In Roman Catholic families a child’s First Holy Communion is a very important rite of passage. This is the second of sacrament they receive. The first is Baptism in which the baby is welcomed into the Church. During the Baptismal ceremony, the priest uses Holy Water to cleanse the baby of the taint of original sin as he makes the sign of the Cross over the infant. The baby’s parents and Godparents are the witnesses for this rite.
About the age of 5 or 6 the Catholic child begins religious instruction classes. For two years, the prayers, devotions, the 7 sacraments and creeds of the Church are explained to the child. Scriptural readings and study projects are also part of the classes. At the age of 7 or 8 the child is deemed to be of the age of reason and ready to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion.
Through Reconciliation, each child learns to attune themselves to their conscience and develop an awareness of right and wrong according to the teachings of the Church. By confessing their sins to a Priest they show a willingness to make aright the relationship with God that sin has caused to become out of alignment. As part of Reconciliation penance is performed through prayer and carrying out any actions or changes the Priest advises. This in turn prepares the child to partake in the Holy Communion which Catholics believe is the reception of the body and blood of Christ into themselves.
The next rite of passage for the child is the sacrament of Confirmation. Two to three years have passed since the reception of Holy Communion and further studies have been undertaken through the religious instruction classes. The critical years before adolescence prove to be a good time in the life of a Catholic child to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit through Confirmation. The sevenfold gifts are: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord. The reception of these gifts strengthens the formation of a heart, spirit and mind dedicated in service of God and humanity. Some children undertake independent studies under the guidance of their teachers and offer the results of their presentation as evidence that they are actively putting their faith to work in their lives.
The administering of the sacraments did not follow this pattern in the early 1940s when Josie and Sam’s daughter Emily received them. Unlike the children of the 1950s and 1960s, she received Holy Communion and Confirmation on the same Sunday when she was about 9 or 10 years old. Emily also did not receive the benefits of the extended period of instruction that came after the 1940s. She recalled a total of 3-4 years that taught her a very basic overview on devotional worship. Anything over and above that she learned after mid-life when she took it upon herself to actively learn more above devotional worship, reflection and meditation. In this posting we will look at the role her Baptismal Godparents and Confirmation sponsor played in her life. Uncle Sammy and I will also share experiences from our own Holy Communion and Confirmation.
Emily L. Serrapede was the first child of Sam and Josie Serrapede. She was:
From our family Album: Emily’s Holy Communion and Confirmation photos
The photos were taken by Gilbert of New York but since St. Rosalia’s parish was located in Brookly it is possible this photographer also had a studio here.Continue reading “71-Serrapede Family in America-Emily’s Holy Communion and Confirmation (circa 1939-1941)”