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First Communion Articles

Is your daughter going to have her First Holy Communion soon? Here are some helpful articles about First Communion that will help you and your daughter prepare for this momentous occasion.


First Communion Articles in this page:

What is First Communion

The Roman Catholic Church, there are three major sacraments that children undergo. The first is baptism, which is typically performed when the child is a baby, although some wait until the child is three or four years old. The second is the first communion, in which the children are given the proper instruction preparing them to accept the Eucharist, which represents Christís Body and Blood for the first time. Usually, the child prepares for this at the age of eight. The third is confirmation, in which the child reaffirms the Catholic beliefs and denounces evil. This is usually undertaken when the child attains the age of 18, although some churches decreed it at the age of 12. Confirmation can occur at anytime that a Catholic believes he or she can become a full member of the Catholic Church, and no Catholic can have a Church wedding if either the bride or groom has not been confirmed.

In terms of ceremony, however, the first Communion or the Sacrament of the Eucharist is given more attention than the Confirmation. During first communion, the child undergoes extensive preparation either at the school (if the child attends a Catholic school) or at the Church. The children are provided with the steps with which they need to be familiar with in order to be given the Sacrament, which includes the first confession.

Aside from religious preparedness, the child is expected to comply with a traditional dress code for the actual giving of the first communion. The first communion dress is white usually an empress-style short dress tied with a white ribbon and puffed sleeves. The child wears a halo of white flowers which may or may not come with a short veil that is kept away from the face. White school shoes (not heels) with white socks are preferred. A white candle tied with white or pale blue ribbon is carried by the child as she marches down the aisle.

While the above description of first communion dress is typical, more elaborate dresses can be used. However, because the sacrament celebrates purity of Christian thought and mind, it would be more tasteful to choose simpler, more classical designs.

How to Know if Your Daughter is ready for First Communion?

First Communion is a defining moment in your childís life. Catholic parents all over the world consider it a joyous experience. On that life-changing event, you want your child to be ready, inside and out. This is why knowing that your daughter is ready for her First Communion is truly important.

How do you know if your daughter is ready for First Communion? If youíre not certain whether your child is ready for First communion, feel free to visit the priest in your local parish. However, donít be surprised if he tells you that the best person to decide if your child is ready for First Communion is -- you!

The truth is, whether your child is ready to receive the First Communion is really your decision. The Parish priest can not make this decision for you.

Some common signs that your daughter is ready for her First Communion:

o She starts getting interested about stories from the Bible. She asks you to read her stories from the Bible, or reads the Bible stories herself. She loves to hear about Godís love and shows excitement every time you talk about Jesus and His message of salvation.

o She has a growing curiosity about the Trinity.

o She begins to express her love for Jesus through prayer. You see her pray before she eats and goes to bed.

o She actively participates in Sunday Mass.

o She keeps her appointment with God.

o She becomes aware of Godís presence in her life. She knows that God protects her from all evils and guides her everyday.

The Church administers First Communion to children between the ages of 7 and 8. But in order for a child to make her First Communion, she must first have arrived at the age of discretion. Second, she must have successfully met all the Church's requirements. The age of discretion, as viewed by theologians, refers to the age a child becomes capable of moral responsibility. When the child understands right from wrong and understands that actions have consequences, then the child is said to be ready to approach the Holy Table and receive the Eucharist.

According to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on Communion of Children:"In the best-supported view of theologians this phrase means, not the attainment of a definite number of years, but rather the arrival at a certain stage in mental development, when children become able to discern the Eucharistic from ordinary bread, to realize in some measure the dignity and excellence of the Sacrament of the Altar, to believe in the Real Presence, and adore Christ under the sacramental veils."

So if your child can tell the difference between the Eucharist and regular bread, and understands the significance of the Eucharist and its celebration then she is ready for First Communion.

How to Prepare Your Daughter for First Communion

Second-graders are just as excited as their parents when it comes to First Communion preparations. Schools coordinate with the parents and the local Parish, making sure First Communion goes smoothly for all candidates. Parents likewise think of ways to make the truly an unforgettable occasion for their children.

