Monday, April 30, 2007
I don't have my First Communion pictures (they're probably in one of the many, many albums at Mom's house), but I believe they were pretty standard. My godmother (Toodie) made a sheet cake and decorated it with tiny silver candies outlining a rosary. (I come from very pious stock.) I wore a white dress, white veil, white shoes, white gloves (we wore gloves to Church back then, too)...
This weekend, my niece Claudia received her First Communion. She didn't have a rosary outlined on her cake, but it did say "God bless Claudia." And she wore a white dress, white veil, white shoes... (no gloves, though). I got the first photos on my cell phone right after Mass, and shared them with the other choir members, who dutifully oohed and ahhed. One of the altos commented that she didn't have a white dress for First Communion; her mom said she would get a fancy dress for her wedding day.
All well and good, but there is a little something that our culture, I think, doesn't quite "get" about the white dress, because to our eyes, it looks like a wedding dress. No, it's not a bridal gown, but a christening gown! The white attire for First Communion is meant to remind us of the white baptismal garment that we are given when we are drawn from the font (which is why I am posting a picture of Claudia next to a font of running water). Eucharist is a sacrament of initiation: it is, in fact, the "completion" of initiation (no matter what they tell you about Confirmation). Eucharist signifies the fullness of initiation; the three sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist--technically in that order) bring us all the way into the Church, and the Eucharist continues to support us in the life that was begun in Baptism.
Posted by Sr Anne Flanagan at 8:41 PM