I started receiving the holy communion at the age of nine. Believe me when I say I had no idea what this sacrament was really about. Everything I was taught in preparation for First Holy Communion was typical cramming, with no depth to it.
I started attending catechism classes in August of 2009. This is where qualified adult Catholics teach children (and sometimes adults) preparing for their First Holy Communion about the Catholic doctrine. It was at this time that I learned that if you received Holy Communion while not in a state of grace, the Communion would either stick to your tongue or you would start throwing up blood and confessing your sins right there.
During confession week, which was about a week before the first Holy Communion, one of our instructors caught me talking with my friend, Winifred, during catechism class and concluded that I would not participate in the first Holy Communion anymore. Mind you, I’d already been cleared for confession, and First Holy Communion was only a week away.
Until the catechist got involved, I thought it was all anger and jokes. The catechist pleaded on my behalf. Other instructors pleaded as well. My parents begged. But he paid no attention to anyone.
Winifred, with whom I had this conversation that got me in trouble, had catechist’s daughter privileges, so no one saw her.
This instructor guy later revealed that he expelled me because I was too small to receive Holy Communion. I was only eight years old at the time. Winifred was also eight years old. Everyone else was either 8, 9, 10, or 11. Every Catholic is aware of this. Catechism classes are open to children as young as six years old.
I returned the following year. This time was a little different because I didn’t have to reread the catechism book. I still remembered the majority of the lessons.
I received my first Holy Communion in April 2010 at the age of nine. I was Confirmed in August of the same year. At the age of nine, all I knew about the sanctity of holy communion was the frightening throwing up stories they told us in catechism.
I didn’t play with the Holy Communion and did my best to avoid sin so that I could participate.
In 2020, I began to struggle with my faith, became inconsistent, and eventually fell out.
Every time I went to confession, I didn’t last a week before reverting to my old ways. Every Sunday at church, I wondered how people were able to receive the communion. Is it possible that they didn’t sin at all?
The Penitential Act is a practice in the Catholic Church that takes place at the beginning of Mass, just before the readings. Everyone confesses their sins to God and receives forgiveness at this time.
We learned in catechism that all sins are not equal and are thus classified based on their gravity. Mortal Sins are the most serious of all and involve acts that directly violate God’s ten commandments. Venial Sins are minor sins that are committed inadvertently, such as being rude to a stranger. We were taught that the sins forgiven during mass are Venial sins. For the Mortal sins, you must obtain forgiveness and reconciliation through Confession, also known as the sacrament of penance.
There has been some criticism that Catholics abuse this sacrament, committing sins against God as often as they want because they can always return, confess, and be forgiven. Now comes the tricky part.
I stopped going to confession because I needed to reach a certain level of intimacy with God before seeking penance through a priest. And I hadn’t arrived yet.
I was stuck at home with my family during the lockdown and couldn’t make any excuses for not taking the holy communion when everyone else did. I felt like a sinner and during holy communion, I had to endure the stares of people who shared my seat in church.
My mother asked me if I was going to receive Holy Communion one Sunday, and I said no. Her response broke me. The next weekend, I ran to a priest for confession.
Even after that, I didn’t feel holy enough to receive the holy communion. With the way I was feeling, I felt like I was committing an even graver sin.
One issue I have with the Catholic Church is that they are often nonchalant about one’s personal relationship with God, as long as you follow the church’s doctrine, you are on track. This is a personal observation; please correct me if I am wrong.
My struggle became so intense that I began reaching out to Christian creatives online for assistance in finding my way back to God. The catholic church (particularly in underdeveloped areas) does not make room for the struggling Christian. You just have to sort yourself out, anyhow you want to do it; blend in, follow the doctrines, or whatever. There is no such community for you as a struggling young Christian. Don’t even bring up CYON because I’ve been there and it didn’t give anything remotely close to what I needed.
I am at the point in my Catholic life where I will not return to being a communicant until I have fixed my personal relationship with God. Confession only helps me for a few weeks. I want something solid and long-lasting. I don’t want to be doing it because everyone else is or because my family is watching.
I want to say Amen to Christ’s body when and only when my heart is truly open to receive him. And in the meantime, I’m honing my glaring skills. Anyone who shoots at me will be shot back at.
I sincerely hope that everyone takes care not to bring condemnation upon themselves by receiving the Holy Eucharist with sin heavy in their hearts, because this stuff is extremely powerful. More potent than anything we learned in catechism classes.
Are you a communicant? Have you had any fights? Please let me know in the comments as your contribution may assist others who are having difficulty receiving Holy Communion.