My father received orders that he was to be re-stationed in Washington D.C. at Bolling Air Force Base after returning from a one year deployment in Vietnam. Our family packed up the moving van and moved to a suburb of D.C., in Alexandria, Virginia. Getting settled into our new home included finding a new church.
It didn’t take long for that to happen. The first Sunday in our new town, we were sitting in the pews of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church dressed in the nicest clothes we owned. Attending Mass every Sunday was a given for any good Catholic family, not to mention participating in all the rituals and traditions including Ash Wednesday, Midnight Mass, Catechism, Confirmation and my very favorite…First Holy Communion.
First Holy Communion for the typical Catholic happens somewhere between the ages of 7 and 10 years old. I happened to be 7 and though nervous about participating in the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, could not be more excited to wear the white dress, white gloves and veil. Every little girl’s dream…to be a bride. I kept that veil for years after, all the way through high school. I think my mom finally threw it away after I moved to California. I just couldn’t bear to do it.
Looking back on the experience of that special day, I can tell you that as a 7 year old I didn’t fully comprehend the true meaning behind “The Body and Blood of Christ”, but I did know that something very significant was taking place. I was a bride. I was special.
In 1983 while sitting in a church in Van Nuys, I received Jesus into my heart for the first time. I freely took communion with the other congregants that morning, reflecting on the reality that I had just received the gift of salvation. No white dress. No white gloves. No veil. Just me and Jesus sitting together in church having my true First Holy Communion. As His Bride, with my Groom.
Since that day I have jumped in with both feet, sometimes with confidence and other times with fear and trepidation into living life led by the Holy Spirit. It has never been boring.
I was astounded to learn along the way that God calls us his “bride”. What a beautiful picture of his love and desire to be with us.
I am grateful for my heritage and the many things I learned through the Catholic Church as a young person. God used it to bring me to where I am today, and that is a gift I can never repay.