The sacrament of the Eucharist is our family meal. It is the sacrament in which Jesus shares Himself most completely with us. We believe that Jesus truly becomes physically present to us under the signs of bread and wine. On the night he was betrayed Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples, offering the bread and the cup with the words, “This is my body” and “This is my blood” (Matthew 26:26-28). He asked the disciples to do what he did in His memory, and the Church continues to celebrate this meal in the Mass.
Children’s preparation for first reception of the Eucharist begins in the home. The family has the most important role in communicating the Christian and human values that form the foundation for the child’s understanding of the Eucharist. Children who participate with their family in the Mass experience the Eucharistic mystery in an initial way and gradually learn to join with the liturgical assembly in prayer. (NDC, 36-3a)
Eucharist is deeply bound to a parent’s concern. No one will ask parents to state their expectations for their children on their child’s First Communion Day. It is the child’s turn to make a one-word response – to speak an Amen, an assent in faith, to a statement that has many levels of meaning: “The Body of Christ.”
Parenthood reflects the parenthood of God Jesus called Father. “Eucharist, believers insist, expresses God’s dream for all children.” (Carol Luebering, Handing on the Faith) Dreams are also spun by family members, catechists and classmates, the parish staff, and the parish community also surrounds their son or daughter, for Eucharist is the focus of all believers’ dreams. It is, in believing minds, intimately connected with the deepest aspirations of the human heart. It speaks many aspects of our hunger for God: meal, sacrifice, initiation, and unity.
The parish immediate period of sacramental formation is freestanding from the Catholic school, homeschooling and the parish faith formation program. It therefore stands apart from any specific grade designation. Ordinarily, the use of reason occurs around the age of 7 years or grade two.
A minimum of one full year’s attendance in a Catholic school or formal faith formation is required immediately previous to the year in which a student is accepted into a Sacramental Program. Candidates need to participate in instruction on the Sacrament of Eucharist according to the level of their psychological development, ability, age, and circumstance. A fuller catechesis is presented each year thereafter.
The regulations for reception of the Sacrament of Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Baltimore can be found in Signs of God’s Love.
Follow this link: Sacrament of Eucharist Resources