When I was a kid, every family member I knew and a few I didn’t came to my First Communion. The church was crowded with my class and everyone’s families, then the house was crowded and I got so much attention. I got numerous religious gifts and lots of monetary gifts as well. It was the mid-80s and First Communion was still a big deal. I still remember my white dress, matching purse, and lacy gloves and veil.
Fast forward to my own children. My daughter’s First Communion had only immediate family at the church, then we went to a hall (our house was too small). I had invited everyone according to tradition, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc., but only a small fraction showed up. She got a few monetary gifts and some cards. One cousin of mine did give her a religious item, but that was it. Same for my son a year later. Stark difference from my day.
Now I have a few years before my youngest will receive his First Communion and I’ve been thinking about how much people have changed.
The Sacraments don’t seem to mean as much to people as they used to years ago. Maybe it’s my area, maybe it’s a sign of the times, but I can’t help feeling that my children are missing out. Still, we’ll continue to hold our faith close to our hearts in this ever growing secular world we live in.
It’s difficult though, keeping traditions where others have let them go and teaching children to cling to them when none of their friends do. We still say grace before each meal, even when we’re eating out. We still say bedtime prayers, to the point that they won’t go to bed without them. We even sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and have a cake every Christmas. There’s several nativities around our house during Advent and Christmas.
When I teach Religious Education, almost none of the teens in my class go to Mass weekly, and all are only getting their Confirmation done because of a grandparent or parents. Many choose a grandparent’s name instead of a saint name. They see it as honoring their beloved grandparent and don’t consider the meaning behind choosing a saint name. Most students think that Christianity is about ‘being a good person’ and some even think you don’t need Jesus to get to Heaven. When I discuss this with them, they look as though they’ve never heard of such things. Some have even said they would come to Mass if they’re parents would take them. Imagine that!
Folks, I’ve got my work cut out for me and it’s daunting!
I can only do my best raising my children and teaching my students and pray that it pierces their hearts in a way that stays for life. Tradition is the foundation of faith and something this generation is sorely lacking. I hope we can try to build it back through this next generation or else it may be lost. I won’t fear that yet; God’s working on it too.