The Nicklebys: A Story for Catholic Children
by: Sue Felton

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: The First Holy Communion

One day Mum has a big surprise for Celeste. "I think it is time I started preparing you for your First Holy Communion," she says.

Celeste is very excited. She remembers when she asked Jesus to make her just a little bit bigger so she could receive Him at Communion time. She thought it would be a long time before her prayer was answered.

"Celeste, you have grown up a lot this year," Mum says. "You have tried very hard to be a big girl since you were promoted on your birthday. Soon we can ask Father Brown if you can receive your First Holy Communion."

Celeste knows receiving Holy Communion is a very special gift. Jesus loves her very much and wants to come to her. In return, she has to learn her catechism.

Mum says that it is very important to learn about Jesus but it is even more important to prepare her heart to receive Him. "You can show your love for Jesus by making Him little gifts: a small sacrifice, a good deed, perhaps an extra prayer. These will all show Jesus how much you love Him."

Celeste works hard and soon Mum thinks she is ready to receive Jesus for the first time. Mum and Celeste go to visit Father Brown.

"I think Celeste is ready to receive her First Holy Communion," Mum says to Father Brown. "She has worked hard learning her catechism and she has prepared her heart well."

Father Brown smiles. "If I hear your first confession next Saturday, then you can receive Jesus for the first time a week later, during Mass on Sunday morning."

Celeste feels so happy. She can hardly wait. Her face is shining with joy. "It will be the best day of my life," she says.

Mum agrees. "For such a special day you should look your best, on the outside as well as on the inside," she says. "We will have to find you a white dress. I wonder if Kate's First Holy Communion dress will fit you. When I find it, you can try it on."

Sitting on top of the piano is a beautiful photo of Kate. It was taken on her First Holy Communion Day. Celeste looks at the photo. "Kate's dress is so pretty," she says. The dress has at least three layers of soft, floaty, white fabric. There are white ribbon roses around the hem. On Kate's head is a ring like a halo. A veil, which is attached to the ring, hangs down her back. There is a big smile on Kate's face. It is not an everyday kind of happy smile. It is a best-day-of-my-life happy smile.

Mum goes off to the garage to look for Kate's dress. "It will be in one of these boxes," she says to Celeste. There are about a dozen boxes of stored away clothes. Mum searches one box after another but she can't find the dress. "It has to be here somewhere," she mutters. But it seems Mum is wrong. The dress is not in any of the boxes.

Celeste is very disappointed. "What will I wear?" she wonders.

Mum decides that Celeste will have to have a new dress of her own. Together they take a trip to town. There are only a few shops in town that sell children's clothes. It doesn't take long to discover that there is not one single suitable white dress in any of them.

By now Celeste is nearly in tears. Mum is upset too. What will they do? Then Mum remembers that anything can be bought over the Internet.

"Cheer up, Celeste," says Mum smiling. "I bet we'll soon find the perfect dress on the Internet. If we order a dress today there will be plenty of time for it to arrive before your First Holy Communion Day."

Mum and Celeste have a wonderful time browsing different shops' websites. Mum was right: there are lots and lots of dresses to choose from. There are so many beautiful dresses Celeste cannot decide which dress she likes best. "What was your First Holy Communion dress like?" she asks Mum.

"My dress was very special," replies Mum. "Nanna made it. She used antique lace and silk and she spent hours embroidering bullion roses on the skirt of the top layer. There was a stiff petticoat which was worn underneath to make the dress skirt stick out. I felt like a princess, or perhaps a bride, when I was wearing it."

"What happened to your dress, Mum?" asks Celeste. "Do you still have it?"

"The dress belonged to me first because I am the oldest girl in my family. But all my sisters wore it after me. I don't know what happened to it," says Mum. "It was probably stored away in a box like Kate's and never seen again."

None of the dresses on the Internet look quite as special as Mum's dress sounds. But they are all still very beautiful. Celeste finally makes up her mind and chooses one. Mum measures Celeste to make sure they order the correct size. "Wouldn't it be awful if the dress arrives and it is too small?" says Mum.

Now that the dress has been ordered, Mum has to organise a First Holy Communion celebration. "We must have a party after Mass," decides Mum. "It will be such a special day. Everyone will want to join us to celebrate."

At the top of the guest list is Auntie Vanessa and Uncle John. Auntie Vanessa and Uncle John are Celeste's Godparents. All the other aunts and uncles must also be invited and of course, all the cousins. "And Granny and Nanna and Granddad will want to be here too," adds Dad. Then there are the family's friends who live in the parish. There will be quite a crowd.

Soon it is Saturday. It is First Confession Day. All the family have decided to go to the church with Celeste. Mum and Dad and Edward, Kate and Joe are going to make their confessions too. "Celeste, you must have a sparkling clean soul when you receive Jesus," says Dad. "And it is always good for us to polish up our souls too."

Celeste is a bit nervous. She wonders if she will remember what she is supposed to say and do. But Mum reassures her that Father Brown will help her if she forgets anything. Celeste goes into the confessional first. A few minutes later, she reappears. Her face is shining. There is a big smile on her face. She looks like a girl with a sparkling clean soul.

