Faith and our Fancy-Dress: First Holy Communion
Julia Beacroft reflects on her children’s First Holy Communion and the fuss of dressing up…
I’ve lost count of the number of fancy-dress costumes that I’ve made for my four adult children over the years.
The collection covers the Victorian and Roman eras, characters from books, a cat and even a tree, and the kids entered into the spirit of each character with gusto.
Yet interestingly I’ve noticed that although children seem to derive great delight in donning a character costume, they are generally less than enthusiastic about wearing smart or formal attire for special occasions.
I can vividly remember an incident of this nature, when my four youngsters were smartly dressed for a studio photo session.
My younger son, who had complained and sulked in turns, disappeared at the last moment, only to reappear having divested himself of his formal trousers and crisp shirt in favour of well-worn jeans and sloppy sweatshirt. Needless to say, he did not get away with it!
On First Communion Day the little girls traditionally wear white dresses, often with veils, and the boys wear smart trousers, shirts, ties and sometimes jackets. And of course, they look fantastic. But remarkably, I don’t think I have yet heard one of these children complain about the initiative of having to “dress up” for the occasion.
And it seems to me that God’s hand is at work in this.
But even on such a spirit-filled and moving occasion, there have often been moments of humour.
Receiving Communion for the First Time
On the great day itself, wardrobe malfunctions can and do occur. I’ve seen the frantic hunt for last minute safety pins for drooping hems, lost buttons and broken zips. To say nothing of needing to carry a veritable hairdresser’s supply of hair grips and clips to secure veils and tiaras which simply won’t stay put.
And the incidental extras can be troublesome too. I’ve noticed the most glorious dresses accessorised with little bags, gloves and on one occasion, even a parasol!
Unfortunately, I’ve also become aware of the children becoming confused as to where they should put said “extras” during the Mass. Especially when the great moment of receiving their first ever Holy Communion arrives. One lovely little girl nearly strangled herself with the long handle of her little bag in her confused haste to do what was required of her.
It is right and proper that we celebrate the wonderful gift of receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood for the first time. And on such a spiritual and meaningful celebration we should include all the traditional elements of this.
We are rightly proud of our young people and we joyfully celebrate with them — the first time, and indeed every single time — both they and we, receive the Lord. Yet we are invited to the table of the Lord just as we are.
And part of the wonder of this great gift from God is that it is freely given to each one of us. And we are free to receive it, whether we are dressed in our best finery or in our oldest garments. All we need is faith.
Julia Beacroft’s book Sanctifying The Spirit is published by Sancio Books. It is available on Amazon.