For First Communicants

With Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1919

by a Sister of Notre Dame, author of First Communion Days

  Page 8

--------Little Nellie-------

This is a story of a little girl called Nellie-----such a little girl that she was not much more than a baby when her beautiful Guardian Angel took her soul up to Heaven. Yet this little baby had learnt to love "Holy God" more than many children who were much older than she. When Nellie was only three years old her dear mamma died, and there was no one to take care of the home and the children, for Nellie's father was a soldier and had to live with the other soldiers. So little Nellie and her sister were sent to live in a convent school kept by the kind Good Shepherd Sisters. When the two little girls arrived at the convent it was found that Nellie had the whooping cough, so she was taken right away to the hospital for some weeks. After she was better she came back to the convent and lived with the other little children. All the others were much bigger than Nellie, and they were very pleased to have a dear little baby girl to play with. They made a great pet of her, and did all they could to make her happy.

Yet, in spite of all their kindness, Nellie was often found crying. She cried so often, for nothing as people thought, that they said she must be a very bad-tempered little girl. But this was not really so.

After a few weeks Nellie became very ill, and they found that every time she had cried she had been suffering great pain, but was too tiny to explain what was the matter with her. Now she was ill, too ill to stay with the other children, so ill indeed that they thought she was going to die. So she was carried to a dear little cottage at the end of the convent garden, where sick children were nursed.

One of the big girls used to take care of her when the Sister was busy. Nearly every day this big girl used to get up early to go to Mass and Holy Communion in the convent chapel, but sometimes when she was not very well she was told to stay in bed instead.

The first morning this happened, when she got up and came into Nellie's room, Nellie looked up from her cot and said: "You haven't had Holy God in your heart to-day."

"How do you know that, Nellie?" asked the big girl.

"Oh, I know," said Nellie, "and I shall tell Mother."

The children call the Sisters "Mother" in that convent.
Every time that the big girl stayed in bed Nellie knew, although she was not sleeping in the same room. Each time that she came in Nellie would look at her sadly and say:

"You have not had Holy God today."

The Sister who looked after Nellie used to teach her all about Almighty God, and His Dear Mother, and how to say her little prayers. Nellie loved to hear about Holy God, as she said, and about Holy God's Mother and the Angels.

One, day during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Sister carried Nellie into the chapel and told her all about Holy God living there. After this Nellie seemed to think of nothing else. She understood all about Holy Communion too, and would ask the Sister who nursed her to come straight up to her bed after she had received Our Lord, while Holy God was still in her heart .

The Bishop, when he heard about little Nellie and her great love for Holy God, said he would come to the convent and give her the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation. So one day the Bishop came, and Sister carried little Nellie into the chapel, for she was too weak to walk, and there, as she lay in the Sister's arms, the good Bishop confirmed her.

After this Nellie longed to make her First Holy Communion.

"When will Holy God come into my heart?" she would ask. "Oh, I am longing for Holy God."

About this time there was a good priest staying in the convent. He often used to visit little Nellie, and when he found how ardently she longed for Holy God, and how well she understood about Holy Communion, he said she should be allowed to make her First Communion. The Bishop's permission was asked and given. Then little Nellie was told that soon indeed Holy God was to come into her heart. How happy she was as she lay in her tiny cot watching the preparations.

Near her cot they had made a little altar to the Infant Jesus, and Nellie would lie for hours looking at it and talking to Holy God. They made her a little white frock, a white veil and wreath, and lent her little white shoes and socks to wear. Nellie took a great interest in these clothes.

"Everything must be very nice for Holy God," she said, "and you must put them on me again when He takes me up to Heaven."
The morning came, and Nellie was dressed and carried into chapel, and there they laid her on a cushion on one of the benches. All the Sisters were there and all the children too. The children sang very sweetly during the Mass, but Nellie clasped her tiny hands and said her baby prayers. When at last the priest brought her Holy Communion, how happy she was. Dear little baby, sitting there so quietly, talking to Holy God! After her thanksgiving she was carried out of the chapel back to her cot. Such a happy, contented little baby had never been known before.

Her next Holy Communion was during the Christmas Midnight Mass. After that she grew worse and worse. The priest used to bring Holy God to her in bed. Such a brave little girl she was, although she suffered most terrible pain. She would say: "Look at Holy God on the Cross. He suffered more than this for me. Oh, I am longing to go to Holy God."
But her time was growing very short on earth now. Each day she grew weaker and weaker, until one Sunday a beautiful Angel flew down from Heaven for Nellie's soul and took it up with him to Holy God. The Sisters and children were very sorry to lose their baby playmate, and all were present when Nellie's poor little body was put into a tiny grave in the convent grounds. Afterward they often went to pray where Nellie was buried, and from her place in Heaven little Nellie helped them by her prayers. The memory of her great love for Holy God made them try to love Him too as she did, and to take great pains to prepare their hearts to receive Him in Holy Communion.

We adorned Little Nellie's sweet image with beautiful roses of all kinds, because roses are like flowers from the Saints in Heaven and flowers sent to Heaven in the prayers of the pure soul.