Preparing your children for first Holy Communion

Lesson 1 first Holy Communion

Passover 

The story of Jesus’ special meal is the story of a new people.  Did you know Jesus was a Jew?  What Jesus was doing at that special meal was thanking God by remembering the Passover and making a further commitment to God and God’s people by instituting a new kind of Passover! Check out the story of the Passover and the Jewish Feast of Passover that celebrates the freeing of the Israelites: http://video.about.com/judaism/The-Story-of-Passover.htm

Now check out the story of how Jesus was to offer himself as the Passover sacrifice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlDoY6f14DE

  • Discuss with mum and dad what you think the Passover is and what it means.

 

Lesson 2 first Holy Communion

Celebrating a new kind of Passover

‘Jesus took some bread and said “This is my body which is for you, do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way he took the cup and said “This is the new covenant in my blood.  When you drink it, do this in memory of me”’[1]

The origins of the Christian Passover meal called the Eucharist goes back to a Thursday night about two thousand years ago!  Jesus and his twelve closest friends were gathered in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover in memory of God freeing God’s people who were enslaved in Egypt.  The Passover calls to mind how God helped God’s people to become free from physical slavery.  Jesus transformed the meaning of this celebration which is now known as the Last Supper.  Instead of God intervening in the world to free his people from physical slavery, God sent Jesus to show people just how much God loves us by freeing us from slavery to sin. 

When we celebrate the Last Supper we are making present God’s grace that frees us from sin so we can live as true sons and daughters of God.  Entering into the Passover celebration we offer thanksgiving to God with Jesus.  This is why we call the Last Supper Eucharist as Eucharist just means thanksgiving!  When we thank God in the way Jesus did we enter into the mystery of his offering of his life to the Father so we may also offer ourselves to God!  This is why we also call the Last Supper the Sacrifice of the Mass. 

When we learn how to thank God by offering our lives back to God we become just like Jesus.  But we need strength to be able to love so much!  This is why Jesus gives us his Body and Blood as nourishment so we may have the strength to love like him.  

Jesus’ special gift

On that special night Jesus gave a special gift.  This was the gift of himself when he changed bread and wine into his Body and Blood.  Jesus was all about giving.  The next day he gave his life on the Cross.  Jesus gave everything he had!  Jesus calls us to be people who give to others.  When we are nourished by his Body and Blood we become strong enough to give of ourselves to all the people we love! 

Key aspects of Jesus’ special meal

    • Jesus changed bread and wine into his Body and Blood. 
    • It is real food that is spiritual nourishment. 
    • Jesus gave himself totally in the Eucharist anticipating his giving of his life on the Cross. 
    • Jesus gave us the Eucharist so his Body (the Church) may be nourished and strong enough to love other people just like him!
    • After the meal Jesus instructed the twelve to ‘Do this in memory of me.’
  • Discuss with mum and dad the key aspects of celebrating the Eucharist asking them to make sense of anything you do not understand!

 

Lesson 3 first Holy Communion

Giving thanks to God

The word we use for Jesus' new Passover meal is called Eucharist.  Eucharist means thanksgiving.  During the celebration of the Eucharist there is a beginning and an end bit! Also there are two really important bits in the middle!  What are they?

Introductory Rites:

This includes the entrance procession, sign of the cross and greeting, a penitential rite, the Gloria and the opening prayer.

Liturgy of the Word:

This includes the readings from the Bible, the homily, the Creed and the general intercessions.  During this important time we listen to God speaking to our heart especially when we listen to Jesus’ words we hear proclaimed by the Gospel!  

Liturgy of the Eucharist:

This includes the Preparation of the gifts, the Eucharistic prayer and Communion: we offer our gifts to God to become a holy, living sacrifice and God offers us the gift of himself in the Eucharist. 

Concluding Rites:

This includes any announcements, a blessing and a dismissal. 

Do this in memory of me!

