Holy Eucharist / Holy Communion
Of all seven sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is the most central and important to Catholicism. Holy Communion is offered at every Mass, and in fact, the ritual of the Mass is largely taken up with preparing the hosts (wafers made of wheat and water, or gluten-free) and wine to become the body and blood of Christ and the congregation to receive the body of Christ. Transubstantiation is the act of changing the substances of bread and wine into the substances of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Remember, The Holy Eucharist refers to Christ’s body and blood present in the consecrated host on the altar, and Catholics believe that the consecrated bread and wine are actually the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. For Catholics, the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist isn’t just symbolic, it’s real.
When you receive Holy Communion, you’re intimately united with Jesus Christ — he literally becomes part of you. Also, by taking Holy Communion, you express your union with all Catholics who believe the same doctrines, obey the same laws, and follow the same leaders. This sense of participation in a larger community is why Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox Christians) have a strict law that only people who are in communion with the Church can receive Holy Communion. In other words, only those who are united in the same beliefs are allowed to receive Holy Communion.
When boys and girls make their First Holy Communion (usually in second grade), it’s a big occasion for Catholic families. Like their Baptism, the day of First Communion is one filled with family, friends, and feasting after the sacred event has taken place in church.
The children are generally too young to appreciate all the theological refinements, but as long as they know and believe that it’s not bread or wine they’re receiving but the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, then they are old enough to take Holy Communion.
At Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Therese Mission preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the sacrament of First Holy Communion actually begins in our Faith Formation program in the first grade and continues through the second grade. Our second grade teacher along with assistance from the parents has the principle responsibility of instructing our students in both sacraments.