by Mother Mary Loyola, 1913

To make the Life of our Blessed Saviour enter largely into preparation for First Communion seems the most natural way of drawing the hearts of the young to Him. It would be sad to think of children coming to the altar-rails knowing little or nothing of His Life beyond such facts as the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist supposes. Yet there is danger of this. There is so much to be done in the simple teaching of the Christian doctrine during a child's school life, that the time devoted to it barely suffices. But in the preparation for First Communion time might surely be found, and ought to be found. Their hearts are fresh and tender, and full of an eager longing, that will never again in their lives be quite the same. If we could tell them a little more about Him then, His character, His wrays of dealing with us, and so bring them to the altar able to say, in their own fashion and degree : 'I know Whom I have believed,' would there not be solid work for the future done in their souls? Knowing Him better, they would come to love Him more. Faith, Hope, and Charity would have a firmer foundation ; they would make the acts more easily and more fervently, for there would be a living picture of Him in their hearts."

This book meant to be a picture-book in words, designed specially for the little ones, to whom pictures appeal so readily. This may perhaps be some excuse for its size, which might otherwise be considered unpardonable. To prepare children for their First Communion by a retreat suited to their capacity is not always possible. It is hoped that they may find here the same sort of help; the -contemplation of the Life of our Blessed Saviour being made, as it often is in a retreat, the backbone of all the moral instruction.

This, dear children, is a book put into your hands in the hope that it may help you to prepare yourselves for First Communion. Yes, prepare yourselves ; for this great work, the greatest of your lives, must be done by yourselves. No one can do it for you. Others may help you, but the real work of preparing your hearts for Jesus must be your own doing.

For God has given to all of us a free-will, and on the way in which we use that free-will depends the way in which we grow up. If we use it well, we shall grow up good. If we use it well now, we shall be well prepared for our First Communion and pleasing to our Lord when He comes. So we are all going to be thoroughly in earnest ; we are going to put our whole heart into our preparation and refuse our Lord nothing He asks of us.

Yes, we must be really in earnest. If up to now we have been careless about serving God and saving our souls, we must not be so any longer. We must think seriously about what we are going to do. We must look upon our First Communion as an event in our lives for which we cannot prepare too carefully and too heartily. God is coming to visit us. Can any pains in getting ready for Him be too great?

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

O good Jesus, hear me.

Hide me within Thy wounds.

Never Permit me to be separated from Thee.

From the malignant enemy, defend me.

At the hour of my death, call me.

And bid me come to Thee,

That with Thy Saints,

I may praise thee, for everlasting ages.


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