For such a special day, it's always a cattle call. Eighty-two children received their First Holy Communion this morning at St. John the Baptist. Maria was one of them.
The girls always look better than the boys, partially because their options are so limited. All the girls pretty much show up in variations of the same thing - a fancy white dress, white tights, white shoes and usually a veil of some sort. There's no such uniformity among the boys - some of them wear ill-fitting polyester suits, others a shirt and tie, still others in polo shirts and khaki pants. If you can get an 8-year old boy to comb his hair you've accomplished something, so I guess that's not surprising.
Since I taught a Faith Formation class this year, I had an interest in all the kids in my class. Teaching kids at this age about faith, the life of Jesus and all the mysteries and miracles that are part of our beliefs can be tough. Six of my eight students -- Maria, Rachel, Lauren, Brady, Joey and Skye -- made their First Communion this morning and I hope that they were able to understand the magnitude of the event. They are a good group, if a bit rambunctious, and I hope that the gift they received today will help them as they develop and deepen their faith.
Maria was outfitted as she should have been. She had the nice white dress, the veil, the gloves, the shoes, even a cute little matching purse. She looked great, and pretty much identical to about 50 other girls milling around the big church. Since I was one of the parents responsible for watching the kids in the front pews, I was able to sit next to her during the Mass. Maria is rarely at a loss for words, of course -- not too many kids her age have two blogs. But as we sat there and listened to Father Skluzacek, she was quiet and pensive. I suspect she was nervous -- even though she was taking this journey with so many other children, I'm certain she felt that all eyes were upon her. Just before the Lamb of God, I turned to her.
"Are you ready?" I asked.
"I don't know, Dad," she replied, a little hesitantly.
"Well, Jesus is ready for you, Maria," I said.
She smiled a little bit, sighed a little and then smiled a little bit more. That's the memory I'll take away from this day. Jesus was ready for Maria, of course. He's ready for all of us.