One of the first things parents must do is to help their child learn what they need to know about First Communion. Your child canít afford to be clueless when it comes to religious beliefs and practices. It is important for parents to brief their child about First Communion practices. It is also important for parents to learn about the First Communion requirements of their local Parish and to coordinate with their childís school.

Church Requirements

In order for a child to receive communion, the Church requires that he or she should first know who God is, why Jesus died on the cross, and how Godís grace works among other things. This is where the priest comes in. One of his duties is to prepare Godís children for communion and to teach them to receive it devoutly.

The Church also requires that the child be without sin and in the state of grace; hence your child must make First Confession, also known as the Sacrament of Penance. Since the Catholic Church advocates First Confession to precede First Communion, your child should know what takes place in a confession. Sharing your First Communion experience with your daughter will prove helpful.

The state of grace is when the child is closer to God. This only happens when the childís heart is right with God. State of Grace is a state of sanctification by God. Your daughter must be aware of what sin is and what its penalty is. She needs to know that anyone who comes to the Lord and wholeheartedly asks for forgiveness for his or her sin will be forgiven. First Confession will help her to get right with God.

Remember that it is not solely the priestís responsibility to teach your child the basic doctrines of the church. As a parent also you need to prepare your daughter for this event, from choosing her First Communion dress all the way to helping her memorize those prayers. Encourage her to have a genuine relationship with God and to nurture that relationship. Teaching your child the importance of First Communion will certainly help her appreciate this exercise of faith.

History of First Communion

First Communion is regarded as one of the most important occasions in a Roman Catholic childís life. Catholic families believe in the sacredness of First Communion and what it stands for.

The Sacrament of Eucharist, also called the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion, is the second of the seven sacraments. The earliest Biblical account of the Eucharist is found in 1 Cor. 11:23-26. Instituted by Christ at the Last Supper, the Holy Communion has since been commemorated by many churches, the Roman Catholic Church being the biggest Christian denomination to observe this.

The Roman Catholic Church also follows the example Jesus Christ set which shows how much children mean to Him, saying that the kingdom of God should be welcomed like a little child welcomes it. ďNow they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ďLet the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.Ē Luke 18:15-17 (cf. Mark 10:13-15; Matthew 19:13-14)

Since the beginning, in its efforts to bring children to Jesus, the Roman Catholic Church has allowed children and infants to take part in the sacred repast. In some churches it was traditional to give children the small bits left from the adult communion.The Church has administered Eucharistic Communion children and even to nursing infants. This religious custom was done also at Baptism as prescribed in ancient ritual books in the thirteenth century. Later on this practice was discontinued in the Latin Church. Although the practice of giving Holy Communion to very young children was changed, the Catholic Church never condemned this.

On August 15, 1910, a decree re-establishing an ancient Church law on First Communion (Quam Singulari) was made official by Pope Pius X. He encouraged the admission of children to reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist by lowering the age for First Communion to seven years. The Pope wanted the children who were between the ages of seven and eight to take part in the Eucharistic service soon after they reach the ''age of discretion''. The Catholic Church defines ďthe age of discretionĒ as the age in which the child begins to reason.

Today, while there are many Christian churches that allow children who have been baptized to participate in the Holy Communion, the Catholic Church advocates First Confession to precede First Communion. Aside from making the First Confession, the child should also be in the state of ďgraceĒ, and as part of the requirements of the Church. Taking part in First Communion is a milestone in child has arrived at the age of discretion and has successfully met all the Church's requirements.

How to Prepare a First Communion Party for Your Daughter

Your daughterís First Communion is a very special event. Seeing her so lovely in her white communion dress and knowing that she is ready to take part in the Eucharistic celebration can make any parent want to throw a First Communion party! As a proud parent itís only natural to want to celebrate your daughterís First Communion. In fact, many moms and dads prepare weeks or even months ahead for their daughterís First Communion party. Making the party enjoyable and memorable for your daughter and everyone else might seem like a difficult task, but planning and visualizing the event can help make this special party a success. Follow this checklist to help you get started:

Theme

Select an appropriate theme for the party. The theme can be related to First Communion or Easter. You can also go for non-religious themes like Princess theme or Alice in Wonderland theme where your daughter and her friends can simply wear their favorite girls Easter dresses . It's also important to involve your daughter in the planning. Asking her how she how feels about a particular theme will help you to better organize the party.

