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Simple ways to prep your kids for First Communion

Girl receiving her First Holy Communion

Dagmara_K | Shutterstock

Cecilia Pigg - published on 03/12/24

Preparing my child for First Holy Communion has been an occasion to think back on my own childhood and remember the things that stuck with me.

It is a First Holy Communion year in my family, so I’ve been recalling memories from that time in my own life. Three moments come to my mind.

Our pastor at the time, Fr. Jones, showed us how to open our mouths and stick out our tongues to receive Communion using the phrase, “like little birds waiting for their breakfast.” My grandma was with me and reminded me what little birds look like when they open their mouths by referencing the movie A Bug’s Life that we had recently watched.

Father also told us to count the number of times Jesus says “abide” in the gospel — the reading about the vine and the branches from John. I remember standing in the pew with my fellow first communicants, counting the “abides” and keeping track with my fingers as Father proclaimed the gospel.

And the third moment in my memory was going on a retreat two days before my First Communion, where I read a letter that my mom had written to me about St. Philip Neri and preparing to receive Jesus.

How best to prepare?

I know I attended weekly religious education classes at our parish in preparation for First Communion in addition to going over lessons and books with my parents at home. However, I can’t remember most of that content, though I’m sure it informed me. Still, it is the baby bird’s open mouth, counting the abides, and the St. Philip Neri letter that had staying power.

You never know what moments will stick in your child’s memory. So, what should you prioritize to help your child prepare?

Family at church together

Learning through example

At the end of the day, your example is the most compelling way to show your child the importance of the Eucharist. It was obvious to me that receiving Jesus was very important, even necessary, in my parents’ life. So, the most important way to prepare your child in my mind is to go to Mass together.

Talk about the Eucharist, how Jesus is truly present in the sacrament, and what He means to you. Share things you remember from your own First Communion, or things you wish you had known at the time. But even if you feel you don’t have the right words, the fact that you prioritize Mass every Sunday means a lot.

The Holy Eucharist in adoration

Adoration

Go to adoration together. Spending time in Jesus’ Eucharistic presence is life-changing, and if you haven’t experienced that yet, it is just a matter of time. Show up and be open. If your child sees that it is something desirable in your life, they will be more open to it in their own lives.

For some ideas for how to pray during adoration, whether you are there for fifteen minutes or an hour, check out this minute-by-minute guide, or this general guide.

A scene from the short film "The Veil Removed"
A scene from the short film “The Veil Removed”

Books and media

Read or watch together incredible stories about the Eucharist in people’s lives throughout the ages. Stories of the Blessed Sacrament is a book that contains beautiful stories of Jesus in the Eucharist throughout the ages. It is written in a simple way that engages my three-year-old, my seven-year-old, and myself. There are a few of the stories that I struggle to finish reading out loud as I choke back tears.

The Veil Removed was a powerful, seven-minute watch for the whole family. We prepared the kids by explaining that the people in the video were just actors, and that is not what angels actually look like — but that the video portrays the reality of what is happening at Mass that we can’t see with our eyes.

Presence: The Mystery of the Eucharist: This is a series on the Eucharist that includes a special episode for children, and one for parents who are preparing their children to receive their First Communion. We found that the three main episodes of the series were engaging for both us and our kids (even if the content was a little over our kids’ heads).

Listen to the engaging stories of Blessed Imelda and Blessed Carlo Acutis, two saints who dedicated their lives to Jesus in the Eucharist in a special way.

Tags:
ChildrenEucharistFamilyFirst CommunionSacraments
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