Receiving the Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic church as well as many other Christian denominations. It is often referred to as Holy Communion and it is an integral part of every Sunday Mass.
What parents might not remember is that there was an age when they weren't permitted to partake in Holy Communion. They first went through a first Holy Communion ceremony at an age when they were deemed ready to make the choice to follow the teachings of the church.
Perhaps now it is time for your own children to go through this rite of passage and you're wondering what you can do to help with first Holy Communion preparation.
If so, you've come to the right place. Read on to find out more about the first Holy Communion ceremony and what you can do to help your young ones prepare.
What is First Holy Communion?
First Holy Communion is a ceremony in which a child, for the first time, receives the Eucharist. It is prefaced with classes teaching them the significance of the Eucharist which usually spans from September to May.
In the Catholic church and a few other Christian denominations, children have reached the appropriate age when they turn seven and are still eligible until they turn fourteen. It is common for children to receive their first Holy Communion when they are in the second grade.
First Holy Communion Preparation
Whether your child is in their first Holy Communion classes now or they're approaching the eligible age, it's a good idea to contribute to their education and preparation both at home and in Mass. We'll talk about some of the most important things a parent can do to help.
1) Continue First Holy Communion Education at Home
First Holy Communion groups often consist of twenty or more children. While in class, your child may become distracted by the other kids or find that the teacher doesn't have time to answer all of their questions. You can help your child understand the importance of Holy Communion by continuing their education at home.
Explain to them that the term "Eucharist" signifies thanksgiving to God for bestowing upon us for His creation, redemption, and sanctification. Tell the story of the Last Supper and explain that in the Catholic church, it is believed that the host becomes Jesus's body and the wine Jesus's blood, allowing us to become united with Jesus.
2) Attend Sunday Mass Every Week
In their first Holy Communion classes, your child is learning the importance and beauty of receiving the Eucharist. It may be difficult for them to understand the significance of this sacrament if you are choosing, every week, to forgo your opportunity to be a part of it. Attend Sunday Mass every week and allow them to walk with you as you receive the Eucharist.
3) Practice Receiving the Eucharist
When you've been receiving Holy Communion for years, the proper motions and responses are second nature. However, for a child who has never been through this process before, it can seem like a lot to remember. This can make the day of the first Holy Communion ceremony nervewracking which may distract your child from the real meaning behind Communion.
Practicing at home is a great way to make your child comfortable with the process before they have to do it in front of tons of people. Use something like oyster crackers or goldfish.
First, the hands must be folded in prayer. Bow the head slightly before receiving the host to show reverence. When it is time to receive the host (or, in this case, cracker), one hand should be placed on top of another to create a miniature thrown.
The priest will say, "Body of Christ," and it is important to look at the host and respectfully respond, "Amen." Use the lower hand to place the host in the mouth. Make the sign of the cross and proceed down the line to receive the wine.
4) Buy the Proper Attire
As a parent, the primary role you must focus on is purchasing the proper attire and accessories for your child. Many of the above lessons will be learned in class but only you can make sure that the dress code is fulfilled.
Some churches do provide specific guidelines for the dress code and you will want to speak with your child's first Holy Communion teacher for more information.
The dress code for girls includes a white dress that is age-appropriate and falls below the knees. White dress flats often accompany this outfit, as well as a white veil, headband, or flower crown. Dresses should be elegant but not overly decorative or distracting.
The dress code for boys includes a light or dark suit paired with a white button-down shirt. Dress shoes should be black, brown, or navy blue and ties should be made in a tasteful, solid color.
You will also want to provide your child with first communion accessories including their own rosary and Holy Communion Missal that will help them follow along in Mass. Chances are, teachers will ask you to purchase these items early in the class sessions so that your child can practice with them in the months leading up to the ceremony.
Allow Us to Help You With Your First Holy Communion Preparation
At Ideal Baby & Kids, we've helped countless families with their first Holy Communion preparation. We provide clothing and accessories that are certain to fit any church's dress code. We keep our products reasonably priced in spite of their high quality because we know that the last thing you should worry about on such a special day is money.
If you have questions about our products, delivery time, or sizing, contact us today.