The term “Eucharist” comes from the Greek “eucharistia” meaning thanksgiving. The Eucharist is also called communion because it brings us into union with God and each other. It is, therefore, the third and final Sacrament of Initiation. Unlike Baptism and Confirmation which are once only Sacraments, we continue to receive the Eucharist, throughout our lives, to nourish and sustain us.
The Eucharist is centred around a commemoration of the Last Supper and makes present for us here and now, the once and for all sacrifice of Calvary. The priest takes bread and wine and speaks the words of consecration over them so that they become the Body and Blood of Christ. When we eat the Body and Blood of Christ we are unified with him and everyone in his Church. We are able to share in Christ’s divine life.
Only a priest or bishop can celebrate mass and consecrate the bread and wine. Communion is often distributed during mass, and to the sick, by lay people called Ministers of Holy Communion.
Preparation for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion occurs with children aged 7 (school year 3) and above. Registration begins during the previous summer with a closing date in early September. One form registers the child for both programmes. We have catechists in all three churches so that the children are prepared and celebrate in the church in which they are familiar. The sessions for the parents are single events covering the entire parish in one meeting. Parents are required to attend these sessions, because the life of faith at home is essential to the preparation of the child.
The Reconciliation programme takes place in the autumn term and concludes with services of Reconciliation in Advent and again in Lent. The First Holy Communion preparation starts in January and lasts through to the First Communion Masses in June. The Reconciliation programme takes place in the autumn term and concludes with services of Reconciliation in Advent and again in Lent. The First Holy Communion preparation starts in January and lasts through to the First Communion Masses in June.
What parents can do
In Liturgy the Divine action is communicated to us through human gestures, words and symbols. The first task of parents in helping their children to understand the basis, liturgical gestures and concepts of the Mass, is to teach their children the meaning of ordinary gestures and signs which people use among themselves. Through experiencing the meaning of welcoming, exchanging greetings forgiving and accepting forgiveness, listening, thanking and sharing as well as taking part in special family meals and celebrations, children can be trained for worship. Above all parents need to give their children the experience of daily prayer and the opportunity to take part in the Mass with the family
Parents can help their child to participate by:-
• Arriving at the church in good time and sitting where your child can see the altar
• Dipping your hand in holy water and signing yourself on arrival, in memory of your baptism
• Genuflecting (or making a solemn bow) towards the tabernacle on arrival and departure
• Saying “sorry” to each other during the Penitential Rite if you have need to do so
• Signing your forehead lips and heart in unison with the priest or deacon before the proclamation of the gospel
• Talking about the message of one of the readings (preferably the Gospel) after Mass and considering how the family might try to live that message during the coming week
• Using simple intercessions (like in the Prayer of the Faithful) as part of night prayers at home
• Encouraging your child to give a small offering to any collection for those in need, such as for CAFOD
• Helping your child to follow the hymns and chants and join in the responses
• Encouraging your child to stand, sit and knell at the appropriate time
• Letting your child recognise,’ through your gestures and reverence, what you believe
• Reminding you child during the Eucharistic Prayer of the moments when the priest prays over the bread and wine (like Jesus did at the Last Supper) and also when he prays for the living, and later for those who have died
• Encouraging your child to give the sign of peace – actually looking at the person they are sharing the peace with – and especially among the family is there has been any tension or difficulty
• Taking your child up to receive a blessing at Communion time (as well as receiving a blessing yourself, if you are not receiving Communion) + Amen
• Engaging in moments of personal prayer, after Communion especially, and encouraging your child to do the same
• Among your own children set a pattern of age-appropriate behaviour
• Try to show that being with the community at Mass is important to you
• Taking home a Newsletter and sharing any relevant news with your child
Adults who are Baptised, or received into the Church, receive their First Eucharist immediately. See RCIA Programme for adults.
The way to ‘greatness’ in the real sense of that word is found through the taking up of the Cross, in service of others and in a real openness to the simplicity that is found in child-like trust.
Bishop Richard Moth