Hello, I live in Los Angeles and a bit of a controversy has recently come up at our catholic school.
Our priest wants the boys in second grade who are getting their first communion to wear all black suits. Some parents blindly say OK, while others are upset.
My question: What is church doctrine regarding attire at this sacrament cerimony?
For as long as I can remember, all children receiving their first communion wear white as a symbol of purity.
There are no rules. It’s all up to local custom. Girls traditionally wear white for every church occasion until marriage after which they wear black. I don’t even see the symbolism of boys wearing white only for first communion. It’s certainly not a universal custom.
It is not uncommon. For instance, this parish in Virginia states:
All First Holy Communion Boys Should Wear:
A white shirt with a dark suit or dark pants and a dark jacket (dark blue, gray, or black).
A solid-colored gray, black, or dark blue tie
Dark dress shoes and socks
The traditional practice of wearing a white arm band bow on the left arm has been restored and is required for each boy.
All First Holy Communion Girls Should Wear:
A modest white dress which falls below the knee and has some kind of sleeve. Please, if the dress your child is wearing is sleeveless or has spaghetti straps, make sure she wears a white cover-up, jacket, or sweater.
White dress socks and white socks or stockings
A white head covering. This could include a First Communion veil, chapel veil, or flower wreath.
As a matter of fact, lack of rules leads to chaos. The Church always has at least guidelines, and when guidelines are lacking, we have Tradition.
His assumption is based perhaps on the fact that most people would do something without any good reason other than the priest said it or everyone else is doing. Few actually bother to look into what is being done in a certain way and why, and whether there are other options.
I would suggest if you want your son to wear a white suit that you make an appointment with the priest to discuss this with him. In the end, I do think it is important that you following what Father tells you to do. Even if you do not agree. I think its important that he hears personally from you, also. Please pray before you visit with Father that you can listen and speak with peace in your heart.
Our sons, who are now 23 and 17, both wore white suits for their First Holy Communion. One son wore white shoes and the other had black. Our older son also wore a white suit for his Confirmation and our older daughter choose a white dress for Confirmation. We were not given a set of instructions to follow for choosing color of clothing for these sacraments.
If your son can not wear a white suit, maybe you would like him to have a white First Communion tie or armbow. Our sons wore these as well.
Please be at peace knowing that the important part of the day is not what each child wears, but that the child is welcome to the Banquet Table of the Lord and receives the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Your child’s soul shall sparkle with the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and he will receive Jesus in Holy Communion to nourish him with graces. He’ll come back to that Table of the Lord over and over and over throughout his life to be filled again and again with Jesus in Holy Eucharist.
Congratulations to your son and to you and his mother for such a wonderful day.
For the first time in many years I saw a young man make his First Communion in a white suit this past weekend. The other boys wore shirts and ties and one other had a dark suit on. This has been the norm for the many First Communions I have been to over the years with the exception of the white suit. The Church does not have a doctrine regarding dress for First Communion but since the priest has issued guidelines unless you speak with him first, I believe you should follow the guidelines.
When I made my First Holy Communion, all of the children had to wear white robes over their clothes. The same when we made our confirmation.
The priest was concerned about economic disparity in the parish, and didn’t want the poorer students to stand out.
I agree that a lack of rules leads to chaos. I also believe that there should be options. I very much liked the options given in a previous post. Boys had to have the armbands which showed they were making their first Holy Communion. Options were given so that they would look nice without causing parents with less financial ability to become alarmed. The options for the girls were all tasteful as well.
Having raised eight children I know what it is like to have to budget for a pair of white shoes, if that was required. We lived from hand to mouth, and fortunately my dear mother was an excellent seamstress and made the lovely white first Communion dress for my daughter. This was passed down to my other three daughters.
A first Communion suit in white was also given to us from a relative. (I had many!) And, this too was passed down to the younger three boys in due time.
I wish more would follow his excellent example. Over the years I’ve seen some of the children dressed to the teeth, with other in their regular clothes. A robe would enhance the religous “mood” of the event, instead of turning it into a fashion show.
I had never heard of the tradition of boys wearing white suits for First Communion until a couple of years ago. My dad is 69 years old and he did not wear a white suit to his First Communion. I think it is more of a local custom, but certainly strong on some areas.
As far as other parents blindly saying “ok”, that is obedience. It is fine to bring your concerns to the pastor, but unless there is clear church teaching to the contrary, the pastor gets to make the call.
Does the priest have the proper authority to define those rules? The OP was simply curious about whether this was his personal idea (we’ve unfortunately seen plenty of our shepherds introducing their own novelties when they shouldn’t…) or whether this is an affirmed Catholic (read universal) practice of the Church :shrug: Obviously if the priest asked all kids to wear a black suit, yours can’t show up in a white suit I guess he is simply trying to understand. And this is to some degree the benefit that Christ gives us:
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing
Its local custom, thank goodness. We live in a very poor area, and if we required the little boys to wear suits, there would be no First Communion! We don’t even have anyplace within the county that sells suits and the nearest place is 1-1/2 hours drive away over a mountain. Many of our families don’t even have cars!
Generally, the girls wear white if they have a white dress. If not, the First Communion teacher tries to scrounge one up and keeps a lending library of dresses. Veils are optional - again, depends on the family’s being able to find/afford one.
The boys are asked to wear dark pants and a white shirt. Generally, they wear their one pair of shoes (tennis/running sports shoes are most common), a white shirt and a tie (back to the lending library if necessary).
That’s it. I’ve seen boys in hand-me-down, ill fitting suits from many generations ago as well as boys in dark jeans. I’ve seen girls in light pastels that were merely sundresses.
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