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Living the Broken Body of Christ

alec vanderboom

It's almost time for my eldest daughter's First Communion. We're excited around here! Jon is taking the whole day off tomorrow to offer Hannah a special time to pray and attend Confession at the National Basilica.

We've got the white dress and the veil and the white gloves. We bought a new "Mommy Mary" Statue and a special Communion Day locket. We've said lots of prayers and lit her baptismal candle. I ordered a cake and bought blue and white party supplies.

Everything is so beautiful and amazing . . .

And yet today I'm sad. My Protestant parents are coming to see Hannah get her First Communion this week. The inter-family dynamics are the complete opposite of their calm visit for Hannah's Birthday last month. For this visit, my parents are acting skiddish and sacred.

The Eucharist is the big divide between the Catholics and the Protestants. For us Catholics, the Eucharist is the summit of Christian Life. We get to stand with Jesus at Calvery. We get to experience the glory of his Resurrection. We eat his Body receive the promise of our eternal life.

Yet this great mystery is "hidden" in plain sight. To the outsider, First Communion is nothing more than a pretty ceremony, similar to how 3rd Graders get handed out a red leather Bible in my old Methodist Church.

As I revive my tired vacuum cleaner to clean the carpets for this weekends guests, I have a hurt heart. My parents don't get this mystery. Moreover, they are hostile to it.

The thing that consoles me is that it must have been SO heartbreaking for my ancestors in 16th Century Germany to suddenly lose their son, Joseph Rupp, to the Protestant Movement. "But this is the EUCHARIST!" an ancient mother must have cried.

On Saturday morning, I'm sure I'll cry. I'll cry because my little baby is now a Communicant in the Catholic Church.

I'll cry because I'm so happy for my girl who so in love with Jesus that she keeps reminding me "You better give lots of hugs to me this week because I could be like St. Imelda and feel so much joy that I go directly to heaven after my First Communion on Saturday!"

I'll cry because it's a remarkable gift that my journey to the Catholic Church led to Hannah's day of perfect joy.

And I'll cry with the hope that someday my parents will share my love and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.