The Eucharistic Assembly
In the Eucharistic Assembly the people of God are called together under the presidency of the Bishop, or of a priest authorised by him, who acts in the person of Christ. All the faithful present, whether clerics or lay people, unite to participate in their own particular way, according to their various orders and liturgical roles.
The Eucharistic celebration is to be so ordered that all the participants derive from it the many fruits for which Christ the Lord instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice. (Canon 899, par 2 and 3)
Holy Communion for children
For Holy Communion to be administered to children, it is required that they have sufficient knowledge and be accurately prepared, so that according to their capacity they understand what the mystery of Christ means, and are able to receive the body of the Lord with faith and devotion. (Canon 913, par 1)
It is primarily the duty of the parents and those who take their place, as it is the duty of the parish priest, to ensure that children who have reached the use of reason are properly prepared and, having made their sacramental Confession are nourished by this Divine Food as soon as possible. It is the duty of the parish priest to see that children who have not reached the use of reason, or whom he has judged to be insufficiently disposed, do not come to Holy Communion. (Canon 914)
The preparation of children in the parish for the sacrament of the Eucharist takes place during their Grade 4 year at school. These children will have first celebrated the sacrament of Reconciliation in Grade 3. Parents are required to participate actively in preparing their children for the Eucharist by: –
Providing personal example through: –
o Their own genuine and sincere desire to receive the Eucharist,
o Going to Confession regularly, attending Holy Mass and receiving the Eucharist every Sunday,
o Showing an active interest in their children’s catechism lessons, and
o By attending the special parish preparation program for parents.
Confession and Communion
The Commandments of the Church require the Faithful to go to sacramental Confession at least once a year. Failure to do this through their own fault is a grave sin that disqualifies that person from receiving Holy Communion until they have repented and they have been absolved from that sin in sacramental Confession.
No one who is conscious of grave (mortal) sin may receive the Body of our Lord without previously having been to sacramental Confession, unless –
There is a grave reason and
There is no opportunity to confess.
o In these cases, that person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, which includes the resolve to go to sacramental Confession as soon as possible. (Canon 916)
Those who carelessly absent themselves from Holy Mass or arrive late on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation through their own fault(and cause their children to do so) may not receive the Blessed Eucharist without first having been to sacramental Confession (as per Canon 916 above).
Communion more than once a day
Anybody who has received the Blessed Eucharist may receive it once again on the same day, only within a Eucharistic celebration (Mass) in which that person participates. (Canon 917)
Whoever is to receive the Blessed Eucharist is to abstain before Holy Communion for at least an hour from all food and drink with the sole exception of water and medicine. The elderly and those who are suffering from some illness, as well those who care for them may receive the Blessed Eucharist even if within the preceding hour they have consumed something. (Canon 919, par 1 and 3)
Alcohol should not be consumed for at least three hours before receiving the Blessed Eucharist.
Holy Communion for non-Catholics?
Celebration of the Sacraments is an action of the celebrating community, carried out within the community, signifying the oneness in faith, worship and life of the community. Where this unity of sacramental faith is deficient, the sharing of the separated brethren with Catholics, especially the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance (Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick), is forbidden.
Nevertheless, the Sacraments are both signs of unity and the sources of grace; therefore, for adequate reasons the Church can allow access to those Sacraments to a separated brother. This may be permitted when: –
That person is in danger of death or in urgent need (during persecution, or in prison);
The separated brother has no access to a minister of his own communion, and
o Spontaneously asks a Catholic priest for the sacraments, so long as he declares a faith in these sacraments in harmony with that of the Church,
o And is rightly disposed.(Ecumenical Directory Published in Rome by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. 1967)
Non-Catholics who wish to receive the blessed Eucharist on a regular basis should seek to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. This requires the candidate to enter into a period of instruction on the beliefs, teachings, disciplines and practices of Catholicism so that there can be an active acceptance of these. There is a programme called Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). For more details, you can contact the Parish Priest.
