The Easter season is a time of sacraments, the way the Risen Jesus comes to us today. It’s the time for First Communions, when little children are initiated into this mystery and we adults are reminded of it again.
I often think how impoverished we moderns are compared to generations long ago who experienced bread and wine so much more concretely than we do today. They watched bread made in their own homes and probably helped pressing grapes for wine.
You can see that experience in the old commentaries on the Eucharist, like this one from St. Gaudentius of Brescia.(+410) Bread-making and wine-making help to understand the mystery:
“ Daily this mystery is before our eyes as a representation of the passion of Christ. We hold it in our hands, we receive it in our mouths, and we accept it in our hearts.
“It is appropriate that we should receive the body of Christ in the form of bread, because, as there are many grains of wheat in the flour from which bread is made by mixing it with water and baking it with fire, so also we know that many members make up the one body of Christ which is brought to maturity by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
“Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, and since it was fitting that he should fulfil all justice, he entered into the waters of baptism to sanctify them. When he left the Jordan he was filled with the Holy Spirit who had descended upon him in the form of a dove. As the evangelist tells us: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan.
“Similarly, the wine of Christ’s blood, drawn from the many grapes of the vineyard that he had planted, is extracted in the wine-press of the cross. When we receive it with believing hearts, like capacious wineskins, it ferments within us by its own power.”
The Passionist Nuns from Erlanger, Kentucky, make Communion wafers for many churches and they made a video of how it’s done, for children making their First Communion.