“Sisters Victoria and Marguerite did not want to make their First Holy Communion. Not like this! Such a fuss for what should be a sacred and private matter. Not a spectacle.

How the girls felt, had nothing at all to do with G_d, Jesus, the Holy Ghost or even the Virgin, Mary. They resented being forced to participate in a ceremony they believed missed the point of first communion, entirely,

Victoria and Marguerite’s parents, the nuns–all agreed the girls’ First Communion was awkwardly over-due. Both should have had their First Communions in the second grade, just as all the other children at St. Peter’s. They did not, because they moved around too much. Now that they were ‘settled’–according to their mom, it was time.

The 5th grader, Victoria, scowled, miserable in her sacrificial-white, hand-me-down dress. It belonged to the eldest sister, Mary Linda, who wore the dress at her First Communion. The painful ordeal worsened because of the dress, too tight and sleeves too short.

The third grader, Marguerite–the plump one–was feeling especially plump and out-of-place: surrounded by second-graders and their parents, who whispered about why they were just now making their First Communion.

Afterwards, they would go home, have a party to celebrate their communion-y-ness, with a yellow box-cake topped with bad, home-made powdered-sugar frosting.
Dad would drink a case of beer, Mom would pretend life was good.

Victoria and Marguerite would change out of their dresses, and play down by the creek.

Victoria would be Jesus, and Marguerite would be a sinner to be baptized. It was just play, but this play made them feel much closer to G_d than old, white dresses and little pieces of round, tasteless bread, dipped in sour wine.

  1. First Communion is an experience I missed, having been raised Buddhist. I can remember being jealous of the girls in my neighborhood who were going through catechism class and who got to wear those frilly white dresses. They, of course, thought I was nuts. I guess we tend to want what we don’t have, even if the people who have it tell you it’s no bed of roses.

    Much later in life, I became Episcopalian, aka “Catholic Lite,” and undertook my first communion as an adult. No white dress, however. No box cake. I did receive a copy of the New Oxford Bible, which I might still have, though I tend to read it as a historical or philosophical text rather than as the word of God.

  2. RichStine says:

    I actually liked my FC, not so much for the undo fuss, or even boxed cake, but the G_d aspect of it. I was a hyper-curious kid about G_d, and often was frustrated by adults ‘in-the-know”, who would not, or could not…answer my questions. I was correct to believe my questions and thoughts about the faith I was raised-in, were valid. Retrospectively, I am even more perturbed that the adults would brush my questions aside with lies for answers, or responses: “you’re too young to be thinking such thoughts” (often accompanied with an amused, ‘ain’t it cute’ look), or met with the response: “that’s just how it is, so quit asking.”

    I realize now, of course, I understand it had less to do with me, than it did, with each of them.
    I vocalized what they wondered. Or they figured I grow out of my curiosity.

    I never have. It wasn’t until I actually got my very own bible–besides the children’s story bible–as a young adult, that I was able to explore the bible. And other holy texts–to include the Qur’an, and many Buddhist writings.

    It all has had a most profound affect on me. I’ve chosen to be a Christian, although I fear I am not a very good one. I made this choice because there are specifics about Christianity, which for me, personally, feel right and true. (for me, personally–not preaching. If that were my calling in life, I’d preach. But I don’t think it is.If I should be wrong about that, I am confident that my G_d will let me know it!)

    I have, however, moved away from Catholicism, because I cannot reconcile the Church’s current stand where women are concerned. Eh. What to do? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Find a Episcopal church in your neighborhood? The Episcopal church I currently attend is filled with ex-Catholics who have the same qualms as you, but want the same liturgy they grew up with, “the bells and smells,” as one former Catholic I spoke with called it.

      (I’m assuming the smells refers to incense burned during the high holy days, like Christmas and Easter. My church doesn’t use it very often because people in the choir complain it makes them gag and they can’t sing. :D)

      I’ve tried to explain my decision to return to church to friends who are secular and who think I’m being irrational. I don’t buy into everything in the Nicene Creed, but I like the idea from John 3: 1-21 (the lesson from last Sunday) that God didn’t send Jesus into the world to condemn it, but to save it. God doesn’t want to pitch everyone into hell as the haters and fundamentalists claim, but save us from the hell we create for ourselves. He* loves what He created. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church really missed out on that message.

      *I’m using the male pronoun for simplicity’s sake. I’m not sure God has a gender.

  3. RichStine says:

    I appreciate what you’ve written. “Bells & Smells”…I get it. It’s a comfort. One of the many things about Catholicism, and those whose services are similar, that is missed by those who’ve never experienced them, is, of course, the tradition.
    A friend of mine — I’d like to think of fellow bloggers as such –has a really great blog, and while we don’t always agree on things, I really appreciate the blog and the incredible knowledge it shares. Check it out: http://churchmousec.wordpress.com/

    As to explaining why you go to church to secular or even fellow churchgoers who may not approve of your choice in church: real friends, secular, christian, whatever…real friends may have opinions about such things. But if they feel the need, once they’ve expressed their opinions and advice, should, as friends, leave it alone. You do not have to explain yourself to anybody.

    For the longest time I was ashamed to admit I am a Christian–not because of who Christ is, but for 2 other reasons. I was ashamed because: 1. I was behaving in ways I knew Christ would not approve of, and 2. Because of other nutty loudmouth zealots who claim to be followers of Christ, while everything they do or say is in complete opposition to the teachings of Christ. Like Westboro Baptist Church, pedophiles in robes, misogyny in His name, etc.

    I am no more responsible for others’ opinions or reactions to my faith, then they are, for mine.

    If somebody merely wants to argue philosophy, theology, simply because they want me to tell them they are right, and see me denounce my faith, it ain’t gonna happen.

    If somebody wants to know my reasons for having faith in this Jesus of Nazareth, I will do my best to explain. I just don’t have much use for self-righteous non-believers, any more than I do, self-righteous Christians. : )

    As to using male pronoun for G_d for simplicity, I think G_d would approve. ๐Ÿ™‚

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