Holy Communion brawls
Here’s a real letter sent to the fashion agony aunt of a London magazine last week:
“Dear Wardrobe Mistress, My daughter from my first marriage is getting married, and I want my new wife to look stunning at the wedding. She is slim, with a little bottom. I have no limit on my budget.”
The reply was delightfully terse: “I hope you don’t use this special day to flaunt your new wife’s ‘little bottom’ at your ex. Please encourage wife no. 2 to keep the sisterhood in mind and dress with decorum.”
Tra-la-la. So, what’s going on here? Man is ditched, then he gets hitched again, and really wants to flaunt his muse. Translated loosely, this is another way of blowing a raspberry at his ex-wife.
But that’s London and this is Malta. What with divorce having just been introduced we don’t have much of these tense, offspring wedding situations. Instead we play out the same act, in tragicomic scenes, during Holy Communion festivities which are the in place for ex-es to parade the new loves of their lives.
Here are snippets of a few e-mails I got: one anguished single parent wrote about the pain of having to share her son’s special moment, with her former husband, his girlfriend and their new baby.
Another wrote about how his wife and her boyfriend sat next to his daughter during Mass, while he had to stay at the back pew in church. Another wrote about a fight that broke out at Fleur-de-Lys church: the father of the little girl did not want the partner of his estranged wife to be included in the family photo with his daughter.
I mean, enough already. When is Archbishop Paul Cremona going to wake up from his slumber? Or is he still of the opinion that separated people stay single until marriage annulment?
It’s high time he got in touch with what’s happening out there, and he needs to take a stand: unless there’s a very valid reason, boyfriends and girlfriends of parents whose children are receiving First Holy Communion have no place during the Mass celebration.
This common sense really should come from the parents themselves, but alas, as we all know, a man or a woman scorned do not really see things clearly and need to be nudged in the right direction.
Even if we leave the religious aspect aside, Holy Communion is an opportunity for the community to celebrate a milestone in their children’s lives. All major religions have something similar. It’s a day for the children to be surrounded by their friends and family and for them it’s a special day, even if it’s just about the frills.
Of course, as with any other big day, occasions like these are extremely delicate for separated/single parents. But ideally any factors that can spoil the harmony on the day need to be done away with. Which means that unless the estranged couple share a hippie spirit and are really good friends and so are their new loves, then the girlfriends and boyfriends of the child’s parents should stay at home. There is no place for them in the event.
‘Look-at-the-hottie-on-my-arm’ might not be your reason for wanting to take along your bf/gf. You might feel you need their support, or you might feel that in truth they are more of a father/mother than the real one.
That may be so. But let us remember that the parents’ relationship with its problems and discord belongs to the parents and has nothing to do with the child, nor should the child get involved.
And more importantly a child is always loyal to both biological parents – and both parents should honour that. We cannot undo that night which brought them into the world, and so children connect us parents to each other for good: whether we stay married or not. Therefore on this special day it is our responsibility – for the sake of the child – to avoid awkward, conflicting moments. It’s not easy (and I’m speaking from experience here) but if we keep in mind that the day is not ours, but our child’s, then the focus ought to be clear.
Of course the boyfriends or girlfriends can make it all up at the after party (if there is such a thing). Or, if you’re that keen on the religious significance, you can have a mini-second Holy Communion celebration next time you go to Mass, with the new love of your life present this time round.