My oldest son just had his First Holy Communion.
The church was packed, of course, and my parents (who were sitting in the back) observed a travesty going on: visitors from everywhere, rolling around in the aisles and swinging from rafters with cameras and tripods, waving like monkeys and gesturing to each other and all that. They acted like blind, thoughtless fools—let’s just say it. It doesn’t bother me, because I don’t think they knew any better because in all likelihood no one ever told them that people in Catholic churches ought to behave like Moses before the burning bush—because the burning bush signified that God was especially present, which meant that the ground all around it was holy ground. You shut up and listen in places like that—that’s the right response.
But whatever. Frankly, I turned them all off with an invisible dial on the side of my head that is connected to a mental filter that shuts out dumbness. My concentration was entirely on the Mass and my boy’s relation to it.
He was chosen to bring up the gifts. On his return from the altar his big, blue eyes found me—and he smiled the most natural, beautiful smile of all time.
And when he finally received (on the TONGUE, thank you—take THAT, Establishment That Hates Reception on the Tongue!!) I nearly fell over. I mean that literally, because there was some guy with a motorized tripod in the pew directly in front of me.
My boy was awesome. I know every parent thinks this way about their kid receiving First Holy Communion, but that doesn’t make it less true, does it? And to top it all off I suddenly realized that all my other little kids were craning their necks to see, all of them excited and fascinated, proud of their brother, eager to follow in his footsteps.
“Just keep bringing them to the table,”I heard a voice say in my head.
Yeah, that’s right: God spoke to me at that moment. Cool, huh?
And, no, I won’t admit to you that I got all choked up. That would just be plain embarrassing.
For everybody receiving the Eucharist for the first time, young or old: cherish it! It’s the greatest gift we have. It’s food, it’s medicine, it’s Life Himself in what appears to be—of all the ridiculous things—a piece of bread!!
That’s just deeply, deeply awesome.