Pope Shares Memories of His First Communion

100,000 Children Gather to Highlight Importance of Eucharist

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Anticipating the imminent end of the Year of the Eucharist, Benedict XVI gathered some 100,000 young communicants for a meeting entitled «Bread of Heaven.»

Last June the Pope extended an invitation to all children who were receiving their first Communion this year. At that time they were invited to St. Peter’s Square to confirm the essential role that the sacrament of the Eucharist has in the formation and spiritual growth of children.

The invitation was addressed to children of the Diocese of Rome and neighboring dioceses. However, children from all over Italy, and from Spain, France and elsewhere, arrived in buses in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday, overflowing the plaza.

The highlight of the day was their conversation with Benedict XVI who responded to seven of the children, seated close to him, who asked him questions about the Eucharist.

One of the girls, Andrea, asked the Holy Father about his first Communion.

It was «a beautiful Sunday in March 1935,» he said, «69 years ago.»

«It was a sunny day, the church was very beautiful, there was music,» said the Pontiff with a broad smile. «I promised the Lord, in the measure possible: ‘I want to be always with you’ and I said to him: ‘But you must always be with me.'»

Regular confession

Another of the first communicants, Livia, asked him why she should go to confession before going to Communion when she always commits the same sins. The Pope laughed when he heard the question.

«It’s true, in general our sins are always the same, but we clean our house, our room, at least every week, although the dirt is always the same,» he said.

Confession is necessary «only in the case of grave sin,» he explained. «But it is very useful to go to confession regularly to cultivate cleanliness and beauty of soul, and to mature little by little in life.»

To Giulia, who asked what she should do if her parents do not go to Mass on Sunday, he responded that she should speak to them «with great love, with great respect.»

«Tell them,» he said, «‘Dear mommy, dear daddy, do you know that there is something very important for all of us, and even for you? We will meet with Jesus.'»

Before the Pope arrived, around 6 p.m., the children participated in a music festival, in which Amii Stewart, among others, took part.

The meeting ended with adoration and Benediction with the Eucharist.

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