When I Was a Child: Children's Interpretations of First Communion
First Communion is generally understood as a rite of passage in which seven- and eight-year-old Catholic children transform from baptized participants in the Church to members of the body of Christ, the universal Catholic Church. This official Church account, however, ignores what the rite actually may mean to its participants. In When I Was a Child, Susan Ridgely Bales demonstrates that the accepted understanding of a religious ritual can shift dramatically when one considers the often neglected perspective of child participants.
Bales followed Faith Formation classes and interviewed communicants, parents, and priests in an African American parish and in a parish containing both white and Latino congregations. By letting the children speak for themselves through their words, drawings, and actions, When I Was a Child stresses the importance of rehearsal, the centrality of sensory experiences, and the impact of expectations in the communicants' interpretations of the Eucharist. In the first sustained ethnographic study of how children interpret and help shape their own faith, Bales finds that children's perspectives give new contours to the traditional understanding of a common religious ritual. Ultimately, she argues that scholars of religion should consider age as distinct a factor as race, class, and gender in their analyses.
First Communion Celebrations
A Method for Studying Childrens Interpretations
3 Learning the Mysteries of the Church
4 Connecting to Parish and Family
Adding Childrens Voices in Religious Studies
Structured Interview Questions for Parents and Catechists
Other editions - View all
activities adults African American allowed altar asked attended began believed belonging Blessed Sacrament Catholic body bread Burlington catechists celebration chil child Christ clothes communicants Communion congregation continued conversations create culture discuss drawings dren dress Durham eight-year-old emphasized Eucharist event experience explained expressed Faith Formation classes Father February feel felt Figure gestures girl going hands Holy Cross hoped Host important included initiation instance interpretations interviewed Jesus knowledge Latino learned lesson liturgy lives Mass Maureen meaning ment moved North offered parents parish parishioners participation party performing perhaps pews picture practice preparation presence Press priest receiving receiving the Sacrament relationship religion religious response rite ritual Sacrament Catholic Church scholars seemed sense Spanish standing Sunday talked taste teach teachers tion told traditions understanding University wanted week wine York