The Many Blessings of April
The month of April will bless us with the opportunity to celebrate with our families not once, but twice – both being occasions we hold close in our hearts. (And fortunately for my daughter, both involve a Strasburg Children’s dress.) We’ll lead the month off with Easter, celebrated by attending church as an extended family in the morning, followed by a meal prepared together and an Easter egg hunt before heading home. In an interesting twist, Easter shares the spotlight with April Fools Day…could make for an interesting Easter egg hunt!
The second, tied closely with the Easter season in the Catholic Church, is our daughter’s First Holy Communion. I find it fascinating to learn how different religions develop the sacraments that build their foundations. In the Catholic Church, it’s the sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – that layer our foundations. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. First Holy Communion is the common name for the first time someone receives the sacrament of the Eucharist. Since the Eucharist is the central focus of the sacramental life of the Catholic Church, this is an event of great importance.
Traditions surrounding First Communion include large family gatherings and parties to celebrate the special girl or boy following mass. Girls often wear white dresses, to symbolize purity, along with a veil or floral wreath and white gloves (long or short). Boys typically wear either a suit or dress shirt and tie with dress pants. Many families have a portrait taken with the child wearing their special clothes as a keepsake of this important day.
So it’s time for us to narrow our choices on what Strasburg Children dress she’ll wear on her special day! Our top contenders are Lulu, MaryBella, Audrey, Caroline, Blair, Mary, and Virginia. Silk or cotton? Simple and elegant or the added charm of smocking and embroidery added by the hands of our artisans? We’re spoiled to have so many stunning options and relieved to know that each one is a wonderful choice. Next is the floral wreath choice, which will be worn with my short wedding veil. Gloves or no gloves? Add the white Mary Jane shoes with a bow and we’re ready for her big day!
Wanting this to be more than just a day, a dress, and a party, I found some great suggestions from other moms for making this day special and one that we’ll all cherish the memories of.
Make a First Communion banner. With a little felt, ribbon, and a wooden dowel, you can create this with your child to commemorate their special day. In our church, the banners are hung outside the worship area for a few weeks so everyone can see them and pray for the children. They hang on the pews where our families sit the day of their First Holy Communion.
Have a special First Communion breakfast that morning. I’m stealing this idea for sure!!
Give a timeless gift they can hold onto forever, such as a cross necklace and bracelet, prayer book, rosary, crucifix, or Bible. When they wear or use their gift, they’ll remember that they received it on their First Communion. If you get a prayer book or Bible, you can have their name and the date engraved on the cover at many Catholic shops for around $5.
Celebrate! Whether this is a celebration in your home or a larger event at a restaurant, this is a great way to show your child that this is an important day of celebrating them! Many include a celebration cake. For my son, I decorated cupcakes with white frosting and arranged them in the shape of a cross on a large wooden tray.
Light their Baptism candle at your celebration. Traditionally, Baptism candles were lit at special occasions such as Baptism anniversaries and First Communion brunch/dinners. Then at one’s death, the candle is lit and allowed to burn all the way down.
Say a special prayer for your child at dinner with your family. One mom found this prayer, which I thought was wonderful:
Remember how He broke the loaf made from golden wheat, and said, “This is my body. Take this bread and eat.” Remember how the sun-ripe grapes taken from the vine became a cup of blessing: “Take and drink this wine.” Remember how a cross of wood became a symbol of Christ’s giving of himself to us-the greatest kind of love. Remember Jesus’ love for you today as you receive His bread of life, His cup of grace…Remember and believe!
Have your child get their items blessed by the priest. After they receive their gifts, take them to Mass with you the next Sunday and have your child request that the priest bless them.
Congratulations if your April will include these blessings as well! Let’s take the time as busy moms to take a deep breath and cherish this day with our little ones.