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Mass and Eucharist

​(see MASS below)

FIRST HOLY EUCHARIST / FIRST HOLY COMMUNION


The three Sacraments of Christian Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist—together form the process of sacramental initiation into the Church. If this will be your First Holy Communion, it will mark your wonderful beginning of sharing at the table of the Lord with the whole Church at your local parish.

Our parishes offer our families sacramental preparation that prepares them for First Holy Communion. The preparation process takes place usually around seven years of age or otherwise as determined by the pastor. Whether or not their children attend a Catholic school, the parents are to register their family for the preparation at their parish.


 

​Resources


To learn more about First Holy Eucharist/First Holy Communion, these resources may help:

 

Frequently Asked Questions​​


1. My child attends a Catholic school. My family goes to Mass at our local parish. Who is responsible for preparing my child for First Communion, the school or the parish?

The parents and the parish are responsible for your child's preparation for the First Holy Communion, with help from our Catholic schools. To prepare for First Holy Communion you are to register your family in your local parish.

If you are not attending a parish currently, we warmly invite you to participate in the Mass on Sundays with one of our many parish families.

 

2. Why is this preparation held in the parish and not the school?

The immediate preparation for the celebration of the sacraments is the responsibility of the parents and the parish.

 

3. Why are parents involved in the process?

Children to the faith of the parents are like sponges to water. At baptism the point about the parents' and godparents' responsibility to pass on the faith of the Church is clear as day in the symbol of the lighting of the candle from the paschal candle at Baptism. The Church involves parents in the faith of their family from the start, because parents are called to be "the first preachers of the faith" to their children.​[1]

The parents "are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their off-springs",[2] as St. Augustine once said that parents are called "not only to bring children into the world but also to bring them to God".[3] For these reasons the Church calls the Christian family "the domestic church" (CCC: 1655-1658; Compendium: 350), as Pope John Paul II reminds us in the words of Pope Paul VI:[4]

The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighbourhood of which it forms part.

 

4. Why is there a cost associated with this preparation?

While there is absolutely no fee associated with the Sacrament of Eucharist, our parish families help cover such expenses as program materials, refreshments, and so on, through voluntary donations.

 

5. What if my child is not ready to celebrate the sacrament?

Please speak to the pastor or coordinator.

 

6. If my child did not receive First Communion in Grade Two, can they receive it when they are older?

Yes, but please speak to your parish pastor for their preparation for First Communion.

 

7. How may validly baptized non-Catholic children receive First Communion?

The pastor will be able to speak to your particular situation. [5] Validly baptised non-Catholic children between seven and fourteen years should be enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children of Catechetical Age.

 

8. Can a non-baptised or non-Catholic child receive First Communion if they are enrolled in a Catholic school?

No. Eucharistic communion is reserved to those who are in the fullness of ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church.

 

9. Can an Eastern Catholic or an Orthodox child receive First Holy Communion?

First Holy Communion is usually the first celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Because baptised children from these ecclesial communities normally received First Communion along with Baptism and Confirmation, these children do not usually celebrate First Holy Communion again. Orthodox children are usually not presented for First Communion even if they are enrolled in Catholic schools.

Speak to your pastor about your particular situation, especially if the child has a Roman Catholic parent or if the parents would like to be received into the Catholic Church.

 

[1] Lumen Gentium, 11.

[2] Gravissimum Educationis, 3

[3] Lumen Fidei, 43.

[4] Familiaris Consortio, 52; cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 71.

[5] For common examples, see the Archdiocesan resource Invited to the Feast, especially pp. 21-22.​


 

MASS (Eucharist)

 

In the Eucharist, Jesus Christ, the Risen Saviour, meets us visibly and personally in the power of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal Collins puts it this way:

Until Christ comes in glory, there is no more intense way of experiencing His presence than receiving Him in Holy Communion. This is not "holy bread" that reminds us of Jesus. This is Jesus, sacramentally present to be with us on our journey.[1]

"Jesus offered himself on Calvary in generous, unselfish love, in the midst of evil—giving and not counting the cost".[2] Because of Him, we know what our eternal identity is: To be His witnesses by our love in action. "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

In one sense, we can say that Mass never ends because Jesus sends us forth in our mission of service with the reassuring word: Go.

The Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist make us full members of the Church. This also brings with it responsibility and so the Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Mass on Sundays.

 

Resources


To learn more about the Eucharist, these resources may help:

 

Frequently Asked Questions​​


1. May I receive Holy Eucharist on my tongue?

It is in the right of the communicants to decide whether they will receive the Eucharist in the hand, on the tongue, kneeling or standing. The norm of the Archdiocese of Toronto is to receive Holy Eucharist standing prefaced by a slight bow of the head (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 160).

 

2. Can I receive Holy Communion more than once a day?

Yes, but no more than twice in a 24-hour period: "One who has received the Blessed Sacrament may receive it again on the same day only within a Eucharistic celebration in which that person participates". (Canon Law 17).