Now there is only a week to wait until the big day. Mum, Dad and the children spend all the free moments of the week cleaning and shopping and cooking. The house becomes organised and spotless. The freezer fills up with delicious food for the First Holy Communion feast. Celeste gets more and more excited.

There is only one thing wrong. Celeste's dress has not arrived. Every day Celeste rushes to the door when she hears the postman and every day she is disappointed. The postman does not have a parcel for her containing her beautiful white dress. Celeste starts to worry. Finally, Mum gets worried too. She thinks she'd better ring the shop to find out if they have posted the dress. Yes, the dress was posted days ago. It should arrive before the end of the week. But Friday comes and there is still no dress.

"I'm very sorry, Celeste," says Mum. "We will have to find some other dress for you to wear. Perhaps we can sew some ribbon roses on your white summer dress."

Celeste feels like crying. She knows she would have looked very special in the new dress. She wants to look her best for Jesus. Her white summer dress is pretty but it is not special.

"A new dress would have been nice, Celeste," says Mum. "But you will still look beautiful. And on the inside you will look just perfect with your pure clean soul."

Celeste knows Mum is right but it doesn't really make her feel better. But suddenly she has a wonderful thought. She realises she has the chance to offer Jesus one last gift, a really big gift. She will smile and try not to mind about the dress. That might make Jesus very happy.

Finally the day of Celeste's First Holy Communion arrives. Celeste is up early. Nanna is up early too. She rings Mum to discuss the food for the feast. Nanna has been busy cooking lots of lasagne. Mum tells Nanna all about the dress disaster. She says that Celeste is trying to be very brave. "Perhaps you could tell Celeste how pretty she looks in her summer dress," suggests Mum.

Mum is braiding Celeste's hair. It takes a long time but when Mum has finished Celeste looks beautiful. Now all Celeste has to do is pop on her white dress just before they leave for Mass.

Mum starts to brush Lizzie's hair. She wants French braids too. Before Mum has finished, the front doorbell rings. Kate goes off to see who is at the door. Mum and the girls can hear a hurried clattering of heels on the tiled floor and then the bedroom door opens and there is Nanna. Nanna is clutching a garment bag.

"Good," she says. "I've got here in time. Celeste, look what I have here." Nanna unzips the bag to reveal the most perfect white dress Celeste has ever seen. It is made from silk and antique lace and has dozens of bullion roses sewn on the overskirt. She can see the dress has a stiff petticoat underneath it.

"It's Mum's First Holy Communion dress!" exclaims Celeste.

"Yes," says Nanna. "Auntie Jenny was the last of my daughters to wear the dress. After her First Holy Communion I put the dress carefully away. It is a very special dress. I wanted to keep it as a special memory of five beautiful First Holy Communions. When Mum told me your white dress didn't arrive in time, I decided to get the dress out. I didn't mention it to Mum just in case the dress was damaged or dirty. But it looks perfect. Would you like to wear it?"

Celeste does want to wear the dress. It might be very old but Nanna has looked after it very well. Celeste decides the dress must be an heirloom. Soon she is standing in front of the mirror looking at her reflection. She is very pleased with what she sees. "I look just right for Jesus," she says.

All the family are at Mass. Celeste is sitting in the front pew with Mum and Dad and Auntie Vanessa and Uncle John. Lizzie is sitting on Auntie Vanessa's lap and Dad is holding Annie. Edward, Kate and Joe are sitting behind with all the cousins.

Celeste can hardly keep still. She has waited so long to receive Jesus. Father Brown has told her that she will receive Jesus before anyone else.

When it is time for Communion, Celeste walks towards the altar. Father Brown is waiting there with Jesus. Celeste's heart is beating fast. She thinks, "I love you Jesus. Please come into my heart." And then a moment later, Celeste is returning to the pew. She has received her First Holy Communion. She kneels down and bows her head in prayer. She thinks about how much Jesus loves her. How He is always in the church waiting for her. She asks Jesus to make her holy and to make her love Him even more. She smiles. Celeste feels very happy.

Later that night, Mum is tucking Celeste into bed. "It's been such a wonderful day," says Celeste. "It was perfect in every way. Of course, receiving Jesus for the first time was the most perfect bit of the day. But wearing your dress made it even more perfect. Do you think Jesus arranged for me to wear that dress?"

"Yes," says Mum. "I am sure He did."

"He must love me so much," yawns Celeste.

"Yes, He certainly does," agrees Mum.

Celeste is very tired but she does not want to go to sleep. As soon as she goes to sleep the best day of her life will be over. She wants her First Holy Communion Day to go on forever and ever. But then she remembers she will be going to Mass again tomorrow. Tomorrow will be her Second Holy Communion Day. And then in a few days time it will be her Third Holy Communion Day. Every time she goes to Mass she will receive Jesus. There are a lot of wonderful celebrations ahead of her. Feeling very content, Celeste lets herself drift off to sleep.

Article Permissions: Creative Commons License

Back to SF Spirit Kids Main Page