First Communion: Receiving the Bread of Angels

By Monique Sammut | May 4, 2018
The Month of First Communions

Every May is a time to celebrate spring, new life, and the end of school.  It is also a time for joyous First Communion celebrations.  First Communions are exciting times to celebrate because children are receiving Jesus for the first time.  The ages for First Communions have varied over the years, but nowadays, the usual age is eight years old, when the children are in second grade.  The Sacrament of Confession comes before First Communion.

First Communions are very important because, in the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

The devotion to the Eucharistic Heart of Christ is at the very heart of our Catholic faith.

Holy Communion is the third Sacrament received in the Catholic Church and it is the center of Christian initiation together with Baptism and Confirmation.  Every other Sacrament in the Church flows from Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation.

The Greatest Gift

The Sacrament of the Eucharist is an important Sacrament because Jesus is the center of Catholicism and should be the center of our lives.  In the Eucharist, Jesus is closer to us than anyone can ever be.  Everything in the Church flows from the Eucharist.  Our life and the life of the Church flow from Jesus and the life He gives us by giving us Himself in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is a big deal for children receiving Jesus for the first time.  However, after a while, the Eucharist can become an ordinary part of our lives.  This should not happen!  Jesus should always be an important part of our lives and His closeness should never be taken for granted.  We should treat every Communion as if it is our first and as if it is our last.  During Communion, Jesus comes to us in a very special way and He is closest to us in the Eucharist.  When someone, be they child or adult, receives Jesus for the first time, it is exciting because they are closer than ever to Jesus in a way they have never been before.

It is unfortunate that Jesus has become just an ordinary part of our lives and it is also sad that First Communion has become a rite of passage.  The significance of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is lost in the presents, the pictures, the clothes, the attention, friends, and family.  The celebration is not a problem, if the One we celebrate is forgotten.

First Communion Traditions

The most obvious tradition is that of the clothes worn by the children.  The boys wear suits and ties while the girls wear white dresses and veils symbolizing purity.

Traditional gifts for First Communicants include rosaries, prayer books, holy cards, and religious pictures, statues, and icons.

From the Mouths of Saints

“Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven.”  Pope Pius X

“Recognize in this bread what hung on the Cross and in this chalice what flowed from His side.”  Saint Augustine of Hippo

“In the Mass and in Eucharistic Adoration we meet the merciful love of God that passes through the Heart of Jesus Christ.”  Pope Saint John Paul II

“In an ever-changing world, the Holy Eucharist is a constant reminder of the great reality of God’s changeless love.”  Mother Teresa

“Without the Eucharist, the Church simply does not exist.”  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.”  Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“There is nothing so great as the Eucharist.  If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.”  Saint John Vianney

“The Holy Eucharist is the perfect expression of the love of Jesus Christ for man.”  Saint Maria Goretti

“You can fly to Heaven on the wings of Confession and Communion.”  Saint John Bosco

“When you approach the tabernacle, remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.”  Saint Josemaría Excrivá

Parting Thoughts

First Communion is a time of great joy!  The Saints in Heaven rejoice every time someone receives Jesus.  Every day Jesus waits for us in the Tabernacle and in the Eucharist.  Celebrating the day a child receives Jesus for the first time is special and important.  Baptism is the gateway to all of the other Sacraments but the Eucharist is the food for the journey that sustains us and allows us to carry on.  It is said that if the angels could envy humans, they would envy the fact that we can receive Jesus.  Blessed Imelda Lambertini is the patron Saint of First Communicants, because she loved Jesus so much that she died of joy on the day of her First Communion.

“Until we have a passionate love for our Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament, we shall accomplish nothing.”  Saint Peter Julian Eymard