Receiving the Holy Eucharist for the first time is an important rite of passage for Catholic children. After all, the Eucharist is the most important part of every Catholic Mass, serving as the moment in which Jesus Christ presents himself to his followers.
The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper when He broke bread with His 12 apostles before offering Himself on the Cross. When we celebrate Communion at Mass, Christ makes present again, through the priest, His one sacrifice on the cross in an unbloody manner.
Of course, this profound moment also marks further initiation into the Church and brings a child closer to salvation through Jesus Christ. Here’s everything you need to know to help your child prepare for their First Communion.
What First Communion Is and Why It’s Important in the Catholic Church
First Communion is a special ceremony for children receiving the Holy Eucharist for the first time. It’s also a time to celebrate your faith with friends and family. Read on for answers to your most frequently asked First Communion questions.
1. What Does First Communion Mean in the Catholic Church?
During the Sacrament of First Communion, young Catholics are welcomed to the altar of the Lord by receiving His body and blood (under the appearance of bread and wine) for the first time. First Communion is also a time for families to come together and celebrate their faith and their divine communion with God. Parties and family gatherings typically take place after the First Communion Mass.
2. Why Do Catholics Have First Communion?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life." (1324) In addition, in John 6:53, Jesus said that "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you."
Taking First Communion in the Catholic Church
During Catholic Mass, parishioners receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ, drawing them closer to Jesus in a spiritual and physical way. Before First Communion, children do not take part in the Eucharist. Instead, children receive a special blessing from the priest during this part of Mass.
3. How Old Are You When You Take Your First Communion?
First Communion is the second sacrament of initiation in the Catholic Church. It takes place after Baptism, usually around the age of seven or eight, or during first or second grade. If you convert to Catholicism in adulthood, your First Communion will take place at the same time as your Baptism and Confirmation in the Catholic Church.
4. How Long Does it Take to Get Your First Communion?
First Communion can only happen once you’ve been baptized in the Catholic Church. First Communion classes are part of a series of religion classes taken during the primary school years. They typically take place weekly during the academic year, from September to May, and end with a First Communion ceremony in the spring, during Catholic Mass.
5. What Is Taught in First Communion Classes?
First Communion classes teach children how to get closer to God through the Catholic faith. There isn’t a set curriculum, but students can expect to learn about Jesus, the Catholic Mass, and the importance of receiving the Holy Eucharist. The focus isn’t entirely on First Communion, rather, classes focus on the importance of deepening one’s faith in God.
Preparing for the First Communion Ceremony
Communion can only take place when a person is free from mortal sin. So, in preparation for their First Communion, children also receive the Sacrament of Penance (confession) about a week prior to their First Communion. If you’re wondering what to expect at the First Communion ceremony, keep reading.
6. What Happens at a First Communion?
The First Communion ceremony takes place during Catholic Mass, which can last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. The priest blesses those about to receive their First Communion and then begins the Eucharist ceremony, during which children receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ for the first time, accompanied by their godparents and other family members.
7. Do You Need Sponsors for First Communion?
No, you do not need sponsors for First Communion. Instead, a child’s godparents are invited to First Communion ceremonies and asked to take a special part in the day with their godchild.
8. Do You Need Godparents for First Communion?
You don’t need godparents for First Communion, but it’s common for them to attend the Mass and post-Mass celebration. In the Catholic Church, godparents are assigned at a child’s Baptism and vow to guide that child on their spiritual path. For this reason, godparents usually help prepare a child for their First Communion.
9. Where Can You Buy First Communion Dresses for Girls?
The Catholic Church teaches that during your First Holy Communion, you become the bride of Christ. That’s why girls wear white dresses and boys wear suits. It’s important to find a dress your daughter feels comfortable in and is excited to wear, to help garner excitement for the First Communion ceremony. Get started by shopping our selection of first communion dresses and apparel.
10. Where Can You Buy First Communion Suits for Boys?
For a young boy, a black or navy blue suit, dress shoes, and tie are appropriate attire for First Communion. You can find suits online, at department stores, formal wear stores, and even wedding shops. Add a Holy Eucharist tie or cross tie clip to make his day even more special.
A Seat at the Lord’s Table
First Communion is one of the most important sacraments Catholics receive, as the Holy Eucharist is such a central piece of the Catholic faith. After being baptized in the Catholic Church and upon reaching the age of 7 or 8, children are invited to join in communion with Jesus Christ and gain a seat at his table through the consumption of the Holy Eucharist.
Find the Perfect First Communion Gift
Looking for a first communion gift for the young girl or boy in your life? Check out our helpful gift guides.