Jesus told his disciples to “Do this in memory of me.”  We do what Jesus asks of his Church when we pray and thank God!  When we do what Jesus asks and participate fully at church there are three things that happen! When you check out the link to the Catechism and number 1358 you will find the three things that happen when we remember what Jesus has done just as he asked of us to do!

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P41.HTM

1358 We must therefore consider the Eucharist as:

- thanksgiving and praise to the Father; 
- the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Body; 
- the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit.

 

  • Do this activity below to help understand the three things we do when we go to church.

Thanksgiving

During the Eucharist we thank God for all the good things we have received in our lives.  We thank God just like Jesus did.  Eucharist means thanksgiving. 

What would you like to thank God for in your life?

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

Little Sacrifices

Making sacrifices brings us together.  When we celebrate Eucharist we remember the sacrifice Jesus made to make us one big family!

What little sacrifices have you made for the sake of your family that bring you together?

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

Presence

Jesus becomes present by the power of his word and of his spirit!  Jesus consecrates the bread and wine turning them into his Body and Blood when he says certain words through the priest. 

Jesus says: “Take and eat, this is my B____.

Take and drink, this is my B____...Do this in m________ of me.”

 

To summarize our lesson: Jesus gave everything

When we go to church to celebrate Eucharist and give thanks to God we remember the sacred meal where Jesus offered his Body and Blood to be our spiritual food and drink.  At the same time we are remembering how Jesus offered his life for us on the Cross.  Jesus gave everything he had –he sacrificed his own life for us! 

  • Jesus gave his Body and Blood as our spiritual food and drink
  • Jesus gave his life for us on the Cross
  • The sacrifice that Jesus made is what we celebrate when we go to church
  • When we celebrate and remember Jesus’ sacrifice we are doing what Jesus asks of us!     

  

 

Lesson 4 first Holy Communion

The bread of life

Jesus is the bread of life.  Just as our body needs food and drink to live our spirit needs spiritual food and drink!  We need the spiritual food that Jesus gives us when we receive communion. We participate fully when we are at church by thanking God, by offering ourselves to God and by receiving Jesus’ special gift of his Body and Blood. 

Check out this crazy video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMa41XUCxHY

With mum and dad discuss what you think Jesus means by the words “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

Becoming one with Jesus

When two people love each other they want to be close to each other.  When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we become so close to him that we are united with him in a special way!  Jesus is bursting with life and when we receive Jesus we receive the bread of life! 

  • Discuss with mum and dad how you receive the bread of life.  Also discuss with them that after you receive first Holy Communion will you receive Jesus’ precious Blood as well? 

A special thank you

Also to help you prepare for your special day when you receive Jesus’ Body and Blood prepare a special prayer of thanksgiving that you will say to Jesus when you receive him for the first time! This prayer will tell him how much you love him and how thankful you really are!

  

Lesson 5 first Holy Communion

The journey begins

Our life is a big journey where we learn how to offer thanksgiving to God just like Jesus.  We learn how to do that by going to church and offering ourselves to God with Jesus.  But as with all journeys we need nourishment.  Jesus knew this and that is why he gave us his Body and Blood, the bread of life we need to have eternal life!  Being nourished by Jesus’ Body and Blood is the spiritual nourishment we need so we can walk ‘side by side’ with Jesus on our life’s journey of faithful love that leads us to heaven and eternal life.   

Revision

We have learnt that we go to church to thank God for a new kind of Passover.  We celebrate Jesus freeing the people of God from slavery to sin and not from being enslaved in Egypt.  This Passover happened when Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice instead of the Passover lamb that the Jews offered to God.  A part of that complete offering of himself was Jesus’ offering of his Body and Blood to his friends so they could become one with him.  Jesus also asked his disciples to continue to offer his sacrifice and continue to give his Body and Blood to the people of God so they could be nourished by him who is the bread of life!  He said “Do this in memory of me.” 

Doing what Jesus did involves thanking God, remembering the sacrifice Jesus made and receiving Jesus Body and Blood by receiving Holy Communion.  Your journey in life is a journey of love.  Participating in Jesus’ thanksgiving meal or Eucharist is what you need to make this journey with Jesus!    

