Thoughts on our little boy’s First Communion day

This weekend our younger son made his First Holy Communion.

Our parish church was full of dozens of second graders, all dressed up, shivering with excitement, waiting to receive Jesus for the first time.

Next to me was our handsome 8-year-old boy in khaki pants, a navy blazer, a striped tie, hair carefully parted and slicked to the side, all full of nerves and enthusiasm for the day.

Months ago my husband and I worried a little. Was he ready? Would he be ready? Receiving the Eucharist for the first time isn’t something to do lightly. So we have read and prayed and talked. And we have trusted. In the end, our son made clear that he understood.

“Does the bread and wine become Jesus’ Body and Blood?” I would ask.

“Of course,” he would say, with his usual positive assurance.

Of course.

Years ago, we weren’t sure we would ever be parents. We finally traveled to China—not once, but twice—to adopt our sons, who are brothers. I still marvel at how our family came together.

When you adopt a child who is already a toddler, you aren’t there for many firsts. You miss the first smile, the first laugh, the first steps, the first real food, the first tooth, the first words.

But there are so many other firsts—so many wonderful ones you do experience with your child. And, as our First Communicant walked toward Jesus in our church—our son’s church, the church he knows the best, the church where he feels so at home—it occurred to me that we were celebrating his First Communion on Birthmother’s Day, which is widely celebrated on the day before Mother’s Day.

Of course.

I couldn’t have been prouder as my husband and our older son and I followed our baby boy—so tall and mature all of a sudden—up the aisle to receive Communion. And when he received Jesus, my heart and eyes were full. It was this magnificent moment, one I want to hold onto for many, many years.

I like to think I never take the Eucharist for granted. But there is something so extraordinary about introducing your child to your faith. It renews and challenges you. It forces you to delve deeper. This year has been an amazing journey toward Jesus for our second grader, but it has also been a time for our whole family to grow in faith.

And I’m grateful for all of it.

Of course.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.