October 26, 2011

L's First Holy Communion

"Can I have a little white cookie?"  L has asked this question frequently.  We have explained that she needs to have a better understanding of what that little white host is - Who it is - before she can have one for the first time.  We explained that she needed to better understand her faith before she could have her first holy communion.

Cut to the other day we were driving past a Catholic church and, like we usually do, we crossed ourselves and said, "Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ!"

"Why do we say that, Mommy?" my bright little 3 year old asked.

I explained what it means to praise someone, and why we call Jesus 'Lord' and 'Christ.' 

"Now that I know that can I have the Eucharist?"  It seemed she thought her formation was complete.

I asked why she wanted the Eucharist.  "So I can be like you and Daddy."  Not a bad answer but not the best so I dug a little deeper asking how she wants to be like us.  If she said she wanted to love Jesus like we do or grow in holiness or be a good Catholic then I would have considered talking to the priest. 

Instead she said, "I want to be able to pour my own cereal." 

Nope.  Not ready for Holy Communion.

I want to instill in my kids a deep love of God.  I want them to understand and appreciate the salvation He gained for them, the Sonship He has given them, and the Love He continually pours out to them.  I want them to know Scripture and believe that when Jesus says, "This is my body," he means it.  I want them to honor and worship that Body.  They Body which saved them.  I want them to know that "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man you have no life within you" and I want them to have eternal life. 

The Eucharist is a big deal to me.  I want It to be a big deal to them, too.

So you can probably imagine how upset I was when I found out that L had her first communion on Sunday.

The story goes like this:  Attending Mass with my parents, L got into the communion line with her arms crossed.  With my mom right behind her she got a blessing from the person distributing the Sacred Host.  She then walked over to the person with the cup.  Our parish rarely distributes from the cup so I'm not sure L even knew what was happening.  My mom, thinking L would receive a blessing, let her go.  The man leaned down to her, my 3 year old daughter with her arms across her chest - the universal signal of "I can't receive - give me a blessing", and he said,

"Do you want a sip?"

Whaaaaat?!!!?  This man is either poorly catechized, poorly trained, or both.  It's probably both.  The lack of reverence for our Eucharistic Lord is shocking and sad.  I'm upset that the man disregarded her size and crossed arms - he should have known that she was too young to have communion. 

So I called the church where it happened so they retrain the extraordinary ministers or something.  I also called my pastor, which I'm really glad I did.  He told me not to get really upset.  He merciful towards the man who had messed up (a good example for me) and he explained that while L had partaken in the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, and it had chronologically been her first communion it was not her First Holy Communion.  Father R. explained that since the intention of the priest and L was not for it to be her First Holy Communion it didn't, in some ways, count.  I should have realized that since intentions do count.

I'm still upset though.


  1. Bonnie, that would have bothered me so much as well. It's always good, though, when a third party can shed some light on how to forgive and give someone the benefit of the doubt. My husband is THAT person all the time.

    God understands what happened with Lydia. All in all...her desire for Communion is beyond sweet. How exciting for when she actually gets to receive (the right way)!

  2. Well, that sounds like an interesting experience! While I agree with you on the importance of the Eucharist and the reverence with which we receive it, I'm not totally in the camp that says we must be fully catechized to understand the meaning of the Eucharist to receive the Eucharist. After all, what second grader REALLY understands what she's receiving? (Or, for that matter, how many second-grade catechists really understand? But that's a topic for another day. Gah! Don't get me started on that!)

    See, WAYYYYY back in the day it was a Bishop's responsibility to confer sacraments of initiation (Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist, and in that order), and Bishops were few and far between for rural populations. As my husband (our resident Church historian) tells it, peasants and farmers would see the Bishop riding by on his horse, and they would rush out with their children (babies, small children, basically anyone who hadn't been initiated yet) and the Bishop would baptize, confirm and give first communion to them. It drives him (my husband) kind of crazy the way we do sacraments of initiation now, particularly confirmation, because it's like holding out a carrot and making them jump through a whole bunch of hoops (service hours, anyone?) to be *allowed* to receive the sacramental graces. Catechesis is important, but an argument can be made that receiving the sacraments first and then lifelong catechesis afterward would be the ideal.

  3. Wow! I think I would be upset about that too. I can't believe that and I'm sorry you are having to deal with this.

    I started to write in this comment about the whole receiving a blessing in the communion line thing. I think it is incorrect (it certainly isn't part of the rite)and not to mention the extraordinary ministers should NEVER give blessings. Anyway it was rambling on and on and thus: http://dacia-prayingtwice.blogspot.com/2011/10/i-just-read-this-post-by-bonnie-and.html

    I suggest an alternative, read it if you get a sec. :) Thanks for your blog, I love it!

  4. I agree with Lisa. I hope you will be at peace. It sounds like, by the questions she asks you, your little girl really wants to know our Lord and already has a sweet and innocent love for Him. Remember what Jesus said to the people when they were trying to keep the little children from Him -- and I'm sure those children didn't really understand Who he is. And while I think that she should, of course, not keep going to Communion every week, that this is definitely not something to be upset about. I'm sure Jesus was quite happy reposing in the heart of your innocent little girl.

  5. I was sort of thinking about this the other week, because I realized that my baby doesn't understand who Jesus is yet but he still receives Him every week through me. Nick assured me that it was OK and that it is part of the special bond mom and baby get to experience. Everytime I receive Jesus, I tell Him to give Clark a kiss for me. :)