 

3. Under what circumstances should Catholics receive Eucharist?

If we desire to receive Christ in communion, we must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (CCC: 1415) We are all welcome to attend the Mass in "spiritual communion" and to encounter God's Word read and proclaimed, whether or not they receive the Eucharist.[3]

 

4. Does my separation and civil divorce, prohibit me from receiving Holy Communion?

"Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance." (CCC: 1415) If the divorced are remarried civilly, the Church maintains that the new union cannot be recognized as valid if the first marriage is valid: "they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists". (CCC: 1650)

 

5. If I'm a non-Catholic, what procedures and protocols should I observe when I go to Mass?

We ask that you respectfully observe the parish community at Mass, and that you freely follow along as the community prays, sings, reads, listens, sits, stands, and exchanges greetings with one another in the presence of Jesus Christ.

 

6. Why are members of other ecclesial communities not invited to take the Eucharist?

Eucharistic communion is reserved to those who are in the fullness of ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church since we cannot separate the mystery of the Church from the mystery of the Eucharist.

We earnestly pray to the Lord for complete unity among all God's faithful, and we thank God for bringing you to our midst.

 

7. Does watching The Sunday Mass on TV fulfill my Sunday obligation?

No. The Church obliges the faithful to be present and take part in the Mass on Sundays whether or not the faithful receive the Most Holy Sacrament. (CCC: 1389) For those who wish to receive Communion and cannot be present at Mass due to sickness or otherwise, they may request a priest or deacon or an extraordinary minister to bring Communion to them at their homes.[4]

 

8. Can I have a Mass in a park or in my home or a place not in the Church?

The Archdiocese of Toronto does not endorse Masses celebrated in a private home. "The celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise. In this case the celebration must be in a decent place." (Canon Law 932) Note that "it is never lawful for a priest to celebrate in a temple or sacred place of any non-Christian religion".[5] For more detail please consult Protocol - Celebration of Holy Mass Outside of Sacred Space.

 

9. My organization is holding a picnic and would like permission to have a Mass celebrated in the park before the picnic starts.

The public celebration of Holy Mass outside of a sacred space (i.e. Church or Chapel) requires the permission of the Chancellor of Spiritual Affairs in all cases. Please refer to the Protocol.

 

10. Why do we stand, sit, and kneel at various times in the Mass?

In the Mass the Church is at prayer. Prayer involves our entire being. We can pray through our actions such as our gesture and body position.[6] Kneeling and standing, for example, carry profound meanings in worship.[7]

 

11. When did Jesus Christ institute the Eucharist? ​

Jesus instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday "the night on which he was betrayed" (1 Corinthians 11:23), as he celebrated the Last Supper with his apostles. (Compendium, 272)

 

12. What is the meaning of transubstantiation?

A wonderful change of the ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ takes place during the Church's eucharistic prayer through the efficacious word of Christ and by the action of the Holy Spirit. (Compendium, 283) This is a mystery of faith. "Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity." (CCC: 1413)

 

13. I have celiac disease?  What do I do?

In consultation with your parish priest and your physician, there are at least two options: 1. you may receive a "gluten free" host if available, or 2. you may receive Holy Communion from the chalice, instead of the host. Make sure that you refrain from drinking from the priest's chalice because of the small amount of the host in the wine under the fraction rite.

 

14. What are some roles at Mass?

Cardinal Collins shares his reflections on these roles in Cornerstones of Faith:[8]

    • Disciples: "the basic role of each of us at Mass".
    • Priest: "He [a disciple] is ordained to preach the Gospel, and in the sacraments to act in the person of Christ, to be used by Christ as an instrument of grace."
    • Deacon: "The deacon proclaims the Gospel, is an ordinary minister of Communion, prepares the gifts, and helps at the altar."
    • Lector/reader: he/she "is called to proclaim the Word of God clearly and effectively."
    • Server: An "important", "noble and unobtrusive role at Mass", servers "should see that all that is needed is ready, so that there is no distraction during Mass".
    • Extraordinary minister of Communion (Eucharistic minister): they are to distribute the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass or to bring Communion to those who cannot be present at Mass.
    • Musician: Those who help the whole community to praise God through music.
    • Minister of hospitality and service: "The parishioners who greet those who enter the church, and give them practical help, are messengers of the welcoming love of the local family of faith." Others assist by taking up the collection and in various ways that strengthen the parish community after Mass.
    • Catechist: Those who help with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or with a children's liturgy.

 

[1] Thomas Cardinal Collins, Cornerstones of Faith. Reconciliation, Eucharist and Stewardship (Toronto, Canada: Novalis, 2013), p. 47.

[2] Ibid., p. 45.

[3] St. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 34.

[4] Redemptionis Sacramentum, 133.

[5] Redemptionis Sacramentum, 109.

[6] Cf. Les Miller, Sacraments and Signs (Toronto, Canada: Novalis, 2014), p. 4.

[7] Cf. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy (San Francisco, USA: Ignatius, 2000), pp. 184-216.

[8​] Cornerstone, pp. 59-64.



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