In the Catholic tradition, when a child is Baptized the light of Christ is given to his parents in the symbol of a candle, for them to protect and keep it glowing brightly. His Christian faith and morality are their responsibility, and they joyfully accept this extra burden in the hope of leading their child to Heaven.
In parts of Europe, the tradition continues at his First Communion when the candle is lit again and the child and his parents both hold it. The three of them are now responsible for the faith and spiritual well being of the child. The parents acknowledge, symbolically, that the child has reached the "age of reason" and now must stand before God as his own person, but not yet alone. His parents still bear the burden of teaching, instructing, leading, and counseling their child in the way he should grow. His salvation is a team effort.
At Confirmation,he holds the candle alone. His soul is his own, and his parents must step back and allow him to make his own decisions about what to do with it. He stands alone before the Throne of the Almighty and must answer for himself.
We watched today as our son took his next step upon this pathway. This morning, our #3 received the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord in his First Holy Communion. He beamed from the pew where he sat with his classmates and smiled with innocent joy at all he had achieved. It has been a long and winding road to get him to this point, and I think that we all shared in his sense of relief and his profound happiness.
His father and I cried. Our eyes brimmed with tears of pride in our son who has worked and pushed himself to remember all that he needed to know. He has struggled to understand the awesome mysteries laid out before him and to understand the miracle that is the Consecration. He truly deserved the happiness of this day. There was also tear, or perhaps two, over the passage of time and over the little baby with the goofy hair who this morning was offered the Body of Christ and nodded his head, flashed a smile and said 'Amen.' And with that one simple word, his faith became more fully his own.
I know that you're thinking to yourself "That's great for #3, but what kind of sexy shoes was the Mom wearing this morning?" What else? Leopard, of course.