Last fall I wrote a post regarding my struggle with the fact that Tate wouldn’t make his First Communion with his class. I was a little sad, and a little disappointed. I spoke way too soon.
This year we have seen tremendous growth. Tate’s language skills have really blossomed. He is much more involved in the actions and surroundings around him. He has developed some astounding coping skills. We have our bad days, weeks, and stretches, as does anyone, but overall, our kiddo has made some impressive strides. I dare say, he has really come into his own.
Along with all of this glorious progress, we have noticed that during Mass, Tate is much more aware of the routine. He follows along, and knows when to sit, stand and kneel. Whether he joins us all is another thing, but you’d better believe he tells me when it’s time to do each action. He knows when we sing. He knows when we pray. He knows when we make the sign of the cross and say “Amen”. He also knows when he needs a break from all of the action, which is so huge, that I really don’t need to say it. He will say, “I need to go to the playroom” or “I need a drink”. If we ask him if he wants to go for a walk, he will let us know if he does. Again, super-duper huge.
He is also an active participant in our church’s special religious development class. (SPRED) In that class, which meets every other week, they meet with a one-on-one catechist (someone who leads them in our faith). They read a passage from the Bible. They talk about a good thing from their week. They do special activities. They sing. They dance. They share a meal. It is fantastic.
About a month and a half ago, I asked his catechist about a timeframe for Tate’s First Communion. I know that the SPRED children often don’t follow the same timeline as the “typical” classes do. I mentioned how Tate is making a rough sign of the cross, how he follows along in Mass, how he keeps asking if he’ll be making his First Communion because he’s going to be 8. His catechist called the next day, saying that between my report of his progress in his faith at home, and what growth they’ve seen in SPRED, that they felt he was ready for First Communion.
I was ecstatic. Again, Tate has proved that he should not be discounted. That he should not be marginalized. He is right there with his peer-age group. In fact, he made his First Communion before other 2nd graders!!! He was so proud. The smile on his face when we told him that he was going to make his First Communion, oh, how I wish I could capture it on film. It lit up his whole face. Even his eyes and ears and nose were smiling. For him, for us, it was magical.
This past Sunday was his big day. We had practiced how he should hold his hands. We had practiced what he should say when the priest said, “The body of Christ.” We had practiced how he should make the sign of the cross. He was as ready as he could be.
Sunday morning we had a special breakfast of cinnamon rolls and lemonade. Well, at least the boys did. They all showered and put on their Easter best. Tate willingly put on a collared, button-up shirt and a tie. A TIE!! He wore pants that had a button and a zipper. He wore dress shoes. He knew it was “only for an hour”, and then he could wear his comfy clothes. He also knew his clothes were special.
We got to church and our entire family was there to celebrate with him. His godparents were there. His grandparents. His cousins. His aunts and uncles. Everyone was ready to support Tate in his growth in his faith. It was spectacular, and caused this momma to tear up, just a wee bit. He struggled a little with all of the attention. He was a bit anxious, and ripped off his name tag. Once our family was seated, Tate and I went back into the gathering space of the church. We stood with his fellow communicant (another child from his group was making his First Communion, too) and with his catechist. He looked for some sensory input by pressing his chin into my arm. After two squishes, he said he was okay. I told him I was going to go sit in the church, and he said, “Bye, Mommy. See you later.” And that was that.
He walked into church with the rest of his SPRED group. He sat quite well with his catechist during an ENTIRE Mass. It was an hour. And he sat the entire time. Without needing any escapes out to the gathering space. HUGE!!! He danced with his whole body when the SPRED group sang the Responsorial Psalm. He just exuded happiness.
When it was time for his First Communion, they called Hubz and me up to the altar with him. We stood around the altar with Tate, his catechist, and the other boy and his family. Our priest talked about how wonderful it was to see Tate and the other boy grow in their faith. He applauded us and the other parents for continuing to help our children grow in our faith. It was all I could do to not ugly cry up there. I was so proud. My chest was bursting.
Tate took Communion like he’d been doing it for years. He was calm. He wasn’t overly fidgety. I wasn’t chasing him around the altar or worried about him knocking over candles. He was phenomenal. He was ready. So ready. He made his First Communion and calmly went back to his seat with his catechist. Hubz and I were beaming with pride. Our kiddo…the one who has struggled greatly in all things, did it. He not only did it, he did it well.
I couldn’t be more proud of my son. He constantly works and tries and overcomes. He proves to us over and over again how much he is capable of doing. I am blessed to be his mom.