Activities

Whatís a party without games or fun activities? Who said that daughters in their first communion dresses canít have fun at communion parties? While your daughter looks picture perfect in her beautiful dress, donít forget that she still is just a little girl who wants to have fun at her own Communion party. Itís better to Plan activities both kids and adults will enjoy at the party. Face painting, dancing, playing some fun family games like Pin the Tail and Bible trivia games, even hiring either a clown or a magician to do a magic show can almost certainly provide hours of entertainment.

Invitations

A First Communion party is another wonderful opportunity to bring family and friends together. Think of inviting special people to attend your daughterís First Communion party as this is also a great time to fellowship with them. Once youíve put together a guest list, find time to call them in advance so they can be properly informed about the when and the where of the party. Instead of buying expensive cards, send simple DIY invitations.

Food

Itís wise to confirm your guestsí attendance. Have a final head count for visitors a day before the occasion. Cook or bake any food that you can prepare ahead of time. Serve deliciously healthy food that kids love. Get extra party supplies, so you wonít have to leave the party just in case you run out of stuff. To make the table look even more presentable, use a basket of beautiful flowers or fruits as a centerpiece.

Venue

Picking a place depends on the budget and space you need. Consider how many people are coming and what activities are included. Gardens, spacious yards, local parks, and even church meeting halls are great party venues that cost little or zero. If you think cleaning up or preparing the food is too big a task to handle, you can always make a reservation at your favorite restaurant. Most restaurants offer party packages that include entertainment and free use of their banquet halls. Donít forget to prepare a mix of lively Christian songs for the party. You can also use scented candles, white balloons and ribbons to decorate place.

The Effects of Holy Communion

First Communion is the receiving of the Holy Eucharist which represents the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is a very sacred occasion that is most anticipated by the parents of the Communicants. Catholic parents would make sure that their child would be well-prepared once their First Communion takes place. They prepare everything from the First Communion dresses to the party celebration right after the event. The most typical communion dresses are white lace satin for the girls and black pants with white long sleeves for the boys. In most instances, the girls are required to wear veil and white gloves. As white symbolizes purity of the heart; so does the hearts of the first Communicants. In order to prepare their hearts and consciences; they need to go through their first confession as well to prepare themselves before they receive the symbol of Jesus Christís body.

There are many effects of Holy Communion in oneís spiritual life. Many of the Catholics believe that the Holy Communion can strengthen ones resistance to temptation. It is emphasizes the Catholicís ability of their freewill to withstand the temptation presented by the devil in so many ways.

Another effect of Holy Communion is it is believed by most Catholics that communion can cure spiritual diseases. Thus it makes the person receiving the communion a new person whenever he or she partakes in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It clears away the venial sins and the temporal punishments that are due of the venial sins committed.

Last but definitely not the least, it gives spiritual joy to the Catholics. In the Holy Bible it is stated that the Holy Communion is the promise of eternal glory of the body and resurrect it from its spiritual death or diseases. It strengthens the faith of the children to the word of Jesus Christ and his promise of eternal bliss.

Shop For A First Communion Dress Without A Hitch

It's always a good idea to shop for your child's First Communion Dress way ahead of time to avoid frustration, tantrums brought by uncomfortable dress, and anxiety.
These helpful tips might help you:

Check with your parish's First Communion dress requirements and suggestions. Be in the know what your parish allows re: cut of the First Communion dress, length of the First Communion dress, etc. and also know what the usual First Communion dresses were worn in the past.

As I've said, shop early. The usual ideal months would be later part of December to entire month of January. Leave a lot of time for your order to be delivered as well. When shopping for the dress, tag your child along and ask for her opinion about it. Make sure you both approve of the cut and design. For age-appropriate First Communion dresses check out EliteDresses' collection (click here).

Let the child wear the First Communion dress and make necessary adjustments on the First Communion dress once you receive it.

Some parents want their child photographed with their First Communion dress, I suggest to do it prior to the First Communion day itself right after the alterations were made on the dress.

Lastly, sit and discuss with your child what First Communion is about. Ask her what she expects and what she does not. Ask and answer what she understands about First Communion and what she does not.


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