The lovely month of May is upon us. Weather is warming up, sun is out, time to mow the grass and I’m digging my khaki shorts out of storage. Let’s not forget that schoolchildren are coming down the homestretch for the semester too. Do you remember the yellow sign, “School’s Out, Drive Safely”? One thing that I do remember is the second grade at Holy Name of Jesus; that was the year I made my Holy Communion.
Boy was that a long time ago, 1972 to be exact.
(From left to right: Red, Michael Langton and John Godfrey.)
Before communion we had to be free of sin; and boy did I commit a lot of sins before the tender age of 8. This was where my first confession came in a week before receiving First Communion.
The thought of confession was not sitting too well with me. I’ll be the first to admit I was nervous. Leading up to my visit I was reciting over and over, “Bless me Father for I have sinned this is my first confession.” I had actually been thinking of not going to school that day. Would they give me a pass? Doubt it.
Entering the confessional booth and taking a knee, all was silent. Suddenly I heard a cough. Then I heard a voice, it was the same voice that would often toss us out of the schoolyard at 10 o’clock at night.
Miss Herlihy, my second grade teacher assured me we would not be seen in the confession booth. It was a relief knowing Monsignor Downing would not know it was me behind the curtain but how could he not I wondered?
I would often see him walking around the neighborhood reading his bible, always taking the time to say hello to me, despite this little red-headed boy trying to sneak past him.
Once inside the booth, I admitted my sins and was very sorry.
Finally able to exhale, I then received my penance; I was cleansed of my sins.
I was good to go, right? Not exactly.
Time and time again I would sin some more, only to return to confession.
That day as I made my way down the steps of our Church, I began one of the 3 Hail Mary’s I was required to recite.‘Hail Mary full of grace’. Wait a second, I just thought of something, were the prayers supposed to be to myself or out loud?
After Communion I was given Rosary beads by my mother. Money was also included for this blessed accomplishment. Thanks to some very nice friends of our family and caring relatives that took care of me; thank you all. I’m not sure of the total amount of money I made that day but I do know I went down to Sepe’s on 5th avenue shortly afterwards and purchased a rubber, Voit basketball.
I can’t believe it has been 38 years since I made my first communion.