SummaryAmanda Evinger, writer and homeschooling mother of three, explores six creative ways to take First Communion prep seriously and to heart with enthusiasm.
My daughter Mariam is going to recieve her First Holy Communion in a few days.
Is she ready– I mean really ready to receive the King of Kings and Lord of Lords into her soul? Am I ready for her to do this?
This morning, I read this quote from We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland:
“Unless we carefully reassemble our values, helping a child to prepare for First Holy Communion is apt to be the sum of catechism lessons learned, trips to rehearse the procession, shopping tours, dress fittings, and last-minute reminders to get film for the camera. All these things are normal and good and in the right scheme of things, humanly speaking — but they are not the heart of the matter.”
Well, Mary Reed is correct yet again. Thus, what comes next?
Perhaps, Moms and Dads, we simply need to take “the heart of the matter,” well, to heart. When we look into our children‘s eyes as they prepare to receive Him for the first time, we will likely find them fresh with enthusiasm, hope, and perhaps a little endearing nervousness.
There will be a wide open door for us to share with them what the Eucharistic love of God truly means, and that this love has their names written on it, and it was meant for them, from all eternity.
As Mary Reed further explains, we could then tell them something like this:
“Just think, dear, since before the beginning of the world God was thinking about you in Holy Communion. He always knew what day it would be, what hour, what minute. He will not divide Himself into twenty bits of Jesus, so that the twenty in First Communion class can receive Him. There is no such thing as a piece of Him. He will come to you as if there were no one there but you.”
There are many ways to help our First Communicants come to grasp the reality of His divine love. Some helpful suggestions for how to help our children realize what a gift the Holy Eucharist is, and how to receive it worthily, are:
- Help them write a letter to family members and friends expressing what receiving Holy Communion means to them.
- Take advantage of all of the wonderful faith formation tools that are out there to help children prepare for their First Holy Communion. For example, Seton Media has many great books about Saints devoted to the Eucharist as well as a “paper doll” priest that can be dressed in vestments and flashcards to help them learn the different parts to the Mass. Wee Believers makes fun Catholic toys that teach about the Mass and the Eucharist. Illuminated Ink sells beautiful crafts to help children prepare for their First Communion.
- Encourage your child to make a time of retreat by setting up an altar in his or her room with some of his favorite things that remind him or her of the Eucharist, and spend time reflecting there.
- Consider sewing your daughter’s First Communion clothes with her, or at least making a veil for her if you don’t sew. For sons, work together on something like a First Communion vest with him. Not only will it be a great bonding experience, but it will also give your communicant time to reflect on what it means to be “clothed with Christ.”
- Spend some time openly talking to them about what they are about to do, and see what thoughts and questions are roaming around in their brilliant little minds. They may have fears they desperately need to discuss. Just because they have their catechism questions memorized doesn’t mean that they fully understand what they imply.
- Go through your family library and dig up some favorite quotes from the Saints about the Eucharist. Write them on flashcards and post them around the house. They will be good reminder for Mom and Dad too!
- Importantly, as Catholic parents, we all have the story of our First Communion to share with our own children as they prepare to make their own. We all have meaningful moments of the Communions we have received throughout our lives that we can share with them.
As a convert, I know the depth of sadness, the pang of restlessness, and the creeping feeling of confusion — like having to find one’s way through a maze with a blindfold on — that accompanies a life without faith in God and the friendship of Mother Church.
I know what it is like not to have a glorious King and companion to receive strength from continually on the arduous trek of life. It’s miserable.
On the flip side, how awesome it is to have the chance to recieve one’s best friend, a divine friend, the Creator, into the deepest recesses of one’s being, so that there is full communion with Him.
I can’t wait to take some time to explain this to my daughter before Sunday morning rolls around. I can’t wait to help her take her First Communion to heart!