First Communion — What You Need to Do Now to Prepare
Editor’s note: Today, we welcome a guest contribution from Janet Quinlan, the founder of Embroidered Heirlooms. I would like to personally thank Janet for her generous support of CatholicMom.com and for creating beautiful resources for Catholic families. Please be sure to visit EmbroideredHeirlooms.com as you anticipate and prepare for your children’s sacramental moments. LMH
If you are a mom of a second grader, this is a big year for you. If you’re a mom of a second grade girl, even bigger! Invitations, party planning, cake, shoes, dress, veils, suits -the First Communion celebration is a big event!
The exterior details are important. Planning a beautiful party, finding the perfect outfit tells our children that this day is special. We wouldn’t receive an important person or dignitary wearing old jeans and a t-shirt, nor would we entertain special friends without attention to the details of the home and menu.
But although these exterior details are important and will need attention as the First Communion day approaches, there is an even more important detail that we should attend to that tells our children their First Communion day is important – our own attitude and understanding of the Eucharist.
Before we had our seven children, I taught second grade, and helped prepare the children to receive Our Lord. Although I could explain the meaning and mechanics of the Eucharist, I found that more important than understanding (few second graders can really understand the mystery) the children needed to fall in love with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Their teachers can help with this, but truly our young children look to us, their parents, to see what we value, what we love, and what we cherish before they will love, value and cherish. So many of us learned about the Eucharist in second grade and then not much more since then. Catholicism requires continuing education – discovering the mystery of the Eucharist as an adult. If we rely on what we learned 20-30 years ago (when we had the intellect of a child) we would not only be doing ourselves a grave disservice, we would also be letting our children down. WE are their first teachers in both understanding and love. We can’t teach what we don’t know, and we can’t love what we don’t know.
How to prepare your child for First Communion? Prepare yourself. Read some excellent books (listed at the end here). Spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. If you have doubts or questions regarding the Real Presence, ask the Holy Spirit for faith and understanding. Receive Communion during the week, preparing well for reception – making sure we have gone to regular confession, observing the hour fast. And on Sundays, wear your “Church clothes”! In our family, Sunday mass means nice, pressed, clean clothes and “Church shoes”. We frequently have a baked treat or special brunch afterwards which tells the family Sunday is special.
And every night, say with your child a traditional Spiritual Communion:
I wish my Lord to receive You
With the purity, humility, and devotion
With which your most Holy Mother received You
With the spirit and fervor of the Saints
A few books on the Eucharist: The Catechism, The Faith Explained by Leo Trese The Lambs Supper by Scott Hahn, The Blessed Sacrament by Frederick William Faber, The Cure of Ars and the Holy Eucharist
Copyright 2012 Janet Quinlan