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History of First Communion

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First Communion is defining moment in your child’s life. Catholic families believe in the sacredness of First Communion.

The Sacrament of Eucharist, also called the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion, is the second of the seven sacraments. The earliest Biblical account of the Eucharist is found in 1 Cor. 11:23-26. Instituted by Christ at the Last Supper, the Holy Communion has since been commemorated by many churches, the Roman Catholic Church being the biggest Christian denomination to observe this.

The Roman Catholic Church also follows the example Jesus Christ set which shows how much children mean to Him, saying that the kingdom of God should be welcomed like a little child welcomes it. “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:15-17 (cf. Mark 10:13-15; Matthew 19:13-14).

Since the beginning, in its efforts to bring children to Jesus, the Roman Catholic Church has allowed children and infants to take part in the sacred repast. In some churches it was traditional to give children the small bits left from the adult communion. This religious custom was done also at Baptism as prescribed in ancient ritual books in the thirteenth century. Later on this practice was discontinued in the Latin Church. Although the practice of giving Holy Communion to very young children was changed, the Catholic Church never condemned this.

On August 15, 1910, a decree re-establishing an ancient Church law on First Communion (Quam Singulari) was made official by Pope Pius X. He encouraged the admission of children to reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist by lowering the age for First Communion to seven years. The Pope wanted the children who were between the ages of seven and eight to take part in the Eucharistic service soon after they reach the ”age of discretion”. The Catholic Church defines “the age of discretion” as the age in which the child begins to reason.

Today, while there are many Christian churches that allow children who have been baptized to participate in the Holy Communion, the Catholic Church advocates First Confession to precede First Communion. Aside from making the First Confession, the child should also be in the state of “grace”, and as part of the requirements of the Church. Taking part in First Communion means that the child has arrived at the age of discretion and has successfully met all the Church’s requirements, e.g., have a first communion dress, attend catechism classes, and memorize some prayers.

Source by RR Ritchey

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