This time of year always reminds me of my First Holy Communion and Confirmation. I was raised Roman Catholic and in our area both of these events are done in the April-May time frame. At least they were when I was growing up.
The best part about these events was that you got to wear a brand new white frilly dress with a special headpiece. For my First Holy Communion, it was a veil just like a bride. I was in heaven. New white patent leather shoes too. Can it get any better than this at age 7?
The first Holy Communion was really special because it was the first sacrament that you received other than baptism where you had no idea what was going on.
For this you had to learn stuff and memorize stuff. It was very heady and I took it all seriously. I was intent on going to heaven.
After months of classes, you prepare to give your first confession. In the Catholic Church you confess to a priest who gives you absolution for your sins. That was very scary.
The priest at my school church was not nice. He scared me so much I had nightmares. Now I had to tell him all the bad things I did. Worse than that, they gave me a list of sins to review to be sure I didn’t miss anything.
You must be honest or you won’t go to heaven. The nuns drilled that into us. If you tell the truth, God will forgive you. No one wanted to tell the priest. God yes, the priest no.
My school friend and I studied the list of sins very carefully. There was no way we weren’t going heaven. We had studied it, sung about it and dang we were going there. We were going there when we died of course which we were hoping was a long ways away.
Time is very long when you are seven. It could be centuries before you were old enough to die.
Back to the list, it had such things as adultery, suicide, and a couple other things that we weren’t quite sure what they meant. What should we do? We decided to err on the side of caution and confessed to them all. God would give us extra points for an honest effort.
To this day I wonder how many kids preparing for their first communion confess to incredibly grievous sins. I also wonder what went on at the Friday night poker game that the priests go to after confessions.
I imagine the conversations go something like this:
How was your week Bob? (priests are allowed to call other priests by their first names)
I heard the first confessions of 20 kids. It took forever!
That must have been fun! I expect there were a few adulterous kids, multiple suicides, some gluttony. some bigamy and a couple who were coveting their neighbor’s spouse.
Yep, that’s about it.
At this point the whole group chuckles and someone says, “You know it never gets old!”
I don’t care what went on there. I got to wear the white frilly dress with patent pumps and I was sure I was going to heaven.