“Will I get to wear my dress and stand on the pew?”
Leave it to the second grader to ask the most important questions. As I write, we are mere days away from her First Communion. Our parish has a tradition of having the First Communicants wear their white dresses (or white ties, as the case may be) not just to Saturday’s First Communion but also to their first Sunday Mass the next day, and then also to the parish May Procession the following Tuesday. And then, to top it all off, at those latter two occasions, our former pastor would invite the First Communicants in their adorably elegant outfits to stand on top of the pew — the only time they’d ever be allowed to do so! — and receive acknowledgement and prayers from their fellow parishioners.
We are between pastors right now, though. We don’t know what will happen on Sunday or Tuesday. My husband and I know, however, that standing on the pew and receiving applause really isn’t supposed to be the focus of these days. As a parent trying to raise my kids to faith in Jesus, and Him crucified, and Him present to us in the humble Eucharist, I feel my spine stiffen when my kids focus on the externals.
“I can’t wait for First Communion!” she says. “I can’t wait to wear my dress!”
“You know that you’re receiving Jesus, right?” I ask.
She nods, suddenly solemn. She knows. Still, she’s fired up about the dress and the shoes and the party.
“I can’t wait for the May Procession!”
“You know that it’s about honoring Mary, right?”
She nods, but I can see in her eyes that she’s not dreaming of more Rosary time with the Mother of God but instead of the parish’s traditional free Italian ice party held in the cafeteria afterwards.
It’s moments like these that make me turn with rolled eyes to Jesus and say, “Are You sure you want us to approach You like little children?”
And He does. He made Mary our mother for a reason. The Father adopted us as children for a reason. We are children, even those of us who “know better” what First Communion is supposed to be. We are children still, gray hairs and all, because we are always growing, always works-in-progress, always on a procession towards Our Mother, crown in hand, processing towards those moments where we crown others and stop crowning ourselves.
Do I really “know better?” Or do I need to become little again and let my eyes light up with the exuberance of the whole glorious experience? After all, given the unknowable depth of it all, is my understanding really that much closer than my second grader’s to the heart of the mystery of the Eucharist and of Mary’s mystical motherhood of us all? Do I bring that delight and expectation to my prayer time? Do I show it to my family when we gather for our daily Rosary?
In this month of May Crownings and First Communions, may we stop and humble ourselves before the pure, immediate joy our children experience in these things. Maybe don’t stand on the pew about it (well, unless your pastor asks you to, I guess?), but remember that it’s called a “procession” for a reason: because young or old, dressed up or dressed down, we are always in the process of growing closer to Our Lord.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
What are some of the things that bring your children exuberance and joy? How can you see God’s love for them and you in that joy? How can you bring that joy into family prayer time through the mysteries of the Rosary?
Copyright 2018 Erin McCole Cupp