On Saturday, Mike and I accompanied Henry to his First Confession celebration, which was just precious. The weather was simply gorgeous for it this weekend. I love spring. I actually don't love summer, but sunny spring days are fabulous. The air is just so fresh and crisp. We left Anne with her grandparents to just give Henry our attention on his big day and arrived at the church just before the 11 am start time.
There were a lot of people there, and a buzz of excitement and anxiety permeated the sanctuary. :) Henry sat with us as things got started with a hymn. Then the children were called up by name to the altar and the priest spent some time with them talking about Jesus the Good Shepherd. The kids sang a few songs (this was Henry's dreaded time, but he did just fine). The whole time, I felt giddy. The parish we were at for the ceremony actually isn't the one I belong to, it's the one affiliated with Henry's school. And I feel very close to my parish family. Here, however, I felt close to the universal Church. In countless other parishes around the world, children are making their First Confession in a ceremony just like this one, and have done so for generations. It was a Power Catholic moment, and I just felt so happy and proud to be part of the Church.
When the songs were done, we were given instructions for how the actual confessing would proceed. Four priests were present to hear confessions, and they wanted to meet each child, so confession would be face-to-face (Henry also wasn't crazy about this, but I told him it was no big deal, he could use the screen after that whenever he wanted). A parent could accompany their child up to the confessional to meet the priest, then the child would go in for confession. After that, they all had a cotton ball lamb with their name on it to affix to a tapestry on the altar (couldn't you just die?!) and would receive their certificate of First Reconciliation.
I agreed to go with Hank, and he wanted to go to one of the priests near the front of the church. We headed right up, me feeling excited that we would be one of the first in line. As we were waiting, we made a discovery: this particular priest wasn't using the confessional; he had set up 2 chairs outside of the small side altar and was doing the confessions right there in the open. None of us could hear anything since we were tucked back, but Henry was freaked out.
"I WANT TO GO IN THE CONFESSIONAL MOMMY."
Sigh, so we lost our place in line and proceeded to a line for a priest in the regular confessional. We waited. And waited. I don't think the 7 year olds were taking that long to confess their sins, I think the priest were just spending extra time with them, since it was their first confession. We fidgeted. Finally, it was Henry's turn. The confessional door opens and out comes this ancient priest. He held the door open with wobbly countenance and we approached. He asked Henry his name and introduced himself to both of us. Then he carefully shepherded Henry inside and that was that. It was quite adorable. Mike and I set up shop in a pew nearby awaiting Henry's return.
About five minutes later our patience was rewarded. Henry came out, beaming. I hustled him over and asked about his penance. He said that the priest told him to say one Hail Mary for the priests electing the next pope this week in the Conclave. Love! We said the prayer together, then he went up to affix his lamb.
We received a very nice certificate noting the date and location of his First Reconciliation. I have all of the kids sacramental paperwork in a folder that we keep with other important papers. After that was all done, we took Henry out to lunch.
It was a really, really nice afternoon. And now I'm about ready to jump out of my skin with excited anticipation of the Conclave.