First Holy Communion less about worshipping God, more about worshipping money
Commercialism has creeped into religious festivals, particularly Christmas and Easter, and now First Holy Communion seems to be more about making money and impressing other people than God and the sacrament itself, writes Leona O'Neill
ON THE morning of my First Holy Communion I was given my dress, told to put it on and we went to the church.
There was no discussion, no hair trials, no expensive dress, no three hours in the hairdresser's or beauty salon and no limo.
I was driven to the church in my dad's red Cortina wearing a beautiful dress, handmade by an aunt in America, that my sister and all my cousins wore before me, and dozens of them wore since.
It was a memorable day, mainly due to the fact that my parents got the timings wrong and we turned up as my already holy communioned classmates were filing out the doors, at least 20 times more holy than when they went in.
My outstanding memories of it are crying hysterically in the back of Dad's car thinking I was destined for Hell as my parents, the priest and the teachers frantically phoned around other churches in an effort to save my soul and inquire if I could gatecrash another Communion ceremony.
What I remember about it mostly was that it was all about God.
About being welcomed to God's table, into God's family and by missing the start time, I genuinely thought I would be in the bad books with the big man and would be knocking instead on the door of Beelzebub himself, explaining that I had hadn't made my First Communion on time and I may as well start working for him now.
These days First Holy Communions have gone the way of all religious celebrations – purely into the realms of commercialism.
Look at Easter. Jesus was nailed to a cross, died for our sins, rose from the dead and the Easter bunny was there and witnessed it all, or something.
At shopping centres up and down the land there were parents queuing to see the Easter bunny and have their child's photo taken with him.
Perhaps in the next few years marketing boffins will dream up some idea that they can nail some man to a cross outside a supermarket and charge £10 to get your picture taken with him or £15 for a photo of you hammering in a nail.
Ask any child what Christmas is about and they'll say it's all about Santa, or the more religious children might hazard a guess that it was the day that Santa was born in the Middle East after his mother Mary and his father Joseph travelled to Bethlehem all the way from the North Pole on a donkey.
First Holy Communions are heading the same way. It's less about God and more about that other God people worship, money.
It's First Communion season now and passing Catholic churches of a Saturday and Sunday morning there are limos outside, there are little girls wearing dresses worth £1,000, there are families booking restaurant function rooms for 70 people to celebrate, cakes worth £100, mass hair appointments, tiaras with real diamonds and mothers spending a fortune on their own outfits.
And the kids seem to be in it just for the money. The question on every child's mind on a Monday morning after their Communion is not about how much more pious they feel or how much closer to God they are. It's 'How much did you get?'
The more Donald Trump-minded among the kids will have made sure Mum booked visitations to every close and distant relative they were aware of, no matter how far away, and will have made hundreds of pounds.
Our son Finn made his First Holy Communion on Sunday. He wore a suit his brother wore before him. I did my own hair and wore a dress from my wardrobe.
We gathered in my mother's house and I made lasagne for 15 people. We had a lovely day, we didn't spend a fortune and no-one went to Hell. A victory, in my eyes.