Matthew loves church and is very reverent. I don't know why, but very early on, as soon as he was able, he quickly learned to genuflect, kneel and pray and make the sign of the cross. He knew Mass by heart. The taking of Communion was very important. He would always go with us, head bowed and hands clasped. the priest would bless him and he would return to the pew and say a silent prayer. He has a relationship with God. This is not just mimicking others. He seems to know something we do not. Perhaps it is something to be envied, but there is a blessing there that is obvious. He edears us with an empathy that can only come from God.
It was Ash Wednesday 1997. When I went to take communion Matthew went with me and walked before me. The Deacon was giving Communion in the line we were in. When Matthew got to the front of the line, he placed his hands out, left hand over right and took Communion. I was startled, but not wanting to make a fuss in the middle of mass, continued on. Matthew also took wine, kneeled, made the sign of the cross and went to his seat. Matthew appeared to be and was very pleased with himself. My husband's face was blanched in horror! Our older son was choking to keep from laughing out of nervousness. Not a word was said among us.
When we left my husband was upset. Coming from a very devout Irish Catholic family, he felt we had committed a terrible sin. When we got home he called the Parish Priest and asked what to do. Father Jack explained the Deacon did not know Matthew had not yet received first communion, and that we could arrange to have an official First Communion for Matthew the next Saturday. We did not say anything to Matthew. He did not know he had done anything wrong. I really didn't feel there was anything wrong with it either, being Ash Wednesday, it seemed appropriate. But my husband said protocol had to be followed! Later that evening Father Jack called back. He said he had thought about this and said there are things we do not know and in light of the fact Matthew has Downs he saw no need to have an Official First Communion. He added, perhaps Matthew and God knew the time was right and for him to receive Communion.
God gave us Matthew as he is. Who are we to question the workings of the Lord?.
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