First Communion: Arivaca Style

One thing I have always loved about the Catholic Church is that it is universal. Wherever you go, Mass is the same. It may be in different languages, with different traditions, but the liturgy is always the same. This held true for the Mass we experienced in Arivaca, Arizona, a town of about 700 near the border. We went to the small Catholic Church and filled up the rear 1/3 of the pews by ourselves. Fr. Pete warned us that the patrons of this church called themselves Arivaca Catholics. He explained himself by telling a story of the marriage of a gay couple in the church. Padre said it didn’t count in the Catholic Church, but it didn’t matter because everyone acted as though it did. I was excited to see what this Mass was going to be like. A “slice of life” as John says.

Almost immediately after sitting down, 4′ 8″ Super Sue came to recruit us to the choir. AJ and I were glad to participate. Mass started, and we sung the opening hymn. It became very clear to me that I had not mentally prepared myself for my choir debut. The petite choir director had the intensity of a small army. I was NOT ready. Sue was belting out the song, holding notes for 3x longer than intended, and scolding the lady to my right who kept missing the beat. I wasn’t singing very well because I was trying not to laugh. I looked over at AJ, and he had his head buried in his book, almost crying of laughter. Our choir experience was priceless. Thank you Super Sue.

There were two baptisms and a first communion that Sunday. The place was packed. Padre gave an awesome homily about the prophet, priest, and King nature of the sacraments. He mentioned the baptismal candle, and turned to point to it. In typical Arivaca fashion, the candle was not there. Padre smiled and said, “and it seems as though we have forgotten to put out the baptismal candle.” We all laughed.

Padre is on left. I am being a weirdo on the right. We are at Super Sue's house to hear about the Jaguars.
Padre is on left. I am being a weirdo on the right. We are at Super Sue’s house to hear about the Jaguars.

When it came time for Eucharist, I was asked to be a Eucharistic Minister. I knew there was going to be a first communion, but I assumed padre would do it himself. He whispered to me that I was to grab the cup and follow his lead as he gave this child his first encounter with the body of Christ. I said, “The Blood of Christ,” and handed the boy the chalice. As he sipped, I felt so humbled to be used in this beautiful sacrament. It was an amazing experience. After that, I got to share the blood with the rest of the congregation and my team. There is something so special about being a Eucharistic minister. I love it. Giving that little boy his first taste of the Lord was something I will never forget, and I am so humbled to be a part of that child’s experience.

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