Once upon a time, Irish children made their First Communion and their family had a little party to make it easier for friends and family to make gifts of money.
Which we were then expected to cling to as if our entire future security depended on keeping that Communion money well into old age.
hire a professional photographer to capture the moment, which is not a simple affair at all.
For girls, the dresses have gone far beyond the basic white collection of frills with veil. Boys can't get away with a standard-issue suit.
And Archbishop Diarmuid Martin would like to see the back end of the excess.
This is a sacrament of the Catholic Church. It's time for the faithful (and the not so faithful) to celebrate it as such.
Good luck with that.
The average parishioner isn't going to Mass very often, if at all, so preaching from the pulpit won't reach them.
Then there's the competition aspect, which for some reason has hit at First Communions rather than baptisms or funerals. A wedding is one thing, and no one begrudges a bride the chance to dress up like a princess and arrive at the church in a stretch limo. But a seven-year-old child?
Where's the room for God in all that? This is about the Last Supper, and there's no evidence that the twelve Apostles dressed to the hilt. As for money, well, there were thirty pieces of silver involved but the guest of honor didn't keep it.
The Archbishop isn't against giving gifts to the children, which is a custom so ingrained that there's no removing it. What he's troubled by is the expense the parents think they have to go to, and when people don't have much money to throw around, it can put a hole in the budget that can put a strain on the parents.
For some parents, it's a time to show off how well they've done, which also puts strain on a married couple who haven't done well but don't want the neighbors to think they're struggling.
So it's all to come to an end by order of the Archbishop. Parishes will operate under new guidelines that encourage the entire family to come to Mass regularly as part of the preparation for First Communion. The parish, rather than the school, will be involved in the over-all process.
And there's not to be fake tanning or stretch limos involved.
Save that for the wedding.