Saturday, May 20, 2006

Star's First Communion

Star's First Communion Mass this afternoon went beautifully. I was so proud of her as she read the welcome - loud and clear, and with expression. The whole Mass went smoothly (apart from the organist starting one hymn with the wrong tune!), and all twenty one First Communicants behaved immaculately. Everyone remembered what they were meant to do and when.

For our family the celebration of a new sacrament is a bitter-sweet thing. I suspect many converts feel something of this, as we cannot truly share the joy of the sacrament with our closest relatives, who may be hostile, faintly disapproving, or just plain baffled. In my case not only are my family not Catholic, but relations of any persuasion are thin on the ground. I only have two surviving relatives, apart from a few distant cousins with whom I have no contact - my Anglican mother and my agnostic / atheist brother. Dear friends came along to support Star, but I admit to feeling a pang or two of envy for those large cradle Catholic families in pews overflowing with relatives.

More importantly, our children's sacramental milestones are moments that bring the pain of an interfaith marriage into focus. For Tevye, it is a painful reminder that in marrying me his Jewish line came to an end. His daughters do not share his faith and will never make their bat mitzvahs. That hurts. For me, it brings into stark relief the loneliness of having sole responsibility for transmitting my Faith to my daughters. While Tevye is always supportive - he has taken on most of the load of driving Star to her catechism classes over the past two years, which is beyond the call of duty for a Jewish father! - to attend the First Communion Mass would be to compromise his own faith. Neither I nor the girls would ask that of him, but there cannot help but be sadness in the sense of separation on what should be a united family occasion. We have always known that this bitter-sweetness would be an inevitable consequence of an interfaith marriage where both of us take our respective faiths seriously and after fourteen years we rarely notice it in the course of our normal routine, but the special days remind us that there is a price to pay in maintaining our integrity as Catholic and Jew.

But the bottom line is ... our precious daughter has set out on a new stage of her life as a Catholic. Star, we are both proud of you, and pray that you will grow ever closer to God ... the God we share.

1 comment:

Karen E. said...

Oh, I can so identify with all that you're feeling! We are the only Catholics in our families, and so we do not have that extended family support either.

And, for quite some time, Atticus and I were in very different places regarding our faith, so I sympathize with you there, too, on the bittersweet quality of this enormous event in Star's life.

Blessings to your entire, beautiful family.