In a little over two weeks, I will be the mother of a child old enough to ingest the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I also like to call this the legal Catholic drinking age. First Communion is a BIG deal. Not only does it signify the point at which a child is finally able to actively participate in all parts of the Mass, but it’s also the first of only two times a girl can wear a veil in public without people thinking she is a deranged lunatic. (Actually, Grace isn’t wearing a veil; she’s wearing a wreath of flowers. And it was totally her choice…because it was the only choice I mentioned to her. I was afraid that if she looked too much like a child bride, my husband would move up her nunnery induction date from the day she turns sixteen to, well, tomorrow.)
We’ve had First Communion Fever at our house lately. I’ve been running around like a mad woman, prepping for the big day. Order wreath. Check. Send out invitations. Check. Plan food for the party. Check. Figure out the design for the cake. Check. Meet with seamstress about G’s dress. Check. Help G with her banner. Check. Meet with banner committee to put together the class banner for church. Check. Find shoes. Check…oh crap, too big. Uncheck.
Grace, on the other hand, has been doing the prep that really matters, as evidenced by the fact that she asked me to “play church” the other day. All I have to say is, I’d join her parish in a heartbeat.
Mass began with the first reading from the Book of Mom’s Sleepy Time Tales of The Story of Three Billy Goats Gruff (cue the Church Lady: “Was it a troll, or could it be SATAN?”), followed by a second reading of a poem about band-aids. Then we were treated to a poem called “Chester” from the Gospel of Shel Silverstein, after which Grace gave her homily: “I have no idea what that’s about.” Honest, simple, and short. My kind of homily. Even Michael found himself entertained, which rarely happens with him at church.
I was feeling so good about how quickly this whole thing was playing out that I didn’t even mind when Fr. Grace started passing around the collection basket…and expected me to fork over some real money. I gave her a quarter. Just consider me the poor woman who cast in all that she had, unlike the rich who only gave from their surplus. Or something like that.
Next it was time for the Eucharist. When Grace informed me that she was “really good at turning water into blood and bread into body,” I made the mistake of assuming she was pretending to have those skills. When I stated what I thought we both knew was a fact, that only a real priest can perform the Eucharist, church suddenly took a turn for the ugly. The poor thing was heartbroken, and she started crying at the realization that despite her little prayer, all that sat on the table was ordinary bread and red water. I blame her Catholic school. Hello?? Isn’t this what I’m paying you to teach her? I expect a deduction on my next tuition payment. Don’t laugh at me like you think I’m joking. I’m not. …Whatever.
I was finally able to get the “mass” back on track by agreeing with her that her prayer at the very least made the bread and water holy. It’s debatable, but I had other things to do. Let’s get the show on the road. So Michael and I processed up to receive Communion from the Snuggie-clad Grace. Then we sat down while she sprinkled us with holy water from a bath poof.
Fr. Grace was just about to offer the final blessing when Michael realized that Grace never got to take Communion. So he offered to be the priest. What a sweet and kind little brother, moved by the Holy Spirit no doubt. But as he put on the Snuggie, he let out an evil laugh and said, “I want de blood…he, he, he, he.” Typical. Then he took all the money OUT of the collection basket, handed me a quarter and said, “Body of Christ.”
I think Catholic school tuition will be well worth it for him.