Monday, May 24, 2010

Body of Christ, Anyone?

I’m just back from a First Holy Communion Party. For those of you who are not up on the festivals of the Catholic Church, it is the celebration of a child’s first time to receive the Eucharist. And the Eucharist, if I understand correctly, means that the priest utters some sort of spell to turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. They call it transubstantiation. You go up to the altar. The priest holds up a piece of bread in front of you and claims that it’s the body of Christ. You agree. It’s all very complex and that is why you have to wait until you are seven years old to receive it, because seven, according to the same church, is the age of reason. 
If you are to go with tradition, girls wear white dresses as a symbol of their innocence and boys wear pathetic little three piece suits as a symbol of I don’t know what. Perhaps it is to highlight that they are all set for a career in banking or as circus ringmasters.
The communion celebration that I went to was quite non eventful, and that’s a good thing. Apparently the Eucharist is a re-enactment of the Last Supper, but luckily there was no sign of betrayal or back stabbing at this communion. Possibly because that sort of carry on had happened years before the communicant reached the age of reason. As a result, her father awkwardly hovered around the event, a visitor to the kitchen he once called home. Then there were the ex in-laws, who are never quite sure what their place is at an event like this: should they check that their son is paying the maintenance before they start tucking into the heaps of food and buckets of chilled beer? The communicant had ditched her white dress quite early on, in favour of shorts, a t-shirt and a bouncy castle and this also caused some slight embarrassment to visitors as they trickled in, for some weren’t sure just which kid to hand over the envelope of money to.
The mother of the communicant was exemplary. She hosted family, in-laws, outlaws, neighbours and friends allowing them all overstay their welcome and not mentioning the blisters from her sexy yet appropriate shoes. She’s the kind of woman who can get away with wearing a conservative yet low cleavage dress even in a church.
So saying it was non-eventful is an understatement really. It was colourful, it was interesting, it was gluttonous and the sun was splitting the skies.
It’s just that these days, First Holy Communion traditions have taken on a new dimension as our minority Irish ethnical group referred to as ‘the Travellers’ have triggered controversy with the introduction of new Communion traditions such as the hiring of white pumpkin style coaches or limousines for the occasion, along with diamond studded dresses that look more like bridal gowns than innocence. Recently, there were newspaper reports of a major fracas outside a Cathedral, where two ‘mother of the Communicants’ got into a major fisticuff allegedly about the size of two different Hummers which had been hired for their daughters (important to mention here that one vehicle was pink, the other white).
Personally, I love all the traveller bling. They know how to have a day out. And as for it not being appropriate, I disagree. Remember, this is meant to be a re enactment of the last supper, and that was one of the biggest historical fall outs ever, if you ask me.
As for the extravagance, a traveller family who I know spent over €5,000 on their daughter’s communion. I was thinking how turning your social welfare cheque from €240 to five grand is a real mystery to me. But life is full of mysteries; at least that’s what you have to cope with once you’ve reached the age of reason, which I have. I suppose it’s all about transubstantiation, isn’t it?

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