My First Holy Communion
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It was a sunny spring Saturday in 1972 when I received my First Holy Communion. I was seven years old. I freely admit that my enthusiasm could be attributed solely to getting to wear the frilly white miniature bride dress and gossamer veil.

I awoke early that morning and had an apple for breakfast. My mother explained that I should not eat three hours before or after receiving communion, or it would cause the Body of Christ terrible discomfort whilst he was traveling through my digestive system. I had gone to confession the night before, so I was careful not to commit any new sins before receiving communion, for this would also cause the Body of Christ to suffer terribly in my belly.

After confession the previous night, all the girls were given little white purses, each containing a small bible, a scapular (which I preferred to call a scalpel) and a bottle of holy water. The boys got the same stuff, but in masculine little blue briefcases.

After breakfast, I washed and donned the frilly early ‘70s-style mini communion dress. It was my first time wearing nylons instead of tights, and I was showing a generous amount of leg. I was certain that Jesus was smiling upon me proudly.

My brother picked his nose and started chasing me around the house with a booger on his finger, threatening to wipe it on my dress. I ran screaming from him until I realized that screaming could be construed, especially by our mother, as sinful. Remembering my holy obligations, I stopped and turned to face him with a calm and quiet dignity.

“Brother, if you wish to dirty my communion dress with your booger, I shall forgive you, as Jesus was forgiving.” I told him.

He retreated, and I felt a holy glow emanating from my pores. I was infallible.

Our father took some pictures of my mother, my brother John, and me with Nana, as we all squinted into the sun. Then we headed to church.

After receiving communion, I followed my class around the church. I held the host in my mouth because it is impolite to chew on Jesus. He should be allowed to melt gracefully in one's mouth. When I passed my family, I stuck out my tongue to prove to them that I had received the host. My father and grandmother shook their heads disapprovingly while my mother wagged her finger and stifled a giggle.

We returned home and waited three hours before having tuna sandwiches for lunch. I begged to keep my frilly dress on, but my mother insisted that I change into civilian clothes.

After lunch, my brother and I were bored and asked for our parents’ permission to take a walk around the neighborhood. A teenage boy was mowing his parents’ lawn in a yard that was but a block away from us. We stood across the street and laughed and pointed at him, since we had the luxury of being bored while he had to mow the lawn.

He turned off his lawnmower and started walking over towards us. My brother immediately bolted.

“Come on,” he cried, as he ran a short cut up the hill behind Jeannie DePasquale’s house that connected to our back yard. I looked over my shoulder at him sadly. I had no fear. I was calm and dignified, protected by the holy sacrament that I had received earlier that day.

The boy came over and pushed me lightly, just enough to knock me slightly off balance. I decided to err on the side of caution, and immediately followed my brother’s frantic return to the safety of our house.

We told our father what had happened, leaving out the part about our pointing and laughing. He asked us to go for a ride to identify the suspect, so we all got into his big, black Lincoln and rode around the block.

When we got there, the boy was still mowing the lawn and his father was standing right in the driveway. Our father got out of the car, closed the door and approached the man. The windows were closed, so we couldn’t hear what he was saying, but his nostrils were flaring as they did whenever he got angry, and he was pointing to the young, innocent faces of my brother and I, pressed against the car window.

The boy had stopped mowing the lawn and was looking with concern over at the proceedings in the driveway. Our father returned to the car, his nostrils still flared, and we watched the man say something and angrily gesture for his son to go in the house.

During the ride home, it occurred to me that I got a boy in trouble on the day of my First Holy Communion, and well before Jesus had even left my digestive system. I suspected that I had screwed up and wondered whether He caught it. Hopefully He was too busy feeding His pet lambs.

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