Tuesday, May 20, 2014

First Impressions of a First Communion

I have now been to my first Catholic first communion service, and I'm here to say, based on this one service, I'm impressed and wishing more churches would follow the example set by my nephew's church.

What impressed me?  Let me count the ways:

--So many family members and friends attended.  It was clear that the support for the children and their religious instruction extended across generations.

--The service itself, a full Mass, was beautiful.  It was also a teaching moment, as the children brought various elements forward:  not only the bread and wine, but also flowers, candles, and an amazing altar cloth that the children had made.  As they brought the items forward, a lector explained why we needed them.

--The teaching moments had been going on for some time previous, and not just in the CCD classes.  The children had had to attend a retreat last month, and there had been additional classes and rehearsals.  I thought of how many Protestant churches have abandoned all sorts of educational opportunities in the face of parental protests about team sports practices and tournaments and all the other commitments that parents choose over church.  Those parents' arguments would not have held weight in my nephew's church.

--The children had dressed up in a variety of ways.  Many of the girls had headpieces that resembled wedding veils.  One boy was in a white tux with tails.

--The priest directed his homily to the children.  But he had plenty to teach the rest of us too, about the value of a sacrament.

--The children had their first communion which went without a glitch, and then the rest of the congregation communed at stations throughout the church.  The process was smooth and flawless.  It's clear that this church routinely communes huge numbers of people.

--The children finished the service by giving us all a song, complete with hand motions.  It was both a lesson about passing on God's peace and a benediction.

I expected to be moved in all sorts of ways, and I was.  Even though I was expecting it, the depth of my emotions surprised me.  I came away feeling uplifted and nourished.

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