Our son’s First Communion: A day I didn’t want to miss

Even before our kindergartener got out of bed yesterday, he said, “This is one of those days I just really don’t want to miss the day.”
He was so right.
Reason #1: It was the day of his first baseball game—because thanks to rain, rain, rain, and a broken thumb, he had not been able to play in a single game.
Reason #2: It was the day his big brother would receive the Eucharist for the first time.
The morning was a blur. All of a sudden we were at the church greeting family and friends who had come to celebrate the man of the hour. Our First Communicant wore a gray blazer and a tie with chalices on it, khaki pants, and a pair of Star Wars socks I didn’t notice until I saw one of the pictures hours later. He was so handsome and focused and ready.

Some of the children had roles in the Mass. Our son’s job was to carry the book to the altar for the priest to use for the consecration. The red book, which I believe is called a sacramentary, looked huge in his hands. He carried it carefully to the altar, bowed reverently, and walked down the steps to our pew.

I didn’t take this picture because we were told not to take photos during the Mass.
But it exists, thanks to a rebellious relative of mine, so here it is.

Seeing him participating so fully in the experience of the Mass was amazing. As I watched him walk down from the altar after carrying the book, my eyes were full of tears. And toward the end of Mass when our pastor told the children to turn and thank their parents, my eyes filled again.
There is something so beautiful about watching your children grow. And seeing our children grow in our faith is extraordinary, easily the most rewarding aspect of parenthood. I don’t know how well I’m doing with this parenting thing, but at least we’ve made it this far.
As wonderful as our children’s baptisms were, those days were a sign of the faith we were choosing for them. Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is a huge step on our son’s own individual faith journey. It reminds me that my role is an important one, but ultimately this is his path. I feel so blessed that my husband and I are walking alongside him as he grows.
That evening I was thinking back over the day. It hadn’t been the day I expected. We were surrounded by family and friends, and our children had a wonderful time. All four of their grandparents were with us, which was such a gift, one we definitely do not take for granted. So many, many blessings.

But, as with any day where you have too many expectations, I had a few disappointments, too. I didn’t actually get to see our son receiving Communion because there were so many people in the church, and I was a few people back behind him in line. We weren’t able to take a single family photo the whole day or even get a picture with one of the priests. Come to think of it, we didn’t even drive to and from the church as a family. But the focus of the day was the Eucharist—and our son’s encountering Jesus in that way for the very first time. So the day was absolutely a win.
During Communion at Sunday Mass today, I received just before our son did. As I walked away, I glanced over my shoulder and saw him receiving the host, Our Lord, into his palm, for the second time in his life. He looked so mature, so natural, so at ease. It was as beautiful and as miraculous as any moment I experienced on his First Communion day.
I thought, maybe, just maybe, seeing him make his second Communion was better than seeing him make his first. His First Communion was, after all, just a beginning.
Besides, it’s not the first time I’ve missed a “first,” and I wouldn’t trade any of the times I have been there only for the seconds or thirds or sixteenths.
His little brother is so right. This is a day I really don’t want to miss.
And so is tomorrow.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.