Husband & Wife Articles


 

Spring Meaning

This is the season of first sacraments

By Heather Keimig

I was frantic. I was determined not to be frantic, but I was anyway! A huge group of our closest friends were coming over to our house later that day to celebrate something with us…now what was it? Oh yes! They were coming over to celebrate my beautifully clean kitchen floor. Wait, that’s not it! They were coming over to celebrate our daughter’s Baptism!  And I was again worrying too much about the distracting details that had nothing to do with the joy of the sacraments.

The Keming Family

Bill and Heather Keimig have a young family with five children, "thus far," they say.

Spring is typically a time of many joyful sacraments and we all love to celebrate the “firsts” that come to our families – both the personal and the extended parish family. There are all those cute little second graders excitedly waiting to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. Then we have the joys of Easter, not the least of which are the adults who are received into the Church’s fold. Somewhere in the mix of the months of spring is also when our parishes celebrate Confirmation with lots of red splashed about, and with a bishop, to boot! Finally, we enter the season of weddings and priestly ordinations in June.

What a great time of year! The Church and her people are in an almost endless party mode!

One of the wonderful things about all these great sacramental gifts is that they are often visually symbolized by distinctive and often beautiful clothing, certainly for the people receiving the sacrament, but also for those of watching in the pews. We love to see what the bride’s dress and veil will look like. We all get dressed up for Easter Mass, especially those attending Easter Vigil, who see the first light of the resurrection in the darkened church. Who doesn’t smile when watching the second graders dressed in all their finery? These sacraments are Big Deals and we give witness to that fact by wearing our best. Even the priests who have the privilege of administering those various “firsts” will pull out their parish’s best vestments, wearing them for those special Masses to help those in the pews to feel the import of the events.

But there’s another “first” that comes this time of year that is just as important but less celebrated. First Penance. No special clothes. No fanfare. No party. In this sacrament are we alone in the presence of the Lord, with no distractions, no drama. Just the facts.

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned …” What could be more important than saying, “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me”? And to have the assurance of God’s forgiveness in the words of absolution – with no worries about parties afterward or scrubbing floors beforehand!

I think that part of the reason we don’t have parties for First Confession is that the sacrament is so very private, as it should be. The Lord hears our wrongdoings in private, even though most of our sins are in public, and he heals our relationship with him in private, though we are called to live out that love in public. What a mercy!

Unfortunately, I also think that part of the reason that we don’t celebrate First Penance is that there are no trappings to buy, no special outfits in which to get a picture, no processions down the parish’s center aisle. The relief, comfort and peace that our Lord gives each penitent is just for him initially, to be spread in the penitent’s life as he finds himself transformed by that grace. It overflows and, in that sense, begins the “party” of joy that echoes through each life touched.

By the way, our daughter’s Baptism party worked out just fine and everyone seemed to have a great time. Surprisingly, no one mentioned my kitchen floor! However, what was truly supernatural that day was the transformation of our baby’s soul and the vowing of two godparents to her spiritual care, alongside us, her parents. Now that’s worth a party!

Lord Jesus, may we be able to approach your beauty in the sacraments with a pure heart, focused on your unquenchable love for us!

Heather Keimig, a homeschooling mother of five children, writes from her home in Maryland when she’s not enjoying some “cuddle time” with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.