This arrived with perfect timing. … I work with families of children preparing and so many times I witness that they have put their focus on the dress, the party, the cake, the photographer, etc, even putting the focus on the children having a pageant like experience….I love this paragraph [of your post] “Because when you take away the pretty dress and the pretty hair, the veil, the crown, the gloves, and the festivities, what’s behind it all is Jesus. At First Communion, we’re not celebrating our children so much as we’re celebrating him — the God of Love who took flesh and blood in order to bring us eternal life. Our eyes and our hearts should be turned to him.” AMEN!!!
Scabbed heads, burned faces, and stomach viruses might not seem like a lucky start to my fourth child Marguerite’s First Communion day. Poor Marguerite tripped over the curb at school a few days before her First Communion and went flying up, up, up, and then down onto the pavement. Scabbed knees, scabbed hands, but the worst was a big scab on her forehead right by her hairline. Not the best for close-up shots.Then there was my husband’s burned face. He got scalded in the shower (horrible, I know — how did that happen?), and the entire left side of his face was covered by a reddish-purplish burn. To disguise it, we had to decide between a Phantom of the Opera style mask, a Middle Eastern veil, or Loreal True Match foundation. We went with the foundation. The whole unfortunate event reminded my husband of the time in high school that he let his brother Tony cut his hair.
Hair buzzer: “Skkkrrt.”
Left with a bald spot in the back of his head, my husband colored it in with a black magic marker so no one would notice. See the parallels? But I digress.
Finally, there was the matter of my younger daughter Cecilia’s stomach virus. I’ll spare you the gory details, but they were — gory. None of the guests invited to the First Communion party was willing to set foot in the house plagued by such an unpleasant virus.
My mother-in-law mourned the absence of a full-scale shindig like we had for our other children’s First Communions. It doesn’t matter, I told my mother-in-law, Marguerite will have a party with Jesus. Because when you take away the pretty dress and the pretty hair, the veil, the crown, the gloves, and the festivities, what’s behind it all is Jesus. At First Communion, we’re not celebrating our children so much as we’re celebrating him — the God of Love who took flesh and blood in order to bring us eternal life. Our eyes and our hearts should be turned to him.
So we might not have been able to bring Marguerite to his altar without blemish or spot (Eph. 5:27). We might not have been able to bring ourselves that way either. But all the minor calamity took our minds off of what we were bringing Jesus and made us focus on what he was giving us — freely, undeservedly, despite our inner and outer flaws, and despite the masks we wore to cover them. We cannot possibly merit the gift of God sacrificing himself for us on the altar or on Calvary so many centuries ago. We can only receive it with humility and devotion. Realizing the enormity of God’s gift in the Eucharist is what made Marguerite’s First Communion the luckiest — the most blessed — of all.