First Holy Communion
The mind of a child has the capacity to cut through the flotsam and jetsam of life and focus in a profound way on what is essential. Their belief in God can not only be real but that conviction can be translated into feelings of confidence and acts of kindness. Their sense of right and wrong can, when not tainted by adult excuses, be really transforming. This is a stage of their lives when the Church in it’s wisdom deems it the best time for them to be nourished by the Lord.
They do not have to know the theology of the Eucharist. They do not have to know about the mystery of transubstantiation, or details of the last supper. They do not have to know how the sacrificial practices of the Old Testament were fulfilled at Calvary.
Pius X, the great advocate of the Eucharist, in his Decree Quam Singulari (August 1910) dealt with some of the errors of a child’s spiritual development. He suggested children reach the age of reason at around the age of seven. By then they can have a consciousness of sin and are eligible to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Children should never feel confession is like going to some kind of spiritual launderette. The Eucharist should never be presented as a reward for doing good but as a real encounter with the Lord.
Unfortunately for many, their religious development ceases when they leave primary school. It’s not enough to sustain the challenges that come with adulthood, and very often parishes make assumptions that their faith is grounded in sound theology. Within the family, a child making their First Holy Communion brings to new life for the parents a sense of innocence and faith, of happiness and ambition, and above all of inner peace.
As our children prepare to make their First Holy Communion shortly, let us pray that it will be a sacred and happy time for all the family, and the parish too.