May 7, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend, we have the joy of celebrating the First Holy Communion of 49 children and the Confirmation of 25 young people who participate in the Religious Education Program of our parish. It is a special time of grace for all of us, as we witness these young members of our community taking important steps in their faith journey.

As we celebrate this joyous occasion, I invite you to reflect on the significance of these Sacraments in your lives. These Sacraments are special ways by which God shares his divine life to us. They bring us closer to Him and empower us to become agents of His love and mercy in the world.

The Holy Eucharist, as the source and summit of our Catholic faith, is the most perfect expression of Christ’s love for us. Through the Eucharist, we are united with Christ and with one another. It is through the Eucharist that we are nourished and strengthened, and we are empowered to live our lives in accordance with God’s will and bear witness to Him.

The image of children piously receiving the Lord for the first time in Holy Communion should remind us that we must always receive the Eucharist with faith and devotion. When we approach the Altar to receive the Lord, we must do so with a deep sense of humility and gratitude, recognizing that we are unworthy of this great gift. Indeed, we must always receive the Eucharist in a state of grace, free from mortal sin, and with a heart that longs to be united with the Lord.

Celebrating the Eucharist with utmost respect and reverence shows the depth of our faith in the Lord’s Real Presence and our intense love for Him. Exterior appearances and gestures are thus essential, and not accidental, to this sacred liturgical action. Our fasting for at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion; the way we come dressed up for Mass; the reverent bow or genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament; the conscious removal of our baseball caps and hats when entering the church; and the way in which we purposely raise our two hands, with one palm upon the other as if forming a throne for the Lord when we receive Him, etc., are all meaningful and common sense ways to express our readiness for the personal encounter with Christ, our Lord and God. Together with our interior disposition, these outward signs ensure that our reception of the Lord is both worthy and indicative of who we are and what we truly believe in.

The Sacrament of Confirmation, as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work within us and the world, empowers us with the special grace to remain close to Christ and to be able to carry out His mission in the world. Through the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, each one of us is equipped to love and serve others as Christ did, and to bring His light and joy to those around us. The image of our young people eagerly approaching the Bishop to receive those gifts of the Holy Spirit should remind us of the enthusiasm and passion that we must have about our faith in order to set the world on fire with Christ and His teachings.

To our young brothers and sisters who celebrate First Holy Communion and Confirmation this weekend, I urge you to remain close to Jesus and His family, the Church. May you always cherish the gifts that you have received among us, and continue to grow in faith as you journey through the challenges and joys of your life with grace.

Commending you all to the loving protection of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, I pray that what the Lord has begun in you will be brought to completion.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham