Søren received his First Holy Communion on Mother’s Day this year.
It was a complicated day full of various emotions, mostly great, but some overwhelmingly not great, and I’ve only just sorted through it all enough to share the events and photos of the day. Something noteworthy happened today, and to fully understand its impact to me, I need to fill you in on the background first:
May 12, the big day, finally arrived.
Søren was extremely excited.
Mass started at 11:30 but Søren arrived in my room all dressed and ready to go at 7:30 a.m.
I later discovered that he’d slept in his suit.
We got to church early and was able to get a nice family photo thanks to our friend Beau:
Proud father with his big boy
Getting into formation with his class
In years past, different priests have had different rules for taking photos during first holy communion. One priest didn’t want any photos during Mass, and another wanted just one designated photographer taking photos. This year, the priest in charge told the parents they were allowed to take no-flash photos as long as they were several rows back. I was looking forward to getting a few nice shots. I got there early, scoped out the best seat from which to shoot unobtrusively, made my test shots to get my settings right, and waited.
Søren and his class coming down the aisle in anticipation:
All ready for Mass to start!
There was a bit of confusion with the lineup as the organizers changed something at the last minute from what had been rehearsed.
Then they were all in a nice little row and it began. The priest began coming down the line distributing first holy communion to these excited little souls.
And for no reason, at the precisely incorrect moment, someone stood directly between the first communicants and the congregation just as the priest reached Søren.
Then, he moved back to exactly where he’d been prior to (doing nothing but) blocking the parents’ view of my son and the boy next to him at their very special moment.
Now, I fully realized, and walked myself through, many times, the fact that it was only due to the priest’s allowance this year that I was even able to get any photos at all. I know this. The moment could just as well have been completely undocumented, as another priest had it. (Though, of course in those cases, I was at least allowed to *see* it happen.) I know the sacrament is not dependent upon documentation to have occurred, despite that now-common expression born out of social media, “pics or it didn’t happen!”
I know this. I told myself many times.
But for all the “there, theres” I forced upon myself I still was not able to prevent myself from feeling severely disappointed.
So disappointed that it has taken me over two months to be able to post about his first holy communion. I couldn’t even talk about it with the joy it deserved.
Can’t you see the joy on his face?
If only the disappointment had ended there. But no. As you can see above, the communicants processed out first. I exited as soon as I could, and saw his classmates standing with the priest for group and individual shots. I scanned the group for Søren.
He was nowhere to be found.
I went on a boyhunt. I asked around. I went to the parish hall where I was certain he’d be trying to eat junk food. I went back into church wondering if he’d be looking for me.
He was nowhere to be found.
The priest and first communicants dispersed. The pictures were over. Still no Søren.
Finally, I discovered his whereabouts. A friend said, “Oh, Soren? Yeah, he was over down by the little pond looking at the geese.”
Looking. At. The. Geese.
“He’s lucky he just received his first holy communion,” I said. “Now when I KILL HIM he’ll go straight to heaven.”
We went home and I managed to smile for a picture with the little rascal.
Today he disappeared again.
We were at church becoming godparents to a new little baby boy. After it was said and done and we were finished spending a little time talking to the baby’s folks, we loaded the car. Headcount commenced.
Søren was nowhere to be found.
So I began the all-too-familiar boyhunt.
(This is not a random occurrence by said character. Once we went to my brother’s army graduation and Søren nearly gave my parents a heart attack by disappearing into a display tank at this very crowded outdoor venue. And so on.)
When I entered the church building, there was a man there with a few children in the cry room. I peeked my head in. “Søren?”
“He’s in confession,” said the man.
At that moment I realized a little bit how Our Lady must have felt when she found her Son in the Temple. I couldn’t have been prouder of him.