Divorce and Holy Communion
“Those Catholics who are divorced and remarried cannot be admitted to the Eucharist, but they can and must participate in the life of the Church. They should hear the Word of God, frequent the Sacrifice of the Mass, devote themselves to prayer, engage in promoting charity and justice in the community, and educate their children in the Christian Faith” (Synod of Bishops 1980)
A marriage in the above situation is not a sacramental union and is not recognised by the Church. The couple (or Person), therefore, is not able to participate fully in the sacramental life of the Church.
In order to receive the Eucharist, the couple should approach their Parish Priest to enquire about the possibility of an annulment. If impediments did exist in that previous marriage and the application for nullity on those grounds is successful, the couple will be able to convalidate their existing union and return to full sacramental life.
In those cases where impediments did not exist or where an application for annulment has been unsuccessful, the Church is willing to apply compassion and pastoral care for the couple by investigating the possibility of a Pastoral Solution.
This will depend on:-
1. The genuine desire of the couple (or the Catholic spouse) to receive the Eucharist;
2. The duration and stability of this second non-sacramental union;
3. The absence of scandal in the community;
4. The good example to be given to children through personal faith and a sacramental life;
5. The prudent judgement of the parish priest who reserves the right to consult with or seek approval of the Diocesan Bishop;
A couple in such a situation should not hesitate to approach their Parish Priest who will guide and advise them.
Please Note: Those who are divorced and have not remarried are not prevented from receiving the Blessed Eucharist, provided they have been to a sacramental confession and no other impediments exist. If in doubt please consult with the Parish Priest.
Non-Sacramental Marriages and Communion
Those Catholics, who enter into marriage outside the Catholic Church without obtaining the necessary dispensation from the Diocesan Bishop, do not enter into a sacramentally valid marriage. This constitutes an impediment to receiving the Blessed Eucharist. Such a couple should consult the Parish Priest with a view to convalidating their marriage, thus enabling them to return to full sacramental union with the Church.
The Church desires that all its faithful should be able to participate in the Blessed Eucharist and to derive the spiritual benefits from this most special sacrament. The special nature of this Sacrament, however, requires that particular care and attention be given to ensure worthy reception. (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29)
Q: What is First Holy Communion?
A: First Holy Communion is the initial reception of the second of the seven Sacraments, i.e. the Holy Eucharist. It is usually administered to a child who is attending the 4th grade of the present education system. This is a momentous and joyous occasion and an important milestone in the spiritual journey of the person.
Q: When is First Holy Communion administered?
A: In our Parish, First Holy Communion is administered on the Feast of Christ the King, which falls on Last Sunday of the Liturgical year, generally in November.
Q:What Preparations are involved?
A: In line with directives from the Diocese,
Candidates are required to undergo a full year of training.
Before actually receiving the Sacrament, candidates undergo a further two weeks of intense preparation given by the Catechist/s and Parish Priest.
Q: What is the Role of the Catechists?
A: The Catechist Team comprises trained parishioners who are responsible for training and preparing the candidates. The team works in conjunction with the Parish Priest, with the syllabus provided by the Diocesan Catechetical Centre.
Q: Whom Do I contact?
A: Contact the Parish Priest or Sunday School teacher who is directly responsible for teaching the First Holy Communion lessons. For more information, please contact the Parish Office.
Q: Is there any special preparation required?
Every First Holy Communicant needs to attend the regular classes and training sessions.
If the child is inadequately prepared and does not know proper catechism at the end of the year, the parents will be called to the Parish Office and the Parish Priest has the full right to postpone the First Holy Communion for that particular candidate.
If a candidate for First Holy Communion absents him or herself from the classes for three weeks, then that child has to repeat the year unless and until the parents of that child have first excused their child and have satisfied the Parish Priest with sufficiently serious reasons.
o The parents must then make arrangements with the Parish Priest to satisfy him that the candidate has satisfactorily made up for the missed training before being re-admitted as a candidate for First Holy Communion.