M. took another step in her religious life last night when she had her First Reconciliation. I’m told this is a big deal if you’re Catholic.

In the van after school yesterday, C. asked her what it was that she would be doing later in the evening. As best as I can remember it, here is M.’s response:

Well, later, next spring, there’s this big thing called First Communion. And it’s about getting closer to Jesus or whatever. But you get to dress up in really fancy clothes for it! Some people even wear veils! I’m so excited for it! But First Reconciliation is something you have to do before you can do that. Everyone lines up, and we take turns talking to someone, telling them all the things we’ve done wrong. Well, not all of them. It’s ok to forget some of them. But just the big ones, I guess.

I’m pretty sure C. got distracted by the fancy clothes part and stopped listening after that. And I was quietly laughing at M.’s understanding of the high points of Catholic second grade.

I realized, while she was explaining the process, that this is a whole part of her life I’m never going to be able to understand or relate to.1 There are going to be plenty of these moments, to be sure. She’s a girl. She’s growing up 33 years after me. I will never be able to relate to all of her experiences. But as I was raised a heathen, and have chosen to continue my heathen ways into adulthood, I really have no common ground with her when it comes to her Catholicism.

When she asks me questions about it, I have no answers and can only say, “Ask your Mom/Grandfather/Aunts/Teacher.” When she’s sharing the insider details of her various religious education sessions with C., I have no idea what she’s talking about.

Like I said, there are going to be plenty of moments like this as the girls grow up. But this is the first, concrete moment when I feel one of my daughters going off in a direction that I can’t really help her with. Sure, I can support her and do my best to share what little knowledge I have on the subject. I did a fine job helping her learn the Ten Commandments last month, for example. But it’s a path that if she needs a guide, it will be someone other than me.

  1. Sure, I could dive into the faith myself. But I’m pretty comfortable in my agnostic ways and don’t plan on joining any church any time soon. Pray for me, friends.