It has finally arrived on the horizon . . . the day of your child's First Holy Communion. You've probably been waiting and preparing for this moment for quite some time. You've labored to raise your little one in the Catholic faith, and now they're taking their next big step! It's pretty exciting to know that your child is soon to receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Just think . . . soon your child will not only share your DNA, they will also share with you in the Body of Christ! This will be a new kind of communion with your child that you have never experienced before.
Unfortunately, though, with all the logistics (finding the right First Communion apparel, sending out First Communion invitations, cleaning your house for the relatives, baking up a storm, etc.) it's more than easy to get lost in the hustle and completely neglect the most important thing of all—spiritually preparing your child for their special day.
It's tempting to rely on your child's religious educators to teach them the importance of receiving the Eucharist, especially when you have so much to do. However, the truth of the matter is that your child's preparation for this Sacrament begins and ends with you, the parent. You are the most influential person in your child's life, and the reverence you model for the Eucharist is the reverence they will learn to imitate. Here are a few easy tips on how to keep yourself and your child focused on the real meaning of this amazing Sacrament.
First: Find Those Mini Catechesis Moments
- An easy way to reverence the Eucharist is simply to talk to your child about why you go to Mass. For example, on a day that you attend Mass, tell your child that you are going to be with Jesus in a special way and to receive Him into your body. If you attend weekday masses, tell your child that you go to Mass more often so that you can receive Jesus more often. Get them excited about it!
- When you begin your hour-long fast before Mass, announce to your child what you are doing and invite them to fast for this hour with you. Explain to them why you are fasting, that you are preparing yourself spiritually and physically to receive Jesus into your body.
- Draw your child more deeply into Eucharistic reverence by praying with them before and after you receive Holy Communion. The Anima Christi is a beautiful and simple Eucharistic prayer that you and your child can practice memorizing together, and it's usually found in the Missal. Just arrive to Mass a few minutes early and pray this prayer together. Saying a special prayer in this way will teach your child to reverence the holy moment of receiving Communion.
- As you leave the pews when Mass ends, instead of genuflecting in the aisle, walk with your child up to the tabernacle and genuflect with them there. This will teach to your child that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, and His resting place until the next Mass is in the tabernacle.
Note: If you need help finding the right words for these little moments, try using a Children's Catechism until you get the hang of it. The idea is to continually reinforce to your child, in your own words, that it is Jesus' real presence in the Eucharist that draws your family to Mass.
Second: Take Your Child to Eucharistic Adoration
Pope John Paul II and the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI have recommended children's Eucharistic adoration as a great way to prepare your children spiritually for their First Communion. Don't be concerned that your child won't understand what Eucharistic adoration is (you don't even have to use those words), or that they won't be able to sit quietly. Just tell your child that you are going to spend a few minutes sitting and talking with Jesus, and invite them to talk to Jesus too.
Note: Remember that children are easy believers, and spiritual realities are not often difficult for them to grasp when plainly explained. You may find that your child not only grasps the concept of Jesus' real presence in the Eucharist, but that they actually respond positively to the adoration experience.
Third: Reinforce with Literature
Your child may not understand the Mass very well, but that doesn't mean that they can't participate in their own way and on their own level with what is happening. There are great children's Mass books and other Catholic children's books that explain Holy Communion. These books will help to reinforce your teaching about the specialness of Jesus in the Eucharist. If you bring books for your child to look at during Mass, make sure it's a children's missal or other Catholic children's catechesis books. Let Mass be a holy hour for your child just as it is for you.
With these simple tips you can begin preparing your child now for their special day with Jesus, when they receive Him for the first time in the sacrament of Holy Communion. If you have found any other helpful ways to prepare your child spiritually for First Holy Communion, please share your comments with our readers below.
Copyright 2012 Kathleen Wellman
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