Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Holy Communion rant

That's probably a bad title, because what I'm about to tell you can easily be seen at other church events. Pick one: wedding, confirmation, baptism, funeral. It's there.

Look at the irony: we spend weeks teaching the 2nd grade children that the Eucharist is an amazing gift from God, and that every church has the Eucharist kept in the Tabernacle, and that, when we are in the presence of the Tabernacle, that Jesus can see and hear us and we can speak to him. We teach them that the day they receive their 1st Holy Communion will be a truly special day, and that they should behave in a way that shows they understand it is a special day. We rehearse them to walk in a solemn procession, to keep their hands folded together in a prayerful gesture, to stand and sit and kneel at the proper times, to receive the Blessed Sacrament properly (either tongue or hand), and then to go back to their seat and reflect on that great gift in silence. Of course, we tell them not to spend the Mass speaking to the children on either side of them.

Then, the day of the Mass comes. The kids are fine. The grown ups? THEY SUCK!

I'll leave it at that.


8 comments:

larrycollins3 said...

I had the same experience at the First Communion on Saturday. The children were fine but their parents made so much noise in the church I wanted to call them to order, I doubt that I will see them for a few years (maybe when their child makes Confirmation); I didn't want them to leave with a bad experience.

Ellen said...

I was the RE coordinator in my parish for many years. I know exactly what you mean.

My son received his First Communion about 13 years ago. it was held during Sunday mass so the children sat in the first few pews and the parents and family had to find seats among the usual attendees of that mass. We were (and still are) faithful attendants at mass every week, and were lucky to get seats in church - six pews from the back of the church. The front pews were taken by the parents who never attend mass and who wouldn't set foot inside the church until their next child received a Sacrament. It "sucked" too.

Barb, sfo said...

EXactly.

I remember one year when I was assisting with the children's choir. These kids had been reminded that they were up front, should behave properly in church, etc. They were astonished at what they saw happening in the pews. I just told them, "Well, you're the ones up front. You can give the example of how someone should behave in church." The kids did great!
It helped this year that our parish is having First Communion during Sunday Masses over 2 or 3 weeks. Only a few kids per Mass, and it's been very nicely integrated. Less "zoo," more focus on the sacrament.

Wendy said...

This is, unfortunately, the sad truth, Father. I think it has a lot to do with the attitude that many young adults and adults have: that they're somehow "home free" once they've "got all the sacraments." Little do they know that the sacraments are a means of grace, and a means through which we are initiated into, and continue to practice, the faith. It took me some time to understand this, too, until Pre-Cana forced me to confront it all.

By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed (and howled with laughter) at Fr. Philip Neri Powell's "The Roman Catholic Church is not WalMart."

ProudCatholic said...

LOL. I am only laughing at your blatant and refreshing honesty. But of course it's more sad than funny. It's the same at confirmation. What drives me even crazier is when parents failed we used to be able to rely on the grandparents to toe the line and even everything out. Now many of them are even as bad or worse than the parents. My early years in Catholic school still had the strictness, the nuns, the brothers and priests who bestowed on you the sense of awe, respect, wonder at the sacraments, at church, at God himself--here's news for critics..it didn't make me hate religion, it didn't turn me off or stop me from going to church. On the contrary, I thank God each and every day for how they brought me up on the faith (along with my parents). This baloney spread by many of the older people that "those nuns" and that strictness have driven people away could not be further from the truth. It's merely an excuse for people's lack of faith, or laziness. Proof of that is someone like John Paul and the generations that are endeared to him who seem to crave the tradition. Sacredness needs to come back, awe needs to come back, respect needs to come back. Of course we can lead horses to water but can't make them drink. All we can do is keep leading them and PRAY! ALOT!

ProudCatholic said...

You are thankfully a wonderful example but some priests don't help the cause either.
Here's one for the books, i was at a Mass outside of this diocese yesterday where the priest actually took a phone call (not an emergency either, chatted in another language for about two minutes and chuckled about it) during the homily, forgot to finish the Our father and just had a weird demeanor in other parts. We're not supposed to judge but I had to believe he was either smashed, has something wrong with him or judging by comments i heard from him before that he just thinks such things are fine and dandy to be "relaxed." Reminds me of that old adage from Chaucer: If gold rusts, what will the iron do? What the heck is going on?

JFlans said...

I have spent a couple summers teaching a 2 week summer confirmation class at my home parish to students who are well-intentioned, but have little idea what Catholicism is about. One summer I taught with some well-meaning mothers who wanted to avoid the "tough stuff" in favor of simply getting across the meaning that "we need to be comfortable in church" and "God Loves us" - sentiments which may be true, but which leave something to be desired. The course thus fell outside of my control, and these mothers decided to have the kids make rosaries, do a scavenger hunt of the sancturary, and tutoring younger children about Noah's ark. So it is hardly a surprise the Pastor was angry when the kids didn't know how to behave during Mass or when I told a student (who is about to be confirmed) to be respectful of the Eucharist, their response was "Whats that?" Religious Education of Children AND Adults needs to be reformed if we want to grow as a church.....


- JWF, Annandale NJ.

Kat said...

It's funny sometimes, adults need to learn a thing or two from children. Parents pay a lot of money for their kids to go to school in order to learn about Christ, learn to pray the rosary, have their first holy communion, and basically know the proper behavior inside the Church. But the parents themselves don't practice this. I often see adults falling asleep while the Mass is on-going and even text messaging while the priest is delivering his sermon. We have to find a way to change this attitude of making the Mass just a routine because it isn't and it shouldn't be.