We celebrate today the two most important gifts that Our Lord left to us after His ascension into Heaven: the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Eucharist. For today is not only the great feast of Pentecost, but it is also the day when four of our young members will join us in receiving Holy Communion for the first time in their lives. Yet these two events are intricately linked together, so that we could not have one without the other. How is this so?
We first could not have the Eucharist without the Holy Spirit, because we would not have the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church without that same Spirit. Pentecost is among other things traditionally called the birthday of the Church, the moment when the Church truly came into being. It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of God Himself from God, who brings forth the Apostles so as to begin to exist as the Mystical Body of Christ. For only in the Mystical Body can one receive the Real Body and Blood of Him who died for us on the Cross, rose again on the third day, and has ascended to the right hand of the Father. Without the Church, there is no Communion, and without the Holy Spirit there is no Church.
Yet we Christians cannot have the Holy Spirit without having Holy Communion. Indeed, God has sent the Holy Spirit down upon the Church so as to unite us into one, demonstrated by the unity of tongues seen at that first Pentecost. But what helps us to maintain that unity, or to make that unity more perfect? It is in the means which Jesus Himself has passed on to us at the Last Supper before His saving Passion and Death: the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion. In the Eucharist is found the means whereby the soul is drawn ever closer to God and through the Holy Spirit towards the one with whom we are meant to be united both in this life and in the life to come: Jesus Christ our Lord.
How wonderful are the mysteries of our faith, by which all things draw their sanctification from the Holy Spirit while flowing from and leading back to the Holy Eucharist! The act of receiving Holy Communion is an act that should be treasured by all who are made worthy by the Holy Spirit to receive it. These things are not rewards for being good or doing what one is supposed to do, but they are aids in becoming what we were created to be from the beginning: the children of God, adopted in the Spirit, unified to the Father through the Son who makes us like Himself whenever we receive Him with a clean heart.
Let us celebrate, first of all, the great event of Pentecost on this day. Let us rejoice that God comes to dwell within us through He who is gift of God’s love. Let us desire to be united more than ever with the Spirit of sanctification by receiving frequently and with the right intention the instruments of that same sanctification: the sacraments. Let us be united to the Church who is ever united with the Spirit that gives her the holiness to be able to distribute the sacraments which aid in our salvation.
But let us pray this day for our four young ones who are to receive for the first time the ultimate fruit of the Church’s sanctification in the Holy Eucharist. Let us pray that they may be prepared for the day when they shall be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in Confirmation so as to be the full member of the Church as God desires for all of humanity. Let us also recall our own reception of the Eucharist, and consider whether we allow this sacrament to lead us to a more intimate relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or whether we inhibit the action of the Spirit in our salvation by unworthily receiving Communion. Let us be stirred up anew to a greater love of all that God has given us in Himself so that we may not be alone, may not be led astray, but that we may receive the desired effect of His Spirit and His Eucharist: the union with God that awaits in the eternal banquet of Heaven.