Last Sunday I graduated from a Marianist high school after four years of hard work, great fun, and lots of learning. It was one of the greatest days of my life, a bittersweet moment of incredible joy and nostalgia. Some things that usually come with such a big milestone of life are celebration and everyone’s favorite, presents. For most of my fellow graduates, myself included, these gifts take the form of money, trips to Europe, cars, books, parties, etc. All those things are great fun, some are actually useful, to take or use in college, to continue learning, or to bond with family and friends. One of the gifts my parents gave me was to have my maternal grandparents come for my graduation; and it was from my grandfather that I received the best graduation present.
As part of the graduation ceremonies, we always celebrates Baccalaureate Mass; this Sunday it coincided with the Feast of Corpus Christi. I had volunteered to serve in the Mass; so, naturally, I had to show up early. When I was ready to leave, my grandfather told me he wanted to go with me. In the car, my grandfather poured his heart out to tell me how proud and joyful he was of my graduation. He told me, that as his eldest grandson I reminded him of my deceased uncle, his first-born who graduated from college a few months before his car accident. Then, he gave me a book by Cervantes, told me to never forget my roots, and to keep on learning. Lastly, as we were going into the parking lot, he revealed his most cherished gift. He looked me in the eye and told me to find a priest to whom he could confess his sins because he wanted to receive Communion in celebration with me. I was shocked; this was the first time in years that I had seen my grandfather willing to take part in the Eucharist. I was also moved to tears of joy, because I had in front of me a man who understands the depth and the power of the Sacrament that I so often forget.
I decided to write about this powerful anecdote because from it I learned many things about my faith, and especially about the Eucharist. First, I was reminded that the celebration of the Eucharist is a joyful but serious matter. Too often we forget this and we go to Communion automatically, without much thought, without regret for our sins, and without the thankful and joyful attitude with which we should receive Our Lord. Second, I witnessed the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Going into the auditorium, before his Confession, my grandfather was sad and anxious. Afterwards he was calm and prepared to fully participate in the Eucharist. Again, that is how we should go into Mass. Last and certainly not least, this anecdote woke me up to the realization that the Eucharist is a gift. It is a gift from God, freely given for us to take part in, to enjoy, and to share with others. It is the gift of self that Christ, Our Lord and brother, gave for us. Through it He calls us to give ourselves to His will. Finally, it is the greatest gift because only if we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord how it is meant to be received are we given the eternal gift of salvation.
Contributed by one of our Marianist high school graduates