Is your child or young family member getting prepared for their first holy communion? Are you unsure of what to expect on this momentous occasion in their life? If so, you’re in the right place. This detailed guide will provide you with everything you need to know about the first holy communion in a person’s life and what your role will be.
Understanding the First Holy Communion
The Communion, or the Eucharist, is the ritual of eating bread and drinking wine during Church services. The bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ, and communion is meant to be a reenactment of the Last Supper. In most Christian traditions, the Eucharist is a sacrament, though it is an ordinance in some. The First Holy Communion is a tradition practised in some churches to mark the first time a child receives the Eucharist. Depending on the Christian tradition in question, the age at which a child will take their first communion differs. However, the First Holy Communion will generally take place between ages 7 and 13. In some churches, it specifically takes place after a child is confirmed in the church. In some churches, especially the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, the First Holy Communion is celebrated in a child’s infancy, as the child is typically confirmed immediately after baptism.
Celebrating the First Holy Communion
In traditions where a child is old enough to remember their first communion, this ceremony is typically considered to be a time of celebration. Friends, family members, and loved ones are invited to celebrate with the child, sometimes including those who are not otherwise part of church life. The communion is often followed by a party to commemorate this momentous occasion in the child’s life. Like other parties, the goal for guests is to celebrate with the child and make their day unforgettable, which usually includes bringing small gifts to mark the occasion. These gifts can be thematic – religious gifts that acknowledge the child’s introduction into the church life – or more secular, based on the child’s likes. Which gift you choose will depend on your relationship with the child and how well you know them and their parents.
The first communion service will usually range in length from about an hour to an hour and a half. It usually celebrates all the church children who are receiving their first communion on that day, not just one child. After the service, the Eucharist is first offered to the children and then the adults present in the church. Remember, communion is meant only for Catholics, so if you are not Catholic, you should stay seated at this point. The family may also choose to light the baptismal candle held during the child’s baptism. After the service is completed, invitees will proceed to the party arranged for the child discussed above.
Remember that while the First Holy Communion is a special occasion, it is still a church service. You will need to dress modestly, though you can dress a little more formally than you normally would to church. Many parents hire a photographer to document this important event in their child’s life, and ensuring you are dressed formally means that you can be confident you’ll look your best in the photos. However, if you’re unsure how to formally dress, don’t hesitate to ask the hosts.
The First Holy Communion is an important event for a child, and your invitation represents your important place in their life. Acknowledge that honour by being ready to celebrate with the child and the other friends and family present at the event.