The Nature of Eucharist
The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church. In a variety of ways she joyfully experiences the constant fulfillment of the promise: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20), but in the Holy Eucharist, through the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with unique intensity. Ever since Pentecost, when the Church, the People of the New Covenant, began her pilgrim journey towards her heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark the passing of her days, filling them with confident hope.
The Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life”. “For the most holy Eucharist contains the Church's entire spiritual wealth: Christ himself, our passover and living bread. Through his own flesh, now made living and life-giving by the Holy Spirit, he offers life to men”.2 Consequently the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the full manifestation of his boundless love.
From the Encyclical – Ecclesia de Eucharistia – Pope John Paul II
First Eucharist Guidelines and Information
Your child’s formal preparation for First Eucharist will be completed in the classroom. However, learning about our faith begins at home. As a parent, you are your child’s primary teacher of our Catholic faith. We are providing you with additional resources to continue your child’s learning at home. Please use the resources as they best fit your family.
Although it goes without saying that we should all attend Sunday Mass regularly, it is especially important that you help your child learn to participate in Eucharist by your example. The Catholic Church calls all the faithful to full, conscious and active participation. Please model full participation for your child by actively participating in the liturgy with mind, body and spirit (this means singing, saying the prayers and generally being engaged in our communal worship).
To assist your child in preparing for his/her First Communion we will gather for a Day of Reflection on Saturday, March 31, 2011. During this Day of Reflection, your child will create a ceramic plate for a keepsake, and you will all participate in an insightful tour of our church.
Rehearsals for First Communion are scheduled for the week of April 22. Specific dates and times are on the Calendar at the front of this folder. Just as our students are divided by classroom for this Day of Reflection, they will be divided for all of the following events. This is done to keep the size manageable.
Celebration of the Sacrament
We will celebrate First Communion on Saturday, April 28th (see calendar for specific celebration and rehearsal times for your child’s class).
A professional photographer will be in the Hospitality Room the morning/afternoon of your child’s First Communion. As part of your child’s sacramental fees, you will receive a class photo and an individual photo. You will have the option to purchase additional prints. Closer to the celebration, each child will be assigned a group. Each group will have a 15 minute window to come and have their individual photos taken. You must be present during your assigned time slot in order to have an individual photo taken.
The use of cameras and video equipment is strictly prohibited in church during the celebration. Please make sure all of your family members are aware of this prior to First Communion.
You will have the opportunity to purchase a professional video of your child’s First Communion. The video will be specific to your child’s Mass. The paperwork for this service will be distributed in the spring.
First Communion clothing guidelines:
Traditional all white communion dress. No accent colors.
Spaghetti straps are not appropriate church attire (at any time). Therefore, we ask that you either refrain from spaghetti straps or that you cover the shoulders with a shawl or sweater during Mass.
Flip flops and other casual sandals are not appropriate. Proper shoes and hosiery (tights or socks) are required.
Gloves, purses and other accessories are not permitted during the celebration.
Headpieces and veils are not required, although they are allowed. Please secure headpieces so that they do not become cumbersome for your daughter.
A dark suit (black, navy or charcoal) or a dark sports coat/suit jacket with coordinating dress slacks is to be worn. Slacks should be hemmed to the proper length.
White dress shirt. Please, no colored shirts.
Tie (no inappropriate graphics or messages).
Proper dress shoes and socks.
Seating for First Eucharist
Each family will have assigned seating for parents and siblings only. Information will be gathered at a later date to insure we provide enough seating for your family. There is no limit to the number of guests you invite. However, they will sit in the regular pews, not the reserved section. (Your child will sit with his/her class, not the parents and siblings.) The teachers will assume the difficult task of arranging this seating chart. Please respect these assignments. There will be charts on easels showing these assignments as well as cards on the respective pews.
Participation in Sunday Eucharist
The Catholic Church calls all the faithful to full, conscious and active participation. Please model full participation by actively participating in the liturgy with mind, body and spirit (this means singing, saying the prayers and generally being engaged in our communal worship).
From the Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy we have the following:
At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.
The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ's faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God's word and be nourished at the table of the Lord's body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator, they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all. SC No. 47-48
Guidelines for the Reception of Holy Communion
On November 14, 1996, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the following guidelines on the reception of Holy Communion. The guidelines seek to remind all those who may attend Catholic liturgies of the present discipline of the Church with regard to the sharing of Eucharistic Communion.
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.
For our fellow Christians
We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one" (Jn. 17:21).
Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 Section 4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 Section 3).
For those not receiving Holy Communion
All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.
We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.