We actually were all very cheerful about it despite the above photo which looks as though it was taken after we'd been given some bad news.
I'm sure there are better photos, ones in which we look more perky and animated , but this is all I have for now. It is one that a friend sent us since we didn't get round to taking any ourselves.
There was one designated photographer who was allowed to take photos during the Mass, and took some nice group shots afterwards, but we haven't received those yet.
The night before I finished reading the story of Blessed Imelda Lambertini to Colmcille.
She's the little patron of first communicants since she died in ectasy following her first communion.
When I got to that bit I did wonder if it was a slightly strange story to be reading a boy about to recieve the Blessed Sacrament for the first time.
But Colmcille didn't seem a bit bothered by young Imelda's demise at the tender age of eleven.
His eyes grew big and round and he gasped "She died of joy!"
Which was just the ticket and reassured me that my choice of story wasn't going to put a dampner on his big day and make him lose sleep worrying whether he might actually make it to his second Holy Communion.
Needless to say Colmcille did not die of joy himself, but he was very emotional and had a little cry which then made Pat and I shed a litle tear too.
It was an emotional day for us also, because our beloved parish priest, Fr Alan, who is being treated for cancer, returned to say mass just for the occasion.
It was a momentous act of love, given his very frail state of health at the moment. He looked pale and tired. And yet, his preaching, although with a little less vigour, was every bit as stirring as ever. Without any rhetorical device or flourish, and just a quiet certitude he makes the Word come alive.
When he preaches I am reminded of the unwitting companions of Jesus on the road to Emmaus, who reflected that their hearts burned within them when the scriptures were explained.
Please, please pray for him.
Here is an excerpt from his letter to the parish in which he explains his current circumstances.
Now of course I have to practise what I preach! Yes, God speaks through events. So I hope I am hearing well everything he is saying to me through this unexpected illness.Dear Jesus, Divine Physician and Healer of the sick, we turn to you in this time of illness. O dearest comforter of the troubled, alleviate our worry and sorrow with your gentle love, and grant Fr Alan the grace and strength to accept this burden. Dear God, we place our worries in your hands. We place Fr Alan under your care and humbly ask that you restore your servant to health again. Above all, grant us the grace to acknowledge your will and know that whatever you do, you do for the love of us. Amen.
And how often have I spoken about the cross!; saying that when it appears in our life, we should, like the crucified Christ, continue to call God Abba , Father. Now I hope this word will be fulfilled in me.
Early in 1999, when our former Archbishop, Cardinal Hume, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, Pope John-Paul II wrote to tell him of his prayer and support. He told the Cardinal that his illness had been allowed by the Lord in his ‘ALL-SEEING PROVIDENCE’.
It is with trust in this ‘all-seeing providence’ that I want to live these days and face the future.
I really hesitated to write this about myself, knowing that some of you know more about suffering, pain and illness than I do. But still, I wanted to share it with you.
Meanwhile, you are being treated to a wonderful variety of priests celebrating Mass in Ogle Street. They will be rewarded.
I want to give a special word of thanks to Vincent Harrington, who in my absence has truly become our ‘Parish Administrator’. He will be rewarded too!
Dear Brothers and Sisters, again I thank you and continue to count on your prayer, love and support. I hope that in his ‘all-seeing providence’ the Lord will make it possible for me to return to the parish soon.
St Charles Borromeo
St Therese of Liseux
St Jean Marie Vianney
Blessed John Paul II
Pray for him.