Benedict made his first communion yesterday. It was at our regular Sunday Mass and he was the only child to receive. As homeschoolers, we do sacrament prep at home.
Mass was beautiful and Ben was so very composed and reverent and full to bursting with joy.
It’s been really amazing to see my shy boy blossom, who at three and four and five used to hide under the pew during Mass because he was just so overwhelmed by all the people. Today was really so blessed as he walked forward on his own to receive Jesus, who he has been longing for so fervently.
A few weeks ago after Mass he had something he urgently wanted to tell me, but as he sometimes does, he was having a very hard time getting the words out. But it had an urgency to it that made me stop and sit on the step in front of the altar and engage in a sort of game of twenty questions to figure out what he had to say. I first figured out it was something about one of the prayers at Mass. Then I just had to narrow down which prayer. With some persistent questioning, I sussed out that it was the “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” We had just read the story of the centurion in Life of Our Lord for Children and Ben had recognized the words from the story. But it seemed more than that, it seemed like those words had touched him to the heart. He was engaged in profound contemplation of them. Eventually I wrote the verse out in calligraphy and illustrated it with a cross and a chalice and host. I hung it on the wall next to his bed so that he could use it as an aid to contemplation.
At Easter Ben decided to wear a tie to Mass and every Sunday since he has also worn one. He asked me to buy him dress shoes and we got a new belt. He really wants to be dressed in his best. Not to show off, that’s so not Ben’s style. No, I see in his decision a desire to look his best, to make Mass special, and a desire to draw closer to Jesus in even the small things like clothing.
Ben is still profoundly shy and refuses to talk to almost all strangers. I thought he might never make it past the hurdle of confession. But three times now, with three different priests, by the grace of God, he’s done it. He’s walked into the confessional and sat face to face and had a real conversation. He told me several times that he wanted to go to confession the day before his first communion so that his soul would be clean and shiny for Jesus.
For him the excitement of the day was not gifts and certainly not the attention everyone paid him— for shy Ben that attention is almost torturous— no, the excitement was the sacrament itself.