Fonticulus Fides

Thursday, April 26, 2007

On Zooey's First Communion

Zooey's First Holy Communion was last Saturday and I've only just now collected my thoughts enough to write about it.

I was so excited for him. I mean, really. The month or so of preparation following First Penance found me more and more anxious for the day to arrive. We spent some time talking about the spiritual aspect of it, especially as we prepared his banner for the parish hall.

The banner, by the way, is a story in and of itself. Zooey originally asked me to help him recreated daVinci's Last Supper in felt! Flattered as I was by his confidence in me, I thought it over and did some sketches for a few days and finally told him to design something else.

He chose to make it look like a stained-glass window, with a cross at the top, then the Eucharist right over a chalice, with a sheaf of wheat on the left and a bunch of grapes on the right. We got some iron-on fusing, brightly colored felt and set to work. First we cut the whole thing out of newspaper, adjusting things where we needed to, and then we cut the pieces out of felt.

There is some symbolism there. Around the cross are 12 radiating blocks of color to represent the 12 apostles. And the chalice has 7 gems because Zooey is 7 years old. The whole thing turned out rather well, and he was quite proud of it, especially because he'd been allowed to use the iron for the first time (for the fusing -- it's really easy. You fuse the stuff on one side of your felt, cut out the shape, then peel off the paper. Then just place it on the other fabric and press with a hot iron for 15-20 seconds. Easy!)

Zooey wanted a suit for his First Communion, and I had spent some weeks on eBay, tracking them, and finally figured out that I could buy a new one on sale for less than I could buy a used on on eBay once the shipping costs were figured in. So we made a trip to Kohl's while they were on sale and bought him a nice single-breasted black suit. He'll be able to wear it for the wedding he's going to be in next January, too.

I already had a shirt, a white Ralph Lauren that I'd found at a thrift store some months earlier. Perfect shape and only 99 cents. The shoes also came from a thrift store for just under $3 and were hardly worn at all. They are a size too big, but he'll grow into them and they worked fine.

Then Zooey told me he wanted a bow tie. I was dubious at first, but he asked for it again and again. I went all over trying to find one and came up with only with some wedding-ugly ties. Finally, I stopped in a vintage clothing shop and found one by chance. It's black, navy and kelly-green plaid, exactly what Zooey wanted.

I had to learn how to tie a bow-tie myself, but it turned out to be easier than I thought. Especially with the help of this You Tube video.

My husband kept warning me that Zooey was going to back out of wearing the bow tie. I kind of agreed with him, but Zooey was so insistant. I even took him shopping for regular neck ties, and he didn't want one.

Until 9 p.m. the night before First Holy Communion, of course. I was doing one final practice at tying the bow tie, and Zooey said, "Mom? I don't want to wear a bow tie." At nine o'clock the night before -- twelve hours before he was due at the church with not a store left open!

Fortunately, my husband rarely throws anything away. He disappeared into the basement and came back with about 15 ties from the 1980s, the last "skinny tie" era. Zooey picked out a dark red one with a small black and white design and was thrilled to be wearing one of his dad's ties. Even though the back tail was tucked into his shirt and ran down his pants to about his knee. But he was happy, so we were happy.

On Saturday, I warned Zooey that I was going to take way too many pictures and we all donned our nicest clothes and headed over to the church. Zooey looked splendid in his suit, as did the other boys. And the girls were all just lovely in their veils. Like I said, I took way too many pictures...but not just of him. I kept snapping away at those little girls, too.

Then it was time. We took our seats with dozens of other beaming parents, grandparents and godparents. The children processed in before the acolyte -- Zooey and Lea first, then the other kids all behind them.

Andrea was the last child in line, and instead of filing into a pew, she went up to the podium to read the welcome. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," she began.

That's when I lost it. I just started crying. As I said in my last post, I'd been crying all week anyway. But those words always get to me, and they did so especially on this day when my oldest child would receive our Eucharistic Lord!

I calmed myself down enough to mouth the words to the opening hymn. But it wasn't long before I lost it again. Zooey had the first reading, from Isaiah 55. He read beautifully, and I was so proud of him.

I wasn't sure what the other parents would do when it was time for the children to go up to receive the Eucharist. Two of my friends had kids receiving First Holy Communion this year, and one had shown me photos, while the other said their pastor would not allow them to take pictures. But when Zooey and Lea exited their pews and started walking up to Father D, the parental papparazi sprang into action. I made my way to the front left side and joined them. Zooey was all serious...all the kids were.

All the rest of it was kind of a blur. Zooey was elated, so was I. We took more pictures with him and his friends at the reception aftewards. Then it was back to our house for lunch. Many of the non-Catholic relatives showed, and his godmother came despite her very long week with her own daughter's First Communion and her dad's wake and funeral.

It was a lovely, lovely occasion, and I'm looking forward to the next two. Although I should note, our Catholic paper ran a full-page article about Bishop Olmsted's work in Arizona to change the Sacraments back to their original order. They are confirming at the 3rd grade now and the kids are receiving their First Penance and First Holy Communion after that. I take this to be a sort of "priming the pump" for the Diocese of Lincoln, though I expect it won't happen until after Bishop Bruskewitz retires. Who knows, though...

Anyway, I am grateful to God for a most wonderful Sacrament celebration for my son!



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