The Life of Dominic Savio
Dominic is Allowed to Make His First Communion Before the UsualAge.
Preparation for the Important Day. His Resolutions.
IT was remarked in the foregoing chapter that Dominic showed exceptional piety when he Approached the HolyTable, but there were important circumstances connected with his First Communion that call for consideration. As far as dispositions are concerned, Dominic appeared to have the most excellent ones; he knew the necessary catechism thoroughly; he had a clear knowledge, considering his years, of this the greatest of the Sacraments, and moreover, his desire to receive it was eager and constant. The only obstacle, therefore, was his age, for at that time, children were usually not allowed to make their First Communion before they were eleven or twelve. Savio was only a boy of seven, and he hardly looked his few years, so that the parish priest hesitated. He consulted the neighbouring priests, and having carefully considered the the boy's knowledge and dispositions, all doubt and hesitation were finally swept aside, and Dominic was allowed to partake, for the first time, of the food of angels.
The boy could not repress his delight when he was told this good news, and a supernatural joy seemed to take possession of his soul. He ran to his mother to tell her; he was eager to spend more time in prayer, or in reading the instructions for Holy Communion; he spent more time than ever at church, before and after Mass; he seemed to be already communing with the angels in adoration. On the eve of the great event in his life, he said to his mother: "As I am going to make my First Communion tomorrow, forgive me the pain I have caused you in the past; from now I shall be much better; I shall be more attentive at school, and more obedient in whatever you tell me to do." His sorrow for what he imagined to be his past faults so moved him as to fill his eyes with tears; and the mother, deeply touched, as was natural, at these pious dispositions in her boy, and remembering that in the past he had been a continual source of consolation to her, comforted him by saying: "Put your fears away, my child, whatever you may have done is all forgiven; pray that God may keep you good, and pray for your father and mother."
When that memorable day dawned, he rose early, and long before the time set off for the church, which he found still shut. He knelt down on the step, as was his wont, and said his prayers, till the doors were opened to admit the children, who by this time had gathered together. There were still some confessions to be heard, so that, allowing for preparation and thanksgiving, and the Mass and discourse, the function of the First Communion was a matter of hours. Dominic had been the first to arrive to offer his salutation to God; he was the last to retire after his thanksgiving. The whole period had been for him one of abstraction from things of earth, and of contact with the things of heaven.
Later on, when any reference was made to his First Communion day, his face would light up with joy, as he exclaimed: "That was indeed a day of happy remembrances for me:" It was a sort of re-commencement of a life which might serve as a model to all. In his little book of devotions he wrote down some resolutions, which I have been able to transcribe with all their original and direct simplicity, and their introduction in diary form:
"Resolutions made by me, Dominic Savio, in the year 1849, on the day of my First Communion, at the age of seven.
1. I will go to Confession often, and as frequently to Holy Communion as my confessor allows.
2. I wish to sanctify the Sundays and festivals in a special manner.
3. My friends shall be Jesus and Mary.
4. Death rather than sin.
These resolutions were not simply written out and then put carefully away; he read them very often, and they were a guide to him throughout his life.
If among the readers of this little work there should chance to be some who are yet to make their First Communion, I would strongly urge them to follow young Savio as their model. But in particular, fathers and mothers, and those who exercise any authority over the young, should attach the greatest importance to this religious act; for a First Communion that is well made constitutes a solid moral foundation for the whole future life; and it would be indeed surprising if this solemn act, when worthily performed, did not result in a virtuous life.
On the other hand, great numbers of young people are met with, who are the despair of their parents and of those who interest themselves in them;the root of this evil is generally found to lie in the fact, that their preparation for First Communion was carelessly conducted, or in great part neglected. It would be better to delay it, or even not to make it at all, than that it should be made badly.