Susanna Spencer has a masters in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is a writer and the theological editor for Blessed is She, and writes on her own blog Living With Lady Philosophy. She is a homeschooling mother of four and lives with her family in St. Paul, Minnesota.
My dear sweet girl,
When I kneel beside you in Eucharistic Adoration, I always wonder what is going on in that sensitive heart of yours. You always ask to sit right in the front of the chapel and settle down quietly to pray. I notice how you look earnestly toward the host in the monstrance. What do you say to your Savior in the depth of your heart? Do you tell him how much you love him? Do you thank him for all he does for you? Do you ask him to help you? Do you pray for me as well? I have noticed that when you pray, God answers your prayers.
Today, May 12, your First Communion day is the feast day of Blessed Imelda Lambertini who is the patron saint of First Communicants. When she was just a little girl like you, she greatly desired to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. But when she lived in the 1300s children could not receive their First Communion until age 14. Starting when she was age five she longed for and prayed to be able to receive her First Communion sooner. She realized that because God dwelt in everyone, we all are living tabernacles.
What do you think of that? God is living in your heart now, but he wants to be even more closely united to you. He wants to give you his own Body and Blood to eat and be even closer to you. When you receive him, you also receive so much grace to become more and more like him. When your heart is like his, you will be perfectly happy.
Blessed Imelda often thought about when Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) She asked him to allow herself and other children receive him sooner. She desired and loved him so much that she decided when she was just nine years old to become a Dominican sister. But even in the convent was told that she had to wait until she was older to receive her First Communion. She prayed and offered her suffering to Jesus for two years, waiting and longing to receive his Eucharistic body.
One day on Eve of the feast of the Ascension, she felt that she was going to finally have the desire of her heart. She believed that she would die of happiness when she finally got to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood. Her superior in the convent did not allow Imelda to receive during Mass that day, but afterward, she knelt praying, longing for Jesus to come to her. As she knelt in prayer a host came out from the tabernacle and hovered in the air above her. She saw Jesus coming toward her and became rapt in ecstatic prayer gazing at the host so close to her. The nuns noticed and quickly sent for their chaplain.
The priest saw clearly that the Lord willed for Imelda to receive the Sacred Host even though she was so young, and holding a paten below the host carefully grasped it out of the air and gave the host to the kneeling girl. The girl’s happiness was clear throughout the chapel, and her fellow sisters left her to pray. It was not until later that the nuns noticed that she truly had died of happiness.
What do you think of that, my daughter? Blessed Imelda’s happiness never ended, because with her death she was brought to Heaven. Five hundred years later her body was found to be incorrupt and Pope Leo XII beatified her in 1826. Then almost 100 years after that Pope Pius X finally said that children as young as youcould receive Jesus in Holy Communion. You can receive him because you believe and know that the bread and wine become Jesus’ Body and Blood at the consecration at Mass. Jesus wants to come to you, because you believe and because you love him so much. You, a little child, can truly come to him now.
I know that you like to imagine yourself as a little lamb in your Good Shepherd’s arms. “You and Daddy and my sisters and my brother, we are all the little lamb that Jesus holds!” you have told me. You also love St. Agnes, just like Blessed Imelda did, because she holds a lamb in all the paintings and statues of her.
I am so happy for you my little lamb, for you to finally hold Jesus inside you. My prayer for you today is that you will always love him so much, and that your love for him will grow everyday. I hope that you will always know his Real Presence. I pray that you will be willing to sacrifice everything to seek Jesus, who is the pearl of great price just like the merchant in the parable who sold all he owned in order to have. He is your one true treasure, and you are his little lamb. Never forget that, my sweet girl.