Saturday, April 2, 2011

First Communion

I found a really good treatment of First Confession and First Communion over at The New Theological Movement.  

The article mostly discusses whether a 7 year old child is capable of serious sin, and consequently, whether or not First Confession is simply a sort of symbol or precursor, or a genuine necessity in the child's life. St Thomas Aquinas considered that a child of the age of reason was capable of making a decision for or against God.
In other words, the child’s first rational thought is of his identity – “Who am I?” – but if he directs himself at that moment to his Creator, he will be forgiven even of original sin. If, on the other hand, the child turns inward and makes himself his own last end, then this sin will be a grave sin of omission – for he will fail to love God
The blog also gave me some information I had been looking for on what the child should know before first approaching the sacraments.   Since Aidan is developmentally delayed, I have been having trouble deciding whether it is possible to prepare him sufficiently, and this helped make it clearer for me.

II. For first Confession and first Communion it is not necessary to have a fully complete knowledge of Christian doctrine. Afterwards, however, the child should gradually learn the whole catechism according to his mental capacity.
III. The religious knowledge required of a child for suitable preparation before first Communion is the following. He should understand, according to his ability, the mysteries of faith necessary for salvation, and be sufficiently able to distinguish the Eucharistic from ordinary corporeal bread, to approach the most holy Eucharist with such devotion as can be expected at his age.
I also found some other resources.    Sorry, this is long and should be broken up with pretty pictures but I don't have time -- I accidentally published this before I was finished.  I may add pretty pictures later.


First, here is my Catholic Studies blog where I started putting things for First Communion Prep and then got derailed.  Life!  However, though I didn't write much after last spring, we did continue sacramental prep and I still have time to start a notebook.  .... if I so desire.  I will let the Holy Spirit help me discern whether that is a priority for my kids.    There are links to more blogs there. 

Some more from online:

Here's a good one:
Pope Benedict speaks with First Communicants
 I made it into a Google Doc and posted it here.   To First Communicants
from this page which has links to a lot of documents concerned with sacramental preparation
First Communion (Church Teachings)

Some  More Blogs:

Some saint's witnesses to their first communion:

Raymond was known as a mischievous child, sometimes considered wild, and a trial to his parents. However, in 1906 at Pabianice, at age twelve and around the time of his first Communion, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary that changed his life.

"I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both". - Saint Maximilian

Here are a couple of online resources -- old-fashioned and nice.
(this site actually contains pdfs of Scripture stories illustrated with beautiful icons as well as the miracle stories).

A couple of links to resources about "readiness"

from The Catechist's Manual

Readiness for First Communion (pdf) -- a sort of document of "standards".   I found it useful to print as a sort of examen for me in this last month. 
I copied this over from a document from a church and put it in bullet points-- I don't seem to have the link anymore.

You will know your child is ready to receive First Communion if they
  • seem to have an appreciation of Jesus and his life
  • seem to have a desire to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. 
  •  know that the appearances of bread and wine under which Jesus is present are different from ordinary bread and wine. 
  • are regularly participating in Sunday Mass
  • are demonstrating an increasing familiarity with the prayers of the liturgy. 

  • They will receive a “My Mass Book” to bring to Mass to better follow the liturgy. 
  • Prior to their First Communion, please encourage them to walk in the Communion line for a blessing and to say “Amen.”
  • The students will practice receiving the unconsecrated host and wine prior to First Communion. 
  • We teach the students to give a solemn bow before the host as the person in front of them is receiving. 
Some of this is common knowledge, some of it is not essential, yet I need specifics to help me remember what I'm trying to reinforce in this last key month.   This is the first time I'm preparing my children at home.

I'm trying to focus on a Pray - Read -- Talk --- Do structure.    Not necessary all of them every day, but just as a general reminder of what is important.

I gathered a bag of books which I just have around the house and which I thought might be useful.  In another post I could share them though most of them are probably well known to most Catholics.


    1. Interesting, Willa. I had big plans for FHC prep and then changed them all. I was focusing on Pius X's directives, and realized that at this age, I didn't need to have all that memorization and nomenclature. The important focus I see is finding that relationship with Christ -- seeing God as Father, the ever-loving Father, and the Good Shepherd. Seeing the love that God gives us, and then understanding when we turn away from the love...this is why we need the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I've been doing the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the FHC formation. The emphasis on liturgy and the Bible for the formation is amazing. I was really hesitant because it was so different than what I thought would be best. I just see that all the doctrinal content doesn't need to be taught all in second grade.

    2. Hi Jenn,
      I forget what book I was reading -- but it was an ooold book -- maybe a Catechism of the Christian Brothers? Anyway, it made the point that teaching the child devotion was more important than the specifics of doctrine that could be learned later. It really surprised me because it wasn't a post-Vatican II book, and yet it was tempering the wind to the shorn lamb, so to speak. I'm glad to have heard your experience and decisions. I don't have access to CGS where I live and reading the books don't give me a clear picture but from the little I remember about reading Sofia Cavalleti's book, the "affective" part of a child is very important to get the intellect and will on board. Not that crass sentimentalism is appropriate -- just that the basic message is very simple and yet strikes deep when it is allowed to.

    3. Great post or first communion, I am expecting for samples on how to make unique first communion invitations.


    I would love to hear your thoughts on this!