Preparing First Communion Liturgies: Making Student Participation a Priority
Topics for Reflection:
- No Rite of First Communion exists!
- First Communion is a parish liturgy. It needs to be celebrated in the midst of the gathered community. The same principles apply to prepare First Communion liturgies as apply to prepare Sunday liturgy.
- First Communion is a sacrament of initiation. RCIA is the model for all catechesis.
- In baptism, the eucharist begins, and in Eucharist, baptism is sustained.
- Put the Sunday Eucharist at the center of all catechesis: liturgical catechesis. CCC 1075: “Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ (mystagogy) by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from sign to the thing signified, from sacraments to the mysteries.” Mystagogy is living the mystery: mystery being a truth so deep we can never exhaust the search, the journey. There is a call to continual reflection and conversion in the mystery.
- Children have an innate sense of God’s presence and greatness.
- Parents and families need to share in the formation and preparation: the domestic church. The entire community shares in the preparation: “it takes a village!”
- Ritual prayer is a formative experience; a process of becoming. Children need ritual.
- Liturgy is Gospel-centered. It is the center of our lives as Christians. The liturgy is the honored place of our shared memories. It shows us who we are and who we are meant to be.
- We have the tools we need to teach. We need only to use them. Trust the liturgy. Let the symbols speak. We are evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy.
- Liturgy is a ritual activity that appeals to the senses and the imagination, more than to the intellect. The language of the ritual is primarily an act of the imagination; it provides a way of seeing what might be or could be. It awakens our inner life and gives us a connection, meaning, and purpose. We learn to see beyond what meets the eye! We do not need to understand in a cognitive way.
- Our task is to nurture the religious imagination; to help students find their inner selves.
- Liturgy forms us in our way of being in the world; our sacramental stance. It gives us a world rooted in love.
- There is no better way to evoke the imagination than through music.
- Children are NOT the future church. They are integral participants in the church today. We need to respect their dignity as children.
Directory for Masses With Children, 1973
General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 2011
First Communion Liturgies, Donna M. Eschenauer, Liturgical Press, 2014
Guide for Celebrating First Communion, Jo-Ann Metzdorff and Paul Turner, LTP, 2015
From Mass to Mission: Understanding the Mass and Its Significance for Our Christian Life, Trish Sullivan Vanni, LTP 2016