While visiting in a Roman parish Sunday evening, Pope Francis shared with children preparing to receive their First Communion. According to Zenit News Agency, He told them about his own First Communion 70 years ago. Pope Francis also met with little children, the sick and families with children baptized during the year. He then heard confessions and then presided at Mass for Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent).
While talking with the children he said,
“There are those of you here who are going to make their First Communion. Do you know? This year was the 70th anniversary of my First Communion: 70 years ago I made my First Communion. A long time ago, no? I made it on Oct. 8, 1944.”
Pope Francis said he remembered the occasion “as if it were today.” Pope Francis recalled the catechists who taught him for a full year…both were named Alice. He remembered entering the church with all the children’s hands stuck together and singing. He shared the words of the song, ‘O holy altar, guarded by the Angels, I come to you for the first time.’
Commenting that he would never forget that day he added that he also received Confirmation later on the same day. Pope Francis said to the children, ”
“You, who will make your First Communion, always remember that day your whole life: the first day that Jesus came in to us. He comes, makes himself one with us, makes himself our food, our nourishment to give us strength.”
Pope Francis encouraged the children to remember their catechist saying that when the Sister who taught him for Communion died in 1987 he went there and prayed because that Sister brought him close to Jesus. Pope Francis added,
“Don’t forget the catechists, all right? Don’t forget the date, O.K.? And every year on the date, go make a good Confession and Communion; all right?”
Pope Francis also met with the families of the recently baptized. To these families Pope Francis said,
“In Baptism, you gave the faith, you transmitted the faith through the Sacrament, but after many years, they will do the same with their children, and thus the faith — from the time of Jesus to today — is like a chain that is transmitted by parents. And this is a beautiful responsibility! Don’t forget the day of your Baptism, don’t ever forget it!”
Pope Francis said that in Argentina it is the custom to baptize children eight days after their birth. He recalled that he was baptized on Christmas day, eight days after his Dec. 17 birthday.
In his blessing he said,
“I pray for you. May you have joy, joy with these children, joy in the home, joy in hope, so much joy. And I give you my blessing,”
In his final reflection he commented on the cry of a child, saying the cry of a child is God’s voice.
This article was originally published on Dec. 15, 2014 by Vicki Scheenstra.