We sign on the dotted line all the time these days. We sign away on credit card slips, checks to pay bills, petitions, permission slips, and who knows how many times we sign our name when we complete a mortgage loan for a new home? But a most beautiful and deliberate signing of names was the focus of yesterday’s enrollment ceremony for the second graders who are preparing to take their first communion with the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the most blessed sacrament.
Little Cirque and I happened to get the front seat and first spot in line for her to sign her name into “The Book” for her intention to make first communion. We were asked to step forward, sign our names (mine beside hers as a witness and back-up) and then I made the sign of the cross on her little cherub head, with her smiling little cheeks filling up my hand. I didn’t really have time to consider what was happening since we were first. It was only a year ago that I went through this same process with JD, but we were not first, and I had a moment to consider the process and watch other participants before it was our turn. This time, we approached the front of the altar and we were watched by the school principal and one of our parish priests as we carefully committed to begin this special journey. It seemed like every letter was carefully constructed by my little cherub, despite what she may not have understood about putting down her “signature” for commitment purposes. Nonetheless, it felt like an eternity with other eyes watching us “guinea pigs” go first. Luckily I was paying attention when they asked to finish with the sign of the cross on our little ones’ foreheads to “seal the deal”. How beautiful!
After Little C and I got back to our pew, we had a first class view of all the little hands gripping the pen and placing each letter of their name with such dignified intensity, as all watched. As adults, we don’t carefully consider our signature anymore. We give it so often, and perhaps half-heartedly, knowing it is one of the stones to jump in the shallow stream of adult business. I know several people who have resulted their 8-15 letters down to a curl and a line and insist it is the content of their birth name. These little souls were meticulous and intentional. An epiphany of “What’s in a name” occurred to me as I watched parents place the sign of the cross on the heads of their little ones. A name, given to us by God, before we were born, and after we die, is eternal. The church celebrated that in this “enrollment” ceremony. Oh Mother Church, you do know best.