Put mum and dad to the test

To help you prepare to receive your first Holy Communion and to have some fun test mum and dad by asking them as many questions as you can from the Church’s teaching about the Eucharist!  Ask them about what is underlined because I reckon they would be the tricky questions!  Good luck mum, good luck dad! 

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P44.HTM

1406 Jesus said: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; . . . he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and . . . abides in me, and I in him" (Jn 6:51, 54, 56).

1407 The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church's life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church.

1408 The Eucharistic celebration always includes: the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son; the consecration of bread and wine; and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord's body and blood. These elements constitute one single act of worship.

1409 The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Passover, that is, of the work of salvation accomplished by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, a work made present by the liturgical action.

1410 It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice.  And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

1411 Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.

1412 The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine, on which the blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked and the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper: "This is my body which will be given up for you.... This is the cup of my blood...."

1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

1414 As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God.

1415 Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.

1416 Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant's union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.

1417 The Church warmly recommends that the faithful receive Holy Communion each time they participate in the celebration of the Eucharist; she obliges them to do so at least once a year.

1418 Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honoured with the worship of adoration. "To visit the Blessed Sacrament is . . . a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord" (Paul VI, MF 66).

1419 Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.

 

Lastly!

Here is something I might say on your special day!  Congratulations on all your hard work and I will be seeing you soon to see if you are ready for your first Holy Communion!

 

........Have you heard the really old story about Melchizedek who offered stuff to God because he was a priest and that’s what priests do?  And what did he offer?  Bread and wine –and he did it because he was so thankful to God.  Jesus did this too didn’t he?  He offered thanksgiving to God many times which led to his one great and final offering to God of not only bread and wine, but of his Body and Blood and finally his life! 

What we are celebrating when we come to church is the offering of Jesus of himself to God not only on the Cross but also for heaps of times way before that!  The story of the Last Supper is about Jesus thanking God for everything and then giving to all his friends from what he had received from God.  But get this!!! …His offering himself as the new Passover sacrifice at dinner and the next day on the Cross didn’t happen all at once but gradually during the whole of his lifetime!  His whole life was really one huge journey of offering himself to God, of loving God, of growing in his ability to offer thanksgiving and to increase what he offered to God ... until that point where he was able to offer his life!!!  

Do you remember this story?

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (Mark 6:30-44)

The apostles gathered around Jesus and … he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.  But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd … By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.  Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[a]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.  They all ate and were satisfied  and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.  The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

 

What did he say to his friends?  Did you hear?  I reckon he wants to say the same thing to you today because Jesus wants us all to learn to give of ourselves to others.  Jesus said “Give them something to eat yourselves.”  We must start to learn to give and Jesus wants us to start today!  Like Jesus we must learn how to offer true thanksgiving to God.  Just as he started by doing good things and sharing his life with others, today Jesus wants you to learn to share with others –to give others something of your ‘self’ today ... this is what thanksgiving and love is all about. This is how you thank and love God by loving other people in your life.  

But there is something extra special about coming to church to pray!  It is all about our thanking and loving God.  Did you know we are gathered around this table we call the altar and make present the night Jesus himself was at table with his disciples? ... The night when Jesus blessed the bread and wine, turning them into his Body and Blood and making a new covenant with God on our behalf.  And when we do as Jesus asks by letting ourselves be offered to God with him we are not only proclaiming how he died but we come to share in the eternal life that he won for us out of love. 

Our life is a big journey where we learn how to offer thanksgiving to God just like Jesus.  We learn how to do that here by offering ourselves to God with Jesus (that is what the Mass is).  But as with all journeys we need nourishment.  Jesus knew this and that is why he gave us his Body and Blood.  Being nourished by Jesus’ Body and Blood is the spiritual nourishment we need so we can walk side by side with Jesus on that journey of love that leads us to heaven and eternal life.    

 


[1] I Corinthians 11:23-26.