From Catechism of the Catholic Church: Please read: The Sacrament of Eucharist
In Our Parish / Diocese: The First Holy Communion is given after the child received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Propably the child is at the age of 10 or older. For more info, please contact the Director of Faith Formation, Freeda, at the church office.
Eucharist and Church History:
The Last Supper, at which Christ instituted the Eucharist, was a Passover meal – in which the Jewish family not only remember the moment when their ancestors were freed from slavery in Egypt, but also become aware that God’s freedom is experienced in the present. Jesus, at the last Supper, transforms the Passover meal when he takes, blesses, breaks and shares, asking the disciples to ‘Do this is memory of me.’After the death and resurrection of Jesus the disciples continued to meet for what they called ‘the breaking of bread’ – a communal meal. Soon the rite was separated from the meal, developing a more prayerful setting and the celebration moved from the Jewish Sabbath to Sunday, the first day of the week and the day of resurrection.The celebration included readings from scripture, singing of psalms and an instruction. Around the words of institution were added prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession. Communion was distributed and there was a collection for those in need.
By 3rdcentury the ritual had completely replaced the fellowship meal. The concept of sacrifice began to develop alongside the idea of a memorial meal. The Breaking of Bread, the Lord’s Supper, became the Eucharist. The language of the celebration was Latin – the language of the people. – and, as Latin came, over time, to be used more and more, the name Mass developed – partly from the last words of the celebration ‘Ite, missa est’.
In the 4th century Constantine gave freedom to Christianity and Christianity became the official religion. Basilicas were built forChristian worship, numbers grew, celebrants wore the clothes of Roman officials, the plates and cups of house worship became ornate patens and chalices. Ceremonies suitable to large buildings developed; processions, ritualised movement on the sanctuary andthe use of incense and bells.
In the early Middle Ages huge and beautiful Gothic cathedrals were built across Europe, colourful public processions on feast days and pilgrimages to holy shrines were met with great enthusiasm.Participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, however, declined. This was such a concern the Lateran Council in 1215 decreed that people should receive communion at least once a year.In 1545 at the Council of Trent, at the time of the Reformation, came the doctrine of transubstantiation, the teaching that at the celebration of the Eucharist the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus (see CCC 1374-76). At the Council a strong unified Catholic position on the Eucharist was declared with great authority. The Council’s statements on the Eucharist reflected the desire of the bishops to see a unified practice throughout theChurch. The language of the documents gives emphasis to the understanding of Eucharist as sacrifice over the fellowship-meal.The clarity and uniformity were taken a stage further with the publication in 1570 of the Roman Missal, which remained unchanged until the Second Vatican Council. The Mass was celebrated in Latin, with priest and people facing East.
By the end of the 19th century a need for liturgical reform was recognised. Pope Pius X in 1905 encouraged people to receive communion more frequently and in 1910 lowered the age of First Communion to ‘the age of reason’ (7yrs). Pope Pius XII in MediatorDei (1947) gave greater impetus to the liturgical movement.
In 1959 Pope John XXXIII called a council – the Second VaticanCouncil – whose first document was the Constitution on the Sacred Lliturgy (December 1963). A number of changes were introduced.The priest now faced the people. Vernacular languages replacedthe Latin. People shook hands at the greeting of peace. The congregation was asked to participate actively in the Mass, to sing and pray at various times. The three year cycle of readings was developed to introduce the people to a ‘richer’ experience of scripture. Communion under both kinds was allowed and thereception of communion in the hand. Lay participation developed in the ministries of the Eucharist and of Reader.
The Second Vatican Council reinforced the centrality of this sacrament to the life of the Church. In the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, we are told that the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ [LG11]. It is ‘the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed;at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.’Sacrosanctum Concilium – Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 10
Rev. Msgr. Xavier Pappu
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