"You will always have this…"

A Puffy-Eye’d Crybaby with Monkey Face

Inside Catholic is reposting something I’d forgotten that I’d written, and upon re-reading, I think it’s worth recommending to you:

I knelt at my seat, thanking and welcoming Jesus, as I’d been taught, and suddenly I was in the grip of something I had never felt before — an indescribable sweetness, an overwhelming sense of . . . what, exactly? I could not have then articulated the ringing sense, deep within myself, of “holy, holy, holy” like the peal of a bell. It vibrated up from my core, powerful enough to bring tears, and I did not hide them. I was not alone; beside me a pretty strawberry-blonde named Aileen also wept. Hearing her sniffles, I turned my head and we exchanged soggy smiles in perfect understanding. Something beautiful had happened, and everything leading up to it within the preceding hour — the music, the reverence, the bowed heads of our parents, the precision of the altar boys and the seriousness of the priests — had contributed to this singular moment, and had reinforced it, too.

Afterwards, still sobbing, I was led away from my classmates by Sr. Mary Alice, my second-grade teacher, who knelt before me and asked what was wrong.

“Sister, you have to make me repeat the second grade!” I told her.

“But why, dear?” She asked.

“Because I want to do that again!” I wailed. “And I can only make first Holy Communion in the second grade!”

I hope you like the piece.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Bill Archer

    I don’t like it; I LOVE it!

  • Lori

    I was baptized in the Catholic faith as an infant, but didn’t receive First Holy Communion until I was 18 yrs old…and I had the same reaction.

  • http://runswithangels.wordpress.com/ Team Bender

    What a sweet picture! There is not one photo of me receiving any of my sacraments, but I still have my First Holy Communion dress.

  • Fr Patrick

    What a truly lovely reflection. It reminds me of the bishop who ordained me, Thaddeus Shubsda. He was a lifer: 12 years of seminary training. He used to say that if they discovered his training was defective and he had to repeat it all over…he would do so immediately, so much did he love being a priest. Though I heard him tell this more than once, my eyes would fill with tears because I knew I felt the same thing. Thank you.

  • http://fineoldfamly.blogspot.com Sally Thomas

    Beautiful. We were received into the Catholic Church three years ago, and I had much the same reaction. I know it *is* this way whether I feel like it or not, but there are times when I do feel very powerfully that I’m getting to live a great and mystical wedding again and again, instead of only once. That is a gift beyond words, and sometimes I realize it powerfully enough to be weeping when the moment arrives.

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  • joan

    I would love to hear what the average child today has to say after their recent first Holy Communion 2010.
    Also, what are the teens at confirmation feeling and thinking?
    This would be an interesting survey and article to write, if it has not already been done?

  • Maria

    How DRAMATIC. You must be HOLIER than ANY if US.

    [It's not dramatic and I am not holy. It's just what happened. -admin]

  • http://rocscssrs.blogspot.com roc scssrs

    I’ve always thought First Holy Communion in second grade was way too early– maybe I’m wrong!

  • Sharon Graham

    #8and 9,what does your comment mean,if you please?

  • jan

    Repeat offender – (#8 and 9), and for the record, I’m the offended one here, not our hostess [Edited, sorry...couldn't have that. Know you meant well, Jan, but...just couldn't have that. :-) You understand -admin]

  • http://holydelight.blogspot.com Mary

    Wonderful! It brought back similar memories of my First Holy Communion.

  • Maria

    I KNOW.

    [What do you know, Maria? And please stop shouting, thank you. -admin]

  • Fuquay Steve

    I can still fit into my Holy Communion suit (my mom always bought clothes I could grow into) -I’m 55 yo.


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  • jan

    [Edited, sorry...couldn't have that. Know you meant well, Jan, but...just couldn't have that. :-) You understand -admin]

    So sorry! I’ll try to keep my ebullience in check from now on!

    But, please tell ‘em, I didn’t say anything bad, really! I have a rep to maintain :-)

    [You did not say anything bad. Just much too flattering. -admin]

  • http://rockportconservatives.blogspot.com/ Ruth H

    I see something sweet and beautiful. It is a wonderful thing you have retained your appreciation of that moment.

  • Jim Hicks

    One Sunday back in the 90′s, my wife was in our front yard when a neighboring Catholic family returned home from church. Their little boy, grinning from ear to ear, yelled to my wife: “I have Jesus inside me!” He had just made his first Holy Communion.

    Even in this day and age, some Catholic kids are learning the truth of what this is all about. And it still excites them!

  • http://fineoldfamly.blogspot.com Sally Thomas

    Joan — I’d be interested to know what my class of First-Communicants-to-be will be thinking and feeling. Not sure I will know much, alas, though they’re generally pretty forthcoming about things, like how many teeth they lost in the past week.

    My second-grader, who’s one of their number, made his First Confession two days before Christmas and remarked afterwards, “Does anybody else have fun at Confession?” He clearly had, and wanted to go again, like right away. Oh, to be a fly on *that* wall . . . I don’t want to hear his sins, just the tone of his voice, and what Father says to him in reply.

    [I'll never forget when my nephew emerged from his first confession and happily skipped over to his mother saying, "the priest told me to make an act of nutrition." That earned him a Happy Meal! -admin]

  • http://fineoldfamly.blogspot.com Sally Thomas

    And, heh. I thought maybe I was the one being melodramatically holy. My first comment laid it on a little thick. The truth is that I have to hold this image in my mind; otherwise I wake up back in the pew like the morning after in Vegas, going, “Wuh’d I just do?”

  • http://www.observantromancatholic.blogspot.com/ Ruth Ann

    You wrote beautifully about your First Holy Communion experience. Thank you for that. I sometimes reflect on mine, which I still remember clearly.

    One thing that stuck me as awesome was that we were permitted to walk past the communion rail and into the sanctuary, a place usually reserved for the priests and altar servers only. That, in itself, made the occasion memorable.

    Although I don’t recall crying, I did have the deep interior joy of realizing and believing I had received Jesus.

    When I returned to my pew I had been trained to cover my face with my hands and pray silently, which I earnestly did. (This was the common practice of the time.) Our pastor had asked us to say a Hail Mary for him when we had received our First Holy Communion. I did that, too.

  • Greta

    My now senior husband has his first communion picture on our dresser. He says when he sees it each day it reminds him of his first taste of our Lord. Our 3 year old grandson saw it the other day and asked who it was. Upon learning that it was his grandpa, he asked if he could take it down for a closer look. After pondering it for a while and the latest picture of grandpa and grandma, he gave it back and asked if his grandpa was a saint. His mother talks each night about a different saint of the day. I asked him what he thought about his grandpa being a saint. He asked if a saint was a saint every day or on some days could just be normal or some days grumpy. I replied that all saints had their thorn in the heel to overcome and many suffer terrible trials, but seem to do so with love and kindness as they offer up their pain to Christ. After a short pause he said that he suspected that grandpa was a saint because he was complaining the other day about his leg and when he got up he offered it up by saying “Oh Christ”.

    May our voice be converted to prayer by the wishes of a child. By the way, I think he is a saint and I am blessed to be married to him for over 45 years. He tells me that I am one for putting up with him. So each of us has a vote if it helps.

    [What a terrific story! -admin]

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