- Where little boys wear dark shoes, socks, a collared shirt and maybe even a tie all at once -- and for up to two consecutive hours!
- Where little girls wear dresses that look like wedding dresses and cost at least as much as a prom gown.
- When home remodeling projects finally get done... because we don't want to be embarrassed in front of our relatives at the party after....
We were late, of course, getting to the church. Our late start didn't help; an accident ahead of us on the Tollway made certain that we'd be very late indeed.
As it turned out, I was grateful that I didn't have to sit through the entire proceeding: The celebrant may have
s p o k e n
m o r e
s l o w l y
than any priest I've ever heard.
My sister-in-law explained later that the priest was trained as an engineer in his native Mexico, entering the Seminary at the age of 38 and speaking not a word of English. But I am certain he does not speak Spanish that slowly... and with a church full of fidgety first communicants, trying so hard to remain solemn and serious and neatly combed, the length and ponderous pace of the Mass only increased the danger that one or more of them would fail.
(From my vantage point, in the back pew, I don't think any of the communicants actually did fail -- I doubt I would have done so well. Of course, if any of the communicants had lapsed, it might have been drowned out entirely by their even more fidgety siblings and cousins who were playing in the back of the church, directly behind me. And I couldn't blame them either. I could only be envious.)
Churches are generally crowded at First Communion Masses: All the kids, their parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles and cousins -- and, in this day and age, all the step-siblings, step-parents, step-grandparents.... I've been in churches so crowded that I've joked that the pastor must be dying to pass the basket.... I've heard celebrants make the same joke.
But I never actually saw the basket passed -- not until this most recent First Communion. I thought things were moving slowly enough because of the celebrant's glacial diction -- but they ground to a halt entirely while the ushers tried to raise a little revenue.
Enjoy the First Communions in your families this Spring... and, to any pastors out there: Don't pass the basket!