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The First Communion class had gathered for another Saturday morning lesson. Ms. Kelly was telling the children that in the next several weeks they would be learning more about the Mass and the Eucharist. In fact, Father Hugo would join them if his schedule allowed.

Suddenly organ music filled the church!

The children jumped up out of their seats. Startled, they looked to Ms. Kelly. She was looking up, over their heads. Their eyes followed her eyes. Then they saw, up in the choir loft, Sister Mary Rose seated at the huge organ, playing a loud, 'Alleluia' song. When she finished, the children clapped in delight. "Good morning class," she called from the choir loft.

"Good morning, Sister Mary Rose," they responded together.

"Children, you must know that music is a very important part of our worship of the Lord," said Ms. Kelly.

"I asked Sister Mary Rose if she would help us to learn to sing some of the hymns that will be sung during the Mass on your First Communion day. She thought it might be nice to begin by visiting the choir loft and taking a closer look at the pipe organ. What do you say?"

The children responded with excited 'yeahs', jumping at the occasion to see more of their church, especially that curious choir loft.

"Well, let's go," commanded Ms. Kelly as she led the procession of children down the church aisle and up the spiral staircase to the choir loft.

"Wow! " said Jesusspeakstome as she looked over the rail to the church below. "The church looks even bigger and more beautiful from way up here." She reached out to take Nadine's hand to bring her friend closer to the rail. Jesusspeakstome knew Nadine was afraid of heights and hoped that by taking her hand she would feel safe.

Enrico and Romano begged the children to come see the pipes that are part of the big pipe organ. They explained how the organ pushes air into and out of the pipes to make the sounds. Depending on the size of each pipe, a different sound comes out. The big pipes make real deep and rolling sounds. The thinner pipes make high and piercing sounds.

"Our mom and dad sing in the choir," said Romano. "Enrico and I sometimes come here with them on Sunday, but we have to stay out of the way and be very quiet. Mom says from here our voices can be heard all over the church."

"Indeed," commented Sister Mary Rose as the children gathered around her. "The church is designed so that from here, the sound of the pipe organ and the voices of the choir fill the church. We certainly do not want children's talking to fill the church, now do we?" she added with a wink of her eye.

"Did you know that music is an essential part of almost everything we do in church?" asked Sister Mary Rose. "We sing at Mass, we sing at weddings, we sing at funerals. We just love to sing to the Lord. St. Augustine taught us that the who sings prays twice'. That's because most of the songs or hymns sung in church are inspired by the Psalms or are prayers that saints and other devout people have written and that have been set to music."

"My Grandma's voice squeaks when she sings," said Erin. "Grandpa is even worse, he croaks like a frog," added her twin sister Bridget. ''Should they be allowed to sing out loud in church like they do?^ questioned Erin.

"Absolutely! " chuckled Sister Mary Rose. "Remember, God loves each and every one of us. During Mass, we should all sing to the Lord from our souls and with our very best voices, even if our voices are squeaky and croaky."

Sister passed out some papers and continued to talk. 'There is certain music that we play and sing at Mass almost every Sunday. Other music and hymns change depending upon the season of the Church year and the occasion. On this paper you will find some of the special hymns that we will sing at the Mass for your First Communion. These hymns are also in the hymnals in the pews."

"Come,gather around the organ and we will practice singing the opening hymn. The first one on your sheet, Gather Us In, is the one that we will sing to begin Mass on your First Communion day. I will sing it through first so you get the tune. Then you sing with me."

They sang the hymn through three times. Ms. Kelly and Sister Mary Rose were delighted to hear that each time the little choir sounded better than the time before. As Sister explained the words, the hymn became more meaningful to the children.

"Very good, class," Sister Mary Rose complimented them. "Now, in the next few weeks, as you learn about the Mass, we will work on the other hymns. By First Communion Sunday these hymns and your voices will become part of the Mass."

"Thank you, Sister," called the children as they were led back down the spiral stairs. "That was fun, Sister. See you next week,Sister."

After class, Riley and Maria again sat in their favorite spot in front of the church to review what they had learned today about the Church and the Mystery of the Eucharist. They read aloud to each other the words of the hymns on the paper given to them by Sister Mary Rose. They noticed that many of the hymns were about bread and wine, the Lamb of God, and the Body and Blood of Christ. They read phrases like:

Here we will take the wine and the water,

Here we will take the bread of new birth,...

Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us;...

I want to walk as a child of the light.

I want to follow Jesus.

God set the stars to give light to the world.

The star of my life is Jesus.

I am the Bread of life.

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