Sacrament of Eucharist: Confession, First Communion
ST. THOMAS MORE CHURCH
FIRST COMMUNION PROTOCOL
The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the second sacrament of initiation in the Catholic Church, and it is the one sacrament of initiation that we can receive more than once. In this sacrament, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ under the forms of bread and wine. Through this sacrament, God gives us His grace, and forms us more closely into the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. In the diocese of St. Catharines, children are invited to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist for the first time in Grade 2. Registration for First Holy Communion typically takes place in tandem with registration for First Reconciliation. First Holy Communion for these children takes place during the Easter season. The role of the parents in the preparation process is essential to support and nurture the faith of their child; during this time as well the parents will be informed of the details of their child’s preparation, and invited to formation meetings for parents.
For adults or those attending public schools who wish to receive the Eucharist, preparation is done in the parish, either through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or by a parish catechist. You may arrange this by contacting the parish office.
Parishioners are invited to receive the Precious Blood from the Eucharistic Minister. Why drink from the Cup? Receiving the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist from the cup is not a requirement, but receiving the Blood of Christ is a fuller sign of the mystery we celebrate. The question continues to be asked, reflecting an uneasiness for some lay people about resuming a practice unknown in the Roman Catholic Church for more than 600 years. In the Church’s first thousand years, Communion under a single species occurred only as a pastoral exception for infants, the sick, and the dying. The gradual reserving of the cup to ordained clergy, early in the second millennium, was to safeguard against spills and counteract the erroneous view that the laity needed both species to receive the whole Christ. Today’s restored opportunity to receive the sacramental Blood as well as Body of Christ lets us equally honour two invitations: “Eat My Body, Drink My Blood.” Receiving from the Chalice is a heightened liturgical experience of sacrifice, covenant, unity, and sacred banquet. In the Gospels, drinking from the cup is a sign of courageous discipleship. “Can you drink the cup that I will drink?” Jesus challenges. In the Garden of Gethsemane the same image expresses the ordeal awaiting Jesus. Not surprisingly, then, Communion from the cup implied for the early Christians an openness to martyrdom, a willingness to lay down one’s life.
Children, even those enrolled in Catholic schools, must register with the parish to receive these sacraments.
Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from the power of sin, and sins consequences, death. The purpose of his ministry was our reconciliation with the Father. In a special way, his death on the cross brought about the possibility of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. On the evening of his resurrection from the dead, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and gave them the power to forgive all human sin. Breathing upon them, He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.” Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, bishops and priests of the Church receive the power from Christ himself to forgive sins. It is exercised in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as the Sacrament of Penance or simply “confession.” Through this sacrament, Christ forgives the sins that members of his Church commit after baptism. Sometimes people ask: Why confess my sins to a priest? Why not confess them directly to God? The simple answer is that, as human beings, we do not live in our minds alone, we need to externalize bodily – with words, signs and gestures – what is in our minds and hearts. We need to see, hear and feel forgiveness – not just think about it. We need other people to help us externalize what is within and open our hearts before the Lord, which the priest does in the sacrament of reconciliation. He is there as a guide in our discernment, compassionately helping us experience and proclaim the mercy of God in our lives.