Sunday, May 04, 2008
First Communion Season
Tonight (Saturday evening) was the first round of First Communions, and I was TERRIFIED! I knew that I had volunteers at the church, which was wonderful because I had my Adoration hour today and still left early so as to get to the church by about 4:30. As soon as I got to my office, I saw I had messages so checked them to be sure it wasn't something important.
One was not. The other...was from my main volunteer. She does this every year, she is an expert, and the expectation set was that she was going to show me how this was done. I had everything in place, but as you know...what happens on paper does not necessarily pan out in action. I was clueless. That made me terrified.
But that's OK...I prayed my desperate rosary en route from adoration to the Church, keeping the Wedding at Cana in mind, begging our Blessed Mother to take charge.
And then I got the message, which I listened to in horror as it sounded like the volunteer was not going to be there, she'd called yesterday, said she'd be there on Sunday, while in my mind I was thinking, "WHAT ABOUT TODAY?!" I was thinking no one was there...how would I get everything ready by the time Mass started? I didn't even know what to DO!
And finally, at the end of her long message she said she'd be there tonight at 4. I nearly fell to the floor in a puddle of relief. Thanking God.
She indeed had things in place and explained some details to me as our First Communicants arrived. They were so sweet, so excited, and so nervous! They found their reserved pews and we explained the details for the last time, making sure the parents understood so they could cue the children at important points...like the Offeratory.
I had to run to the sacristy for a last-minute thing, and Father was also doing his last-5-minute-preps (whatever those are...I didn't stay to find out...). As I rushed in and out of the sacristy, I said, "I don't know who's more nervous...them or ME!" Father just laughed at me as I flew back into the church.
My volunteers were laughing at me, too. Both were going to leave as soon as things were in place (since I was there) as they will be there tomorrow as well. One had to go, the other said she could stay until we were done with the Offeratory as she had to join her daughter that evening, and had just come in to help get things set up. But she took pity on me in my nervousness, realizing it was my first Mass, and thank God she did! When the children came back during the Offeratory we did still have to go up and cue a couple of them, and then direct traffic back to the altar.
I returned to my pew and watched from there, tears in my eyes. In fact, during the responsorial I teared up pretty good but managed to not actually cry. I've put so much into helping these kids prepare for this moment! I've worked so hard with their parents especially, to prepare THEM, to impress upon THEM the significance of this day. And I don't know if I succeeded with a single one. Those who are converted could have done this on their own. The others who are not, well...I don't think I did a single thing that reached them. So as the tears came to my eyes, it was just as much joy for the children receiving Jesus for the first time as it was my angst in hoping that somehow, that grace overflows and changes them forever, too.
But there's nothing I can do, other than pray. And those prayers went to the altar with the gifts.
It was very moving, and I was so proud of those little ones!
Tomorrow we have even more at the morning Mass, and in the succeeding weeks...even more. All year, I've been complaining somewhat at the number of First Communion Masses, the difficulty in organizing it, and all the stuff that goes with it. But tonight I realized that if we had 50+ First Communicants and their families at the same Mass...OY! I think the Archbishop is wise to ask us to do things this way.
And it IS more meaningful and less of a pageant.
And you know....I learned yesterday that participating in a First Communion Mass actually gives occasion for a Partial Indulgence (or Plenary Indulgence? someone correct me.) In any case, I'll take whatever Indulgences I can get!
I'm still nervous, though, for tomorrow's Mass will be bigger, more crowded, more kids, more families... * sigh *
SUNDAY UPDATE: The morning Mass went even better than the first, in spite of the fact we had more children there, more families, but we also had more help. And God blessed us...it is all about HIM!