As Catholics, we know that the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith: it is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has called it the "Sacrament of Love":
"The Eucharist is at the heart of 'Christian initiation', together with Baptism and Confirmation, and it constitutes the source of the Church’s life itself. From this Sacrament of love, in fact, flows every authentic journey of faith, of communion, and of witness."
For children who are preparing to receive their First Holy Communion, this is a big deal. And for all of us, no matter how many times we have received Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, it should always be a big deal.
What makes it so special the first time is the same thing that makes it special every time!
This is why the first time a family member makes their Holy Communion, it is an exciting event for the whole family. The boy or girl preparing for this sacrament is going to be profoundly united with Jesus in a way that they never have before!
It is such a holy, joyful occasion. Our souls become the bride of Christ. That is why girls wear white dresses and boys wear suits. Relatives are invited. Parents take pictures. We celebrate. And the very act of celebrating reveals our belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Father Roger Landry of the Diocese of Fall River in New England says,
"...what makes one's first Communion a truly blessed event is not the adjective but the substantive: not the 'first' but the 'communion.' Because of whom we receive, the second, third, next, and last Communion should always be as special."
Unfortunately, for many of us Catholics, First Holy Communion has become simply a right of passage. The essence of the celebration is lost among the parties and gifts. "Parties and gifts are fine," says one priest, "as long as the focus never strays from what the celebration is truly about."
First Holy Communion is, without question, a time of great joy. The saints in heaven, who are delighted to intercede for us, are celebrating along with your family.
"You come to me," says Saint Maximilian Kolbe to Jesus, speaking for all of us, "and unite Yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. . . . What miracles! Who would have ever imagined such!"
St. Mother Teresa also has words for you and your family: "Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist..."
Yes, the celebration of a child's First Holy Communion IS a big deal. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
Is your son or daughter about to receive Jesus for the first time?
What tips do you have for other parents who are doing their best to prepare their child for this special day?
Share with us in the comments below! We want to hear from you!
This article has been updated and was originally published in April 2016. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.