This passage I wanted to share because, even though we are not yet up to Therese's First Communion, we already see in this episode the joy of First Communion. For it is a reflection of how she felt the day of her older sister's First Communion. Could a degree of her feeling on this occasion be merely the subjective emotional reaction of a young girl, and of sisterly love? Of course. Let us, however, mark well in some of these types of passages how well prepared a child can be made for his First Holy Communion. It is possible to induce a Christian child to both know what the Sacrament is, and to have a deep hunger for it. It is the work of not only the pastoral ministry, but also teachers, and parents, and deacons too, if you have one.
Note also that, as you will surely pick up from this text, the age of First Communion in that age was not as early as it ought to have been. In the Roman Church, it was Pope Pius X in the early twentieth century who again lowered the age. And when she refers to "going to the Abbey," she is referring to the fact that at a certain age the girls were enrolled in the day school there. Here is Therese:
What gave one joy or pain did exactly the same to the other. Yes, our joys were in common. I felt this especially on the beautiful day when Celine made her First Communion. I wasn't going to the Abbey as yet because I was only seven, but I have preserved a very sweet memory of the preparation you, my dear Mother, had Celine make. You took her, each evening, on your knees and spoke to her of the great action she was about to perform; I listened eagerly in order to prepare myself also, but very often you told me to go away as I was too little. Then my heart was very heavy and I thought four years was not too long to prepare to receive God.
One evening, I heard you say that from the time one received one's First Communion, one had to commence living a new life, and I immediately made the resolution not to wait for that day but to commence the very same time as Celine. Never had I felt I loved her as much as I did during her three-day retreat; for the first time in my life, I was separated from her and I didn't sleep in her bed. The first day, forgetting she was not going to return, I kept a small bunch of cherries that Papa had brought me in order to eat them with her. When I didn't see her returning home, I was really sad. Papa consoled me by saying he would take me the next day to the Abbey to see my Celine and that I would give her another bunch of cherries! The day of Celine's First Communion left me with an impression similar to my own First Communion. When awakening in the morning all alone in the big bed, I felt inundated with joy. "It's today! The great day has arrived." I repeated this over and over again. It seemed it was I who was going to make my First Communion.