If there's one thing I've learned in
my 12 years of motherhood, it's
that you can often learn a lot by
just being quiet and listening.
That's exactly what happened when I
overhead a conversation between my
eight-year-old son, Alex, and some of
They were discussing what cool gifts
they all hoped they would be receiving
when they made their First Communion
this year. They listed everything
from video games to a new baseball
glove to "lots and lots of money" so
they could buy whatever they wanted.
Not surprisingly, no one mentioned a
prayer book, rosary or medal of their
To say I was a bit disheartened is an
understatement. My husband, Mark,
and I had worked hard to try to instill
in Alex the importance of taking this
next step on his faith journey. So, too,
had his teachers, judging by what Alex
had been telling us. But apparently that
didn't trump the latest gadgets on the
Refocusing on What Matters
It reminded me once again that as parents
we are in a constant battle with the
latest, greatest gadgets and trends presented to our kids—and of how important
it is to remind our kids of what
So Mark and I decided to ramp up
our efforts to emphasize the importance
of this big step along Alex's faith
journey, regardless of what he would
get at the party afterward. Our focus
became the sacrament he would be
receiving at his First Communion.
When most of us think of First Communion, we
probably picture little girls in white dresses and
veils. And while most girls do tend to follow this
custom, there is no requirement that the dress
be white. The same thing goes for veils. In fact,
any nice pastel dress is considered appropriate
for this occasion. White dresses and veils just
seem to be the custom that has caught on.
Many dresses are passed down through
generations, or constructed out of family
heirlooms, such as wedding dresses, as is the
case in my family.
For my first attempt at doing just
that, I asked Alex to recall for me all the
toys he had gotten for Christmas last
year. Much as I suspected, he could
remember only about half the gifts he
got, and admitted that some of them
had already been broken and discarded.
"Exactly," I said. "But the Eucharist
is a gift that is always there for you
whenever you need it or want it."
In the following weeks, I continued
to take advantage of every opportunity
I could find to point out to Alex how
the concept of Holy Communion connects
with and fulfills our daily lives.
We talked about how every time our
family gathered at our dinner table we
were reminded of the eucharistic celebration
at Mass. We discussed how the
nourishment we receive through the
body and blood of Christ at Communion
reflects our everyday need for
physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment.
Before long, Alex started catching
on to the connection between the
Eucharist and our everyday lives.
Relive the Moment
This month, as many children celebrate
their First Communion, you can mark
this special time in their faith lives by
taking part in some of the following
• Share pictures of your First Communion,
or those of other family members.
• Invite friends and family over for
dinner. Sit around and share good food
and conversation in the spirit of communion.
• If you are lucky enough to be celebrating
a First Communion in your
family this year, incorporate family history
into the celebration. Prepare family
recipes or decorate with pictures of
First Communions past. Invite as many
friends and family members as possible
to emphasize that this is a moment
worth celebrating with others.
• Talk with your child about taking
some of his or her First Communion
money and donating it to a worthy
• Say a prayer for those children
receiving their First Communion this