There is a long, twisting tale of how I finally made it to the wide world of Catholicism, but that isn’t the story for now.
The story of my first communion, (also known as “The night of the grand-slam of sacraments” or…”Easter Vigil” to some) is the story of nerves.
You see, I was fully prepared for the goings-on involved in receiving the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion)… I had been following the accounts of converts online for a number of years, read through the Baltimore Catechism–twice–during RCIA, and quizzed both my priest and my Godfather (himself also a convert) on the details of each event leading up to the vigil. I was beyond excited to finally join the communion line.
No amount of preparation, however, could prevent what happened the night of the vigil: I blanked.
I remembered something about water… saying “I do”… at some point, a candle would be involved… other than that, nothing. I panicked. My friend and now godfather noticed the look on my face and tried his best to get me out of my head and past the panic. He through out quotes from The Godfather (complete with mock-Brando voice), made jokes and even flat-out told me to “breath…. Stop being so nervous!” Nothing was working. My palms were sweating and though I knew there was nothing to fret over, I still worried. Worried that I’d forget an Amen, forget to genuflect, trip over my robe or worse…faint. I needed a distraction.
And then it hit me. Well, poked, to be more precise.
My godfather took it upon himself to poke my side with the baptismal candle. Repeatedly. I wanted to laugh (and still do, thinking about it now) and it certainly worked to distract me from unnecessary worry and bring the focus back to the rites at hand. It worked, and the rest of the evening went smoothly. The three of us receiving our first communion led the communion line, and finally was able to participate in something I could only observe before: I received the Eucharist.