Yesterday, on top of it being Nelson's birthday and the beatification of Pope John Paul II and Divine Mercy Sunday and the demise of Osama bin Laden, Aiden made his First Communion. This isn't the way a post about this most important event should begin, but it is a reflection of life and how suddenly, over the past few months I have felt incredibly guilty about not putting First Communion at the top of every list this year.
But, as all mothers of multiple children know, this is the way life is. For better or for worse, some things don't get the time they need (or at least the time we feel they need). So for the past two or three months, this is where I have found myself - feeling guilty about not putting the same amount of focus into Aiden's First Communion as I did Mackenzie's.
This past week, however, the week leading up to this beautiful sacrament, God showed me a thing or two that proved me absolutely wrong. When I really started to consider why I felt I poured so much time into Mackenzie's, what I realized was that most of that extra time revolved around what she would wear on that day. I bought her dress a whole seven months before the big day. My mom took her out on a special date to buy her veil. In the month before there were shoes to be purchased and lacy socks to find.
On the other hand, Aiden's outfit was mandated by the church: white shirt, dark pants and dark tie. The day I got that note, I opened up his closet – white shirt, check – dark pants, check. I needed only the dark tie which just happened to come in a bag of hand-me-downs someone gave me the week before First Communion, double check. Without all the pomp and circumstance surrounding shopping for the perfect outfit, I felt as if somehow I had cheated the poor little guy.
He has however, been in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd all year, on top of the required parish religious education class. We have been talking about the big day quite a lot. Even with all of this, I still felt that urgency that somehow this one was going to slip through my fingers. That I had in someway failed to prepare him the way I should.
It actually wasn’t until Sunday morning, as I was ironing his outfit and Nelson was doing his very best to spiff up the shoes he’s been wearing to school all year, that I realized perhaps my lack of preparation was more about the exterior than the interior.
He got dressed and looked so angelic that I almost cried. The simplicity of the outfit was beautiful. The mandated uniformity put the focus elsewhere - like his nails which, after two showers, were still green from a painting project at school on Friday. I filled the sink with warm, soapy water and forced him to soak his hands for ten minutes while trying to convince the kid that women pay lots of money to have treatments like this. He, of course, was highly doubtful.
When he continued to wonder what the big deal was about the green nails, I informed him that those hands were going to be holding the body of Christ in a few hours and we wanted them to be in the best condition possible. That fact inspired him to stick it out. And, thanks be to God, we were finally able to get the green out.
We got him to the church with time to spare and without any yelling or hurrying. We took pictures, I said a little prayer over him and then we took our seats in the church. When the music started and I saw those tiny little angels processing in, I suddenly found myself holding back tears. The magnitude of the sacrament was divinely impressed on me as I watched each child approach the altar, make a bow and take his seat in the pew.
Of all the gifts, Aiden can receive; this one is the most important. Nothing I can buy for him, no matter how perfect or expensive, can ever compare. As much as I sacrifice for him, it will never compare to the price that Jesus paid. This is a gift that will change his life. It will give him the strength he needs to carry on - the grace he needs when nothing else will do. It is a gift that will never expire or break or go out of style. What Aiden received today was Jesus and He’s enough.
So today the tears were not sadness about how much my boy has grown but about how much Jesus loves him and how his life is going to change forever. It was beautiful.
Last night, after I tucked the boys in, I found the following.
It reads: "Dear God, I’ll be the best I can be. Tell me what to be. You are the best!! I will not worship idols. I will be nice to friends. And I will have courage. I will tell people that do not obey you to worship you. I will teach about you like Noah. I say that you are the best!! Aiden”
I went to sleep peacefully last night, because I knew that he got it.