FIRST HOLY COMMUNION
The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses various names for the Eucharist. Each name evokes certain aspects. It is called:
- Eucharist – because it is an act of thanksgiving to God.
- The Lord’s Supper – because it is connected to the supper which Jesus took with his disciples the night before he died…and it anticipates the wedding feast of the lamb in the heavenly kingdom.
- The Breaking of Bread – because Jesus used this rite when he blessed and broke the bread and gave it to his disciples at the Last Supper, signifying that all who eat this bread, his body, enter into communion with him and form one body in him.
- The Eucharistic assembly – because it is celebrated among the assembly of the faithful.
- The Holy Sacrifice – because it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.
- The Holy and Divine Liturgy or Most Blessed Sacrament – because the Church’s liturgy finds its center in the celebration of this sacrament. This is the Sacrament of sacraments.
- Holy Communion – because through this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.
- Holy Mass (Missa) – because the liturgy concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful to fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.
This is a short summary of the meanings given for each name in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For fuller understanding read (CCC 1328-1332).
Responsibilities of those involved
The candidate for First Eucharist must meet the following requirements:
- Must have prepared for and received the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Eucharist for the first time (see CCC1457, NDC 36, B2;Canon 914).
- Must have attained the age of reason, usually around seven years of age or above (The parents of a minor and the catecheticist, together with the religious education director and pastor, must determine the child’s readiness to receive
- the sacrament).
- Be baptized
- Be Catholic (candidates baptized in another denomination must make a Profession of Faith)
- Be properly instructed
- A child is ready to receive the Sacrament of First Eucharist when the parents, the pastor or director of religious education and the catechist have discerned that the child according to his/her capacity:
- Has been prepared for the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to First Communion.
- Participates actively and consciously in Sunday Eucharistic Celebrations on a regular basis.
- Understands that the Holy Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.
- Understands that the Eucharist is the commemoration of Christ’s last meal withhis disciples and a memorial of his sacrifice for our salvation.
- Understands that by sharing in this special meal, we become brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ on earth.
It is required that they (children) have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so as to understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and can receive the Body of the Lord with faith and devotion (Canon 913 – §1).
Parents have the right and responsibility to:
- Be involved in the preparation of their child.
- Be models for their child in their faith life.
- Discern, with the pastor and the religious education director, their child’s readiness to prepare and receive the
- sacrament of Eucharist.
- In extraordinary circumstances (discerned with the pastor) designate another adult to fulfill this responsibility.
It is the responsibility, in the first place, of parents and those who take the place of parents as well as of the pastor to see that children who have reached the use of reason are correctly prepared and are nourished by the divine food as early as possible, preceded by sacramental confession; it is also for the pastor to be vigilant lest any children come to the Holy Banquet who have not reached the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed (Canon 914).
Parents are the first educators of their children. Every family is different and their participation in the life of the Church can vary according to their circumstances.
Parents should be encouraged to:
- Share their faith story with their child.
- Participate in Sunday Eucharist with their child.
- Model a Christian commitment of prayer, community worship, and service.
- Be committed to help their child meet the attendance and formation requirements for the Sacrament of First Eucharist.
- Pray for, and with, their child. Children’s preparation for the reception of the Eucharist begins in the home. The family has the most important role; in communicating the Christian and human values that form the foundation for a child’s understanding of the Eucharist. Children who participate with their family in the Mass, experience the Eucharistic mystery in an initial way and gradually learn to join with the liturgical assembly in prayer (NDC 36A,3a)
If you have questions for Adult First Communion please see the Confirmation page.