The Eucharist/First Holy Communion

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification” (CCC 1360).

Catholics actively participate in the Eucharist as the source and summit of their Christian life. This active participation manifests itself by:

  • gathering with a community of believers each Sunday and holy day
  • praying together at Mass in word, gesture and song
  • listening together to God’s word
  • giving thanks and praise to God together for the gifts of creation, and in a special way, for the gift of Jesus Christ – his life, death and resurrection, and
  • sharing in and becoming the Body of Christ through reception of Holy Eucharist at Mass.

Catholics believe that through active participation in the Mass and in a special way, through the reception of Holy Communion at Mass, they are filled with the real presence of Christ, and are therefore sent to be Christ’s presence in the world until he comes again in glory. St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, put it this way in the 5th century:

What you see is bread and a cup. This is what your eyes report to you. But your faith has need to be taught that the bread is the body of Christ, the cup the blood of Christ If then, you wish to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle as he says to the faithful, ‘You are the body of Christ and His members’. You reply ‘Amen’ to that which you are, and by replying you consent to be a member of the body of Christ so that your ‘Amen’ may be true. Be what you see, and receive what you are.

Centuries later St Thomas Aquinas gave us an explanation of how this mystery happens. He called it transubstantiation. By that he meant that the “accidents” (the visible reality) of bread and wine remain, but the “substance” is changed into Christ’s Body and Blood. This has also come to be understood as what Catholics mean by the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.

First Holy Communion

Preparing to receive Reconciliation and the Eucharist for the first time can be one of the most memorable experiences parents share with their children. Beforehand it is important that the family attend Mass each Sunday so that the child understands more fully what the Eucharist is about.

Parents of children who are in Year 3 or above are invited to attend a meeting, usually in the Autumn, in order to register on the programme and to be given an overview of the course. Parents play a major part in the preparation, which starts in January, and are guided through it with the help of parents’ meetings, guide books and children’s workbooks. The parish prays for these children throughout their sacramental preparation.

Preparation for the reception of Holy Eucharist takes in conjunction with the First Reconciliation Programme and is open to all children in Year 3 or above in Primary school. Full attendance at Sunday Mass is required. The Celebration of First Communion is usually held on Sundays following Easter/Pentecost.

If you would like more information about First Holy Communion please contact berkhamsted@rcdow.org.uk.

Log in to register your child for First Holy Communion

Please note that login information will be supplied at the initial First Holy Communion meeting. If you did not attend the meeting, please contact us for further information.

Registrations for the 2020 First Holy Communion Programme must be received no later than Friday 6th December 2019.

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