In 155 AD – roughly 125 years after Christ’s death – St. Justin Martyr wrote to Emperor Antoninus to explain what Christians actually did during their rituals. Christians were persecuted for their ‘atrocities’ and the Saint was appealing to reason, pleading for the Emperor’s clemency.
“On the day we call the day of the sun, all who live the country or the city gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read…when the reader has finished, he who presides (priest) over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together to offer prayers for ourselves and for all others, wherever they might be, so that we might be found righteous by our life and actions. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the father of the universe through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist, no one may take part in it unless he believes what we teach is true…”
St Justin and second century Christians were carrying out the wishes of their master, Jesus of Nazareth.
In the two thousand years since, Catholics have carried out Christ’s command by celebrating the memorial of His sacrifice. In so doing, we offer to the Father what He has given us – fruit of the vine and work of human hands – bread and wine, which by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ, become the body and blood of Christ. Catholic children wear white because it is the Christian color worn for Sacraments.
(Secret Catholic Insider’s Note: In the tradition of his Catholic ancestors, when England’s Prince Charles is crowned, he will wear white – the ancient symbol of a Christian King.)
A Parents’ Guide to First Holy Communion
Long after the party is on Facebook, your child will carry the memory of their First Holy Communion in their heart. Parents need to ensure that their children understand the high seriousness of the occasion and know the basic facts about the Faith when they take Holy Communion with Our Lord for the first time in their lives.
Why First Confession? Confession – also called “Reconciliation” or “Penance” – is your child’s first experience with the great feeling of peace that Catholics have after they have unburdened their souls. Respect this sacrament, and teach your child to make a good confession.
For centuries, the Church has considered seven to be the “Age of Reason” – when a child can discern between basic right and wrong.
(Photo courtesy of Victor Di Corcia)
What can a young child have done that warrants this formal confession of sins? At the age of reason, children can understand a simple moral code – and they know when they have violated it. Also, the experience of seeing everyone go to Confession shows the child that we are all sinners – and that we are all forgiven because Jesus died for our sins. Respect the Sacrament, and teach your child to make a good confession
What is an Examination of Conscience? Before the Sacrament, be sure they have quiet time to examine their conscience: http://www.ncregister.com/info/confession_guide_for_children/
Why wear white for Communion? White is the Christian color, worn for all first sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders — and even the crowning of Christian monarchs!
How is the Catholic belief about Communion different from other Christian traditions? This is huge. Catholics – along with all Eastern Orthodox, Maronite, Coptic and Syrian Christians – believe in Transubstantiation. This means that the bread and wine are transformed in their substance to the Body and Blood of Jesus, by the actions of the priest who consecrates them at Mass.
Why is this such a big deal? Once consecrated, the Host and Wine are regarded by Catholics as the Real Presence of Jesus. This is why the priest carefully consumes all of the consecrated Host and Wine.
Catholics – along with Eastern Orthodox, Maronite, Coptic and Syrian Christians – believe in Transubstantiation. Once consecrated, the Host and Wine become the Real Presence of Jesus.
How should children be taught to behave when they receive Holy Communion? Catholics behave with utmost respect in the Real Presence. When the Host and the Chalice are raised, we are absolutely silent, eyes fixed on the Sacrament. Children should take Communion on the tongue if at all possible. They should also be taught to fold their hands reverently, keep their eyes down as they walk and never to chew the Host.
More questions? Google the Catechism of the Catholic Church for Children, the Baltimore Catechism or the Catechism of the Good Shepherd.