I cried yesterday. At church. Totally unexpected. Totally spontaneous. This is what happened. My church is large. It seats 1500 in the pews with room in the back for rows of folding chairs. There is a center aisle that leads toward the altar. At the Offertory, the time during Mass, when lay persons carry up the host and wine for consecration and the ushers follow with the collection.
Yesterday, four children were to receive their first communion. They stood at the back of the church, the little girls in their white dresses, shoes and stockings and the boys in shirts and ties. All four were line abreast and given the ciborium full of hosts and the bottle of wine. They stood quietly, unsure of themselves. Then the ushers gave them the signal to walk down the aisle toward the altar. As they walked, their families followed them. And I burst into tears.
It is a lovely little ceremony. Something the children will remember.
It reminded me of my first communion.
We were in the Filipino Club. It was December 8, 1942. Father William McCarthy, MM, had already baptized my brothers and me and had heard our first confessions. Mass, as usual, was to be held outdoors, in the covered lanai. Auntie Billie had made little pillows for all three of us to kneel on. Otherwise we would kneel on the cement floor. All the Catholics in camp were there. We three were the center of attention that day.
Baptism, confession and first communion, all on the same day. It was confusing, exhilarating, and somewhat frightening.
I remember that day, just one out of all the days we were in the Filipino Club. It made an impact.
So yesterday, in church, watching those four children all dressed up for their first communion clothes, excited, solemn, and feeling important, made me cry. Cry for what had been. Cry for the people involved who are now all dead. Cry for the little girl who made such a large commitment, never regretted.