! what an assemblage of heroic virtues ! Admirable combination: children and men at once ! accomplishing with manly energy the grandest, as well as the hardest, mission in life, and taking care always to guard their wings,—the wings of simplicity and purity, the wings of the child, the wings of the dove, the wings which raise us above the world and carry us towards God!