The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification” (CCC 1360).
Catholics actively participate in the Eucharist as the source and summit of their Christian life. This active participation manifests itself by:
- gathering with a community of believers each Sunday and holy day
- praying together at Mass in word, gesture and song
- listening together to God’s word
- giving thanks and praise to God together for the gifts of creation, and in a special way, for the gift of Jesus Christ – his life, death and resurrection, and
- sharing in and becoming the Body of Christ through reception of Holy Eucharist at Mass.
Catholics believe that through active participation in the Mass and in a special way, through the reception of Holy Communion at Mass, they are filled with the real presence of Christ, and are therefore sent to be Christ’s presence in the world until he comes again in glory. St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, put it this way in the 5th century:
What you see is bread and a cup. This is what your eyes report to you. But your faith has need to be taught that the bread is the body of Christ, the cup the blood of Christ If then, you wish to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle as he says to the faithful, ‘You are the body of Christ and His members’. You reply ‘Amen’ to that which you are, and by replying you consent to be a member of the body of Christ so that your ‘Amen’ may be true. Be what you see, and receive what you are.
Centuries later St Thomas Aquinas gave us an explanation of how this mystery happens. He called it transubstantiation. By that he meant that the “accidents” (the visible reality) of bread and wine remain, but the “substance” is changed into Christ’s Body and Blood. This has also come to be understood as what Catholics mean by the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.
First Holy Communion
Preparing to receive Reconciliation and the Eucharist for the first time can be one of the most memorable experiences parents share with their children. Beforehand it is important that the family attend Mass each Sunday so that the child understands more fully what the Eucharist is about.
Families who regularly worship at the Catholic Parishes of Borehamwood are invited to enrol their children for the parish preparation for Reconciliation/Eucharist in June when they are in Year 3 or above. Parents play a major part in the preparation, which starts in September, and are guided through it with the help of monthly parents’ meetings, guide books and children’s workbooks. Catechists also lead the children in group activities once a month. When the children have worked on their particular chapter at home, they bring their books to Mass for the monthly Eucharistic Celebration and present them at the Offertory. The parish prays for these children throughout their sacramental preparation.
Preparation for reception of Holy Eucharist takes in conjunction with the First Reconciliation Programme and is open to all children in Year 3 or above in Primary school. Full attendance at Sunday Mass is required. Celebration of First Communion is usually held on Sundays following Easter/Pentecost.
Registration for the 2021-22 First Holy Communion Programme is now closed, forms for the 2022-23 programme will be accepted from July 2022. Click here to register your child.