I am not an unalloyed fan of the liturgical reforms of Pope St Pius X, for all sorts of reasons. And, liturgically speaking, I am not that happy about the giving of Communion before Confirmation.
Pastorally speaking, on the other hand, I am a huge fan. We have just had two splendid ceremonies: last weekend, Bishop Kieran came to our parish and confirmed seventeen young people (fifteen teenagers and two in their twenties); yesterday I gave first Holy Communion to twenty-six children. Both occasions were deeply moving.
After the Communions yesterday, returning to the house, I saw a nice neighbour sitting in her car, and I went across to apologize for the fact that parking had been so difficult in the streets around.
'We had first Communions this morning', I explained.
'I know', she said. 'I was watching all those happy families, and the children all dressed up and so excited'.
She turned towards me, and I could see tears in her eyes.
'I long to be able to believe like that', she said.
And we had a little chat about this and that.
Our church, though pretty vile as a building, has the advantage of being in the middle of a town; so many churches now have been rebuilt outside, like shopping malls. All our neighbours could not but be aware of the exciting events in the church, watching the boys in their first suits and the girls dressed like brides, their faces shining with uncomplicated faith and excitement, running to their first encounter with the Lord, to know him in the breaking of bread…
There are few things more beautiful on earth.