There’s been a story recently in the news about a boy with an intellectual disability who was denied first communion on the grounds that his priest did not believe the boy had “sufficient knowledge” of Christ, a requirement for first communion. In trying to think back to my own first communion, I can’t recall that I had “sufficient knowledge” of anything besides a really fancy white dress and shoes that I was going to be allowed to wear. Does any seven-year old?
Religion seems too big a topic to address here, so I won’t. This whole incident simply made me simply wonder about the inner spiritual life of my son, who is close in age to this boy and has intellectual delays as well. Even if we aren’t a real “organized religion” sort of family, I still want to instill him with a moral compass, a sense of compassion and a deep connection with the world.
Something happened recently that reminded me that I need not worry.
Like many kids, my son has trouble shutting out ambient sounds in his environment—but his filter is really non-existent. Combine this with a love of vehicles, and every train whistle, car alarm, back-up truck beep and fire truck siren must be commented on, regardless of what else is going on in the moment.
Recently he pointed out that several ambulances were going by as we walked in our busy neighborhood. I usually tune them out like all jaded city-dwellers, but they were loud and it was a little more intense than normal. He looked nervous so I tried to re-assure him by saying that I hoped that everyone was safe and OK. Imagine my surprise when I realized that he had created a very real and steady practice of pointing out every subsequent ambulance siren to me with the words, “Hope everyone is OK.” I had stopped hearing ambulances long ago, but here he was blessing each and every one and reminding me to join him. Is more “sufficient knowledge” than this required?