Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Last January, Ryland and the rest of the Level 2 Catechism Classes started the preparation for their First Communion.
First, the parents were invited to attend three meetings to guide them how to help the children understand this Sacrament. Like the one for First Reconciliation (Confession), parents were given a guidebook and the children a workbook. And so for one to two nights a week, I sat down with Ryland for about half an hour doing the lessons on his workbook.
On the first meeting, Wanda, the catechism coordinator, asked us parents to share memories of our First Communion. Hers was how she got spaghetti sauce all over her white dress. One dad was how the bread got stuck to the roof of his mouth. One mom said that all she remembered was how she wanted to get out of her dress once she got home. Another mom remembered how she had to wear this long white veil. My sister’s (her daughter is also in Ryland’s class) was how she had to memorize all these prayers and the Ten Commandments, seven deadly sins, etc. Mine was how we had to wear this gala uniform – white dress, white veil, white socks, white shoes. And the thing that stuck in my mind was thinking, “So this is what the host tastes like. It tastes like bread.” Wanda asked me how I felt about that. Was I surprised? Was I disappointed? Honestly, I couldn’t remember.
Wanda also told us about the Orthodox church. They have their Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation – all three at the same time. At the meeting, there were these two parents who belonged to the Orthodox church. They had no memory of their First Communion because they had it when they were babies. Babies were given just a very small piece of Bread. Isn’t that interesting?
The point of having the parents teach the children about Communion is to make this a special experience for them. After all, parents are every child’s first teachers and the home is their first community.
Last Saturday, the children had a retreat. On that day, they also helped make the bread that they were going to receive. It was not the traditional wafer. They made unleavened bread. After the retreat, parents and children had rehearsal at the church.
After months of preparation, the children finally had their First Communion on Sunday. They looked oh so cute and adorable. The girls in their white frilly dresses looking like little brides. And the boys, although not all of them wore suits, were in their Sunday’s best. They marched down the aisle to the altar carrying red roses and then they sat down with their families. It was a very special celebration.
Years from now, I wonder what Ryland will remember about his First Communion. Will it be that he had to memorize the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and The Creed (I Believe)? Or perhaps the nights we spent reading and learning from his workbook. Or how he had to wear his white and black suit and how he had to take off his blazer at church because it was too hot. (It was 27 C.) Or perhaps receiving the bread for the first time. Could it be how disappointed he was that he didn’t get a single toy out of his presents? Or that I said, “First Communion is not about toys.” I hope what he remembers best is the nights we spent together learning his communion lessons and also how he was surrounded by his family and how we had a feast after his First Communion.
What about you? What’s your memory of your First Communion?