Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Viva la Vida: My Second "First Communion"

My 2nd Grade class received their First Communion this weekend. It was a truly joyous day. Adding to that joy was seeing my own son Brandon receive Holy Communion for the first time and having my wife  Kendra with us throughout the year and especially on that day.

Of all of the years that I have taught Faith Formation (or CCD) this year was unique, and not just because of our special family involvement. In some ways, there were challenges that I had not had in the past and did not expect. There were a few instances that I may never understand. Yes, I am being vague on purpose.

But the children surprised me in really good ways. They were not afraid to ask questions about some not-easy-to-understand topics; you know, mysteries. Many of them liked to talk about particular word translations too. We had a great time through several classes comparing Mass with a time machine.

And you bet they were prepared to receive their First Communion; catechetically, spiritually, and rubrically. (Although my spell check does not like that word, I double-checked to ensure it's a word.) We bought our own box of unconsecrated hosts and used more than 300 of them in addition to what was supplied to us by the Parish.

It was really great to have Brandon sitting next to me at the Mass and watching each of my students receive for the first time. But after I received Communion and was thanking God for these children, for entrusting them to me, and for the renewed life He had given to me, a very undeserving character, I thought about my two First Communions.

I thought about my First Communion as a child about 38 years ago. I remembered at least one of the lessons and rehearsals and the excited anticipation of receiving the Eucharist for the first time. I remembered the priest, the church, my white suit. I remembered the party at my house afterward; the cake and at least 3 of my presents. Strangely though, I do not actually remember receiving Communion that first time or any of the Mass at all.

And then I thought about my second First Communion; the one about 6 1/2 years ago. It was November 2006, a little more than 2 years after my reversion to the Faith following more than a decade of absence to varying degrees.

Kendra was in RCIA and was dismissed after the Homily, so I sat alone, but more un-alone than I can explain. Nor can I explain the overwhelming anticipation that I felt as I approached Jesus in the Eucharist after so long. After Communion, Flashes of my life literally passed before me at one instant and the emotion of it all was too much.

No. I do not remember the actual act of receiving the Eucharist this time either. As hard as I try, I cannot. I'm a big sap for the nostalgic, but I can honestly say that not remembering either of these times does not sadden or bother me at all.

I think it's because these moments are part of the kairos as I wrote about here before.

A former pastor of mine once preached about chronos and kairos time. Very simply, chronos time may be explained by the answer to the question "What time is it?" while kairos time is better explained by the statement "I had a great time". While chronos refers to sequential time, kairos refers to a moment. 
In the Eastern Church, before the Liturgy begins, the deacon exclaims "Kairos tou poiesai to Kyrio"; which means "It is time for the Lord to act", recognizing the joining of our earthly and heavenly worship.
I sometimes think about how hard it was to go to Mass after Mass without being able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

I sometimes think about how many years I didn't think about it much at all.

I sometimes wonder why God would still want me after those years of rejecting Him. I wonder why He would want to use someone like me. This is too self-absorbed. God wants each of us. He calls each of us.

I just finally listened....and responded.

Viva la Vida (Live Life) is a running series of posts about my life experiences, meant to help me reflect on the "why's?" of who I am becoming through my ongoing conversion. The inspiration for the title comes from the Coldplay song.

Other posts in this series:

A Glimpse
Tribute to a man I never knew

What's in a Name?

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