By Emily Cavins
As we continue to celebrate the Easter season, let’s celebrate the Holy Eucharist as well! I recall our goddaughter, Mary, bouncing excitedly up to us several weeks after her First Communion, to announce she had just received her fifth Communion. She was counting each time she had the great privilege of receiving her Lord. I have lost track of how many times I have received, but I do rejoice that at least weekly, I celebrate an anniversary of my First Holy Eucharist back in 1996.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending a Mass at our children’s high school, which was celebrated by Bishop Andrew Cozzens. In his homily, he said a few things that started me thinking about the early days of the Church.
As a convert to the Catholic Church, I previously had no education regarding the Mass or the celebration of the Eucharist. What I had assumed about the Early Church was that they just kinda hung around together and told others about Jesus, and then centuries later, the Mass was invented. Of course now I realize the Mass was from the beginning of the Church, and what Bishop Cozzens asked the students in his homily inspired me to write this blog.
He asked, “When was the first Mass?” Someone correctly answered, “The Last Supper.” That was the institution of the Eucharist with Jesus’ words “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Then Bishop asked, “So when was the second Mass?” I’d never thought about that. The answer was the Sunday of His Resurrection when he met the couple on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). He was present to them and broke bread with them.
And when was the third Mass? In John 21:12, Jesus appeared to His disciples in Galilee and fed them fish and bread.
How about the next one? On the following Sunday, surely the disciples gathered in one place to “do this in remembrance of me.” One of those first Masses was on the day of Pentecost when they were waiting in the Upper Room for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Then, in Acts 2:42-46, we hear that they assembled in homes to pray and break bread. By Acts 20:7, it is clear that the first day of the week, Sunday, was the day that they gathered to break bread. It became habit to be present with Jesus in the Eucharist from Resurrection Sunday to this very day!
We can celebrate the anniversary of those first Masses during this current Easter season, and we can marvel that those who first partook of Jesus’ Body and Blood are communing with us at each Mass as well!
About the Author:
Emily Cavins received her BA in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Minnesota and has participated in several excavations in Israel. She leads annual pilgrimages to Israel and other Bible related destinations with her husband Jeff Cavins. Emily’s current project, Gen2Rev Storybook: A Walk through the Catholic Bible, introduces children and educators to salvation history and makes a vital link between the Bible, the Mass, and the Catholic Faith. To learn more about Emily’s work, visit her on Facebook or on her Catholic Family Night website.