Carla Drift – Years of Dawn


My first communion was a big feast. By my baptism I was already initiated in the Church when I was a few days old. Some boys in our village are registered to the civic guard at birth: they remain member their whole life. Of my baptism I can not remember anything. However, I still wear with me my Christian name with the baptismal names of my godmother and godfather as remembrance.

Later I understood that baptism is the only sacrament that is recognised by the entire Christianity [1]. The children’s baptism is given to children when they are a few days old in order to let the children be in God’s grace as soon as possible. This is important in times of a huge infant mortality. Maybe it is also a relic of the patriarchal Roman law, where the life of a new-born is determined by recognition by the father. In the reformed church near the end of the second world war in 1944, there was a schism about the question whether a child will be in God’s grace through baptism or whether baptism is a vocation to live as God’s child [2]. Our village was not concerned with this kind of questions; our village lived within the rich Catholic life with all its habits and defects.

[3]

At the beginning of the primary school we were prepared for our first communion. We learned the first principles of the Catholic faith. In the middle of the spring I did my first communion. I went dressed in a beautiful white dress in a procession to the Church. The first hosting sticked to my palate; this was my only special reminder of this High mass. Then we had a big family celebration. The entire family of my mother and my father were present. I was overwhelmed with gifts. My parents were proud that their first daughter was included in the community and in the Church. I felt myself in the center of attention.

[4]

With my faith I played half hide and seek. Invisibly the guardian angel was always present, I foresaw if something might go wrong. I made sure that it did end well. But at my right shoulder, I did not feel the guardian angel. It seemed to me unwise to show my doubt. Nobody did that. Nobody in our village doubted on the next breath, except if one was very old or if there was anyone in the family dying and afterwards died. Then we went to Church to pray for the soul of the deceased and for themselves. I have thought a few years that in my mother’s village in Belgium the largest family was named Late; they always talked about this name. Around my sixth year I found out that the family Late lived half in Heaven and half on the cemetery: later I would also go to this family if I would live neatly. In our village you had to behave very bad to stay in purgatory for a long time. The older women prayed a lot and all families faithfully attended the year’s services and the cemetery on All Souls Day. For hell and purgatory, I was not afraid.

When I was eight years, I did the Holy confirmation [5]. The Holy Spirit would help me to strengthen my faith. The Bishop said at my confirmation: “Signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti” (Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit). Out of boredom I had learned some Latin from the Missal of my father during many long Masses. The gift of the Holy Spirit did not help me with my faith. I saw increasing evidence that the father God was created to the likeness of his believers and not the other way around as the Catholic Church reminded us. Around that time the “rich Catholic Life” started to diminish in South Limburg; we only went to church at important Christian days.

Our master in the fifth and sixth class had finished an internship at De Werkplaats Kindergemeenschap – The Workshop Childrens’ Communion – of Kees and Betty Boeke in Bilthoven. He was since one year at our school and I have learned a lot during these two years. He encouraged me to read together with my father many books from the library and we made many essays and presentation on what we have read. My father and I have read Kees Boeke’s “We in the universe, a universe inourself” [6] from cover to cover. My father and I bought a microscope and a telescope. Together we read books on astronomy and microscopy. For school we made at least four essays and presentations on these topics.

[7]

We did the same for world history and for other religions. We read books on Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

At the national final test in primary school, I did not play hide and seek. The master proudly told that our class had an excellent outcome. The entire class was well above the national average. I had only one error on a specific question we could not know, because we did not live in Holland. The master ensured that everyone entered an appropriate further education. I went to the gymnasium in the city.


[1] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doop_(sacrament)

[2] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrijmaking

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Child_baptism_with_water.jpg

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Bundesarchiv_Bild_194-0552-30,_Prozession_der_Kommunionkinder.jpg

[5] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vormsel

[6] See: Boeke, Kees, Wij in het heelal, een heelal in ons – Twee tochten: door macrokosmos en microkosmos. Amsterdam: J.M. Meulenhoff, 1959. This book has been published as Cosmic Viewthe Universe in 40 Jumps in English

[7] Source image: http://www.vendian.org/mncharity/cosmicview/ . The English version of this book can be read by this hyperlink.

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