F must have heard it a dozen times today. “You won’t remember your baptism,” all the “aunts” and “uncles” would have begun, “but you’ll always remember your first communion.”
The rainy weather will also stick in your memories — the huddling under umbrellas as you make your way from the parish center to the church, some more others less worried about getting soaked. With so much white on parade, there must been worries about soiling the all-white outfits so many wore.
But everyone made it inside relatively safely, with F standing toward the rear of his line stiff as a soldier.
“You won’t remember your baptism,” he would soon hear, but those are words from people baptized in Poland in infancy, like the vast majority of Poles. “You won’t remember your baptism” is much like saying “you won’t remember your birth,” but it’s not always quite the case.
Some of us have such a memory. The same priest who baptized me two years ago gave the homily today, the same kind of warm, welcoming homily he always gives. Our dear Father Theo from Columbia, a man from whom his love of God almost glows.
“Welcome, my brothers and sisters, to this holy place,” he begins every Mass, and though he says it consistently, it always sounds fresh and inviting.
But today wasn’t about the homily, or the hymns, or the responsorial psalm. Today, it was about a group of kids taking their first communion — as big an event in most Catholic families as a wedding, I’d wager.
Indeed, in a Polish family, the similarities are striking. Both are highly social events, always including a large party afterward with food and drink, conversation into the evening.