When I Was a Child: Children's Interpretations of First Communion

By Susan Ridgely Bales | Go to book overview

four
connecting to parish and family

The church suddenly became unusually quiet for a sanctuary filled with more than three dozen seven- and eight-year-old children. I turned in the pew toward the back of the church and immediately understood the reason for the sudden hush. Father Briant, who was carrying the brightly colored vestments of the Catholic Church, was walking down the aisle to the altar. Within moments he stood in front of the children, who were squeezed into the first three pews on the right side of the sanctuary, where Ms. Fabuel had asked them to sit after they had finished practicing genuflecting. Father Briant asked the class, “How many people celebrate Thanksgiving?” I watched as white and brown hands flew into the air. “How many have turkey?” he continued with a warm smile. All the hands went up again. “How many celebrate birthdays?” Many communicants now started to giggle as they raised their hands once more. “How many have cakes?” The giggling grew louder as some communicants decided to keep their hands in the air. “How many have big Christmas dinners?” Those communicants who had put their hands down now raised them again. Just when many children seemed to think they had figured out the game, Father Briant asked, “Do they come from McDonalds?” “No,” the children shouted. “Very important things,” he explained, “always happen with a meal. Special things also happen around a table. Where is the table in the church?” The communicants excitedly pointed to the altar table. Father continued, “It’s a simple wooden table like the one on which Jesus had the Last Supper.”

“Who was at the Last Supper?” Father Briant asked the children. Unlike in response to easier questions, this time only four or five hands went up. He called on one little girl who said “Jesus.” Another little boy self-assuredly added “Mary” to the guest list. Father Briant

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