This was the weekend -- the moment that Grace had been anxiously anticipating. She was writing journal entries and love letters to Jesus at school, we were praying the First Communion Novena at home. She was spilling over the top with excitement. It was a joy to see and experience.
Contrast that with Eddie, who is non-verbal and can't express himself in the same manner as Grace. He was about to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. His anticipation was more interior, more reserved. You could tell that he was prepared to receive Confirmation by his cooperation with the process. But, there was no expressly overt sign of anticipation.
Grace primped and preened herself to be just perfect on the day of her First Holy Communion. She requested, and endured, the banana curl rollers the evening before. Her gloves, socks, veil and shoes were neatly laid out next to her dress that hung carefully preserved in the plastic cover. Her rosary lay on her bed near her pillow and her novena prayer was right on her desk where we left it the night before. Everything was in place, right where she wanted it to be.
Eddie, on the other hand, had to be put together, unable to dress himself or prep anything for the upcoming event, his needs and desires had to be anticipated. His shirt and tie were hung neatly next to his dress pants. His prayers to St. Pio were said aloud for him, although Eddie's smile indicated that they were said interiorly, as well.
What became evident to me was the fact that we were witnessing a representation of the two facets of salvation, faith and works. One child, Grace, represented faith in works more vividly, while the other child, Eddie, clearly represented faith by prayer and trust. Each child had some aspect of both in play, but each had one more dominant than the other.
Was it just a matter of developmental limitations that made Eddie's interiority more pronounced? I don't really think so. Eddie typically shows excitement when going to Church. His anticipation builds as the Mass reaches it apex during the Consecration -- just ask anyone who sits near us. It is wonderful and boisterous -- again, just ask anyone who has experienced it.
This weekend, however, at least before his Confirmation, he was quiet. He didn't object to the dress shirt and tie. He sat quietly in the pew for quite some time before the conferring of the Sacrament. Then, during the actual celebration of the Sacrament, he was quite cooperative; he did flinch at Father's hand approaching his face when he was to be anointed, but that is definitely a product of his poor visual acuity. Otherwise, he was down right sedate in the moment. It was indeed quite a grace to behold.
Immediately following was the First Holy Communion. The joyful children processing with smiles so wide and bright, it was delightful. They were definitely a sacrament, an outward sign in and of themselves, of the joy found in the Eucharist. Their presence was electrifying -- we should all be so excited about Jesus becoming part of us really and truly.
And, as the sacred moment approached during the Mass when the bread and wine are offered, blessed and then changed truly and substantially into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eddie's calm turned to uncontainable joy. While it may have seemed to others that he was not able to be appropriately reverent during the Consecration, it is our firm belief that He is witness to what we cannot see. He lives, in a real and dramatic way, Hebrews 11: 1 -- "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." He is that evidence -- now, he's evidence on a mission! -- a sacrament in and of himself of the joy found in the Eucharist.
Mysteriously the tables turn, Eddie's faith now becomes more obvious, and Grace's more hidden. She can do what we all do, so her's becomes less of an extraordinary witness, a witness still, but not as obvious as Eddie. His witness draws attention, his daily sacrifice is obvious and compelling -- it makes you look.
So, I guess this is forewarning for our fellow parishioners that Eddie may be even more vocal now that he has become a "soldier for Christ". This is also a loving THANK YOU to my husband, Lyle, who generously takes Eddie out to the lobby on occasion so that others may pray reverently during the Consecration -- you may be doing this more frequently now, honey. Praise God for that grace.
God bless Eddie and Gracie for being a beautiful outward sign that points to the wonder of God. We are very proud of you both for believing and living out your faith in works. (Cf. James 2: 20)