The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist for Children
The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and are configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist (Catechism of Catholic Church 1322).
The Eucharist is a memorial of Christ’s Passover, but not in the sense of a mere recollection of what happened long ago, but rather in a sense that it is both present and real for the people of God today. This memorial is a living sacrifice of the Church, united with the offering and intercession of Christ, not only for the benefit of those people on earth, but also for all of the faithful departed, “who have died in Christ” (CCC1362-1371).
The Effects of Holy Eucharist
The principal effect of the Eucharist is a more intimate union with Jesus. In the words of the gospel, the believers who “eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them” (John 6:56). Catholics believe that this intimate union is necessary for the spiritual journey and for growth in the Christian life and that the nourishment of the Eucharist is the “spiritual food” that preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace within those who receive it (CCC 1392).
History of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist
The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word meaning, “to give thanks.” In the early Church it designated not only the bread and wine, but also the ritual, which surrounded their use. The history of the Eucharist is not just the history of sacramental objects, but also the history of a sacramental action. Jesus used the Passover supper and its ritual, which celebrated what God had done, could do, and would do, to institute the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The actions and works of Jesus at the Last Supper were the simple beginnings of the Eucharistic liturgy. The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the cross. Each time we celebrate, we enter into Jesus’ experience of earth and its meaning for him and for us.
The Celebration of Holy Eucharist at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church
1. A child must be baptized according to the Rite of the Roman Catholic and attend Mass each week with at least one parent or guardian.
2. Preparation for reception of Holy Communion is a two year program beginning in the first grade of school. Children who do not receive the sacrament in the second grade or are older than seven years old will be prepared for celebrating the sacrament through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
3. All children who are to receive the sacrament must be enrolled and regularly attend Faith Formation classes and participate in all communal dimensions (ritual, prayer services, etc.) and other requirements determined by the pastor or Faith Formation Director.
4. First Holy Communion is celebrated after the reception of the sacrament of Penance. A child must be at least seven years of age and is able to demonstrate an understanding of the difference between consecrated bread and wine (the Body of Christ) and ordinary bread and wine.
5. Adults who desire to receive Holy Eucharist will be enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and receive this sacrament during Holy Week.