First Holy Communion

Preparation for First Holy Communion & First Penance

FOR DISCUSSION WITH YOUR CHILD

1. AT MASS WE ALL BELONG AND EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING TO DO

DOES GOD’S TEAM HAVE A NAME

When we were Baptised you became a member of God’s Team and we call that the Church. You might think the Church is just a building but the Church is also the anme we give to the people who gather in the building. Without the people, the Church would be just another building. We will call the building ‘God’s House’ and when we talk about the Church we are talking about God’s team. one of the most important things we do as part of God’s team is go to Mass.

WHAT DO WE DO AT MASS?

There is a special name for all the people gathered together for Mass. They are called the Assembly. Everyone in the Assembly helps to make the Mass a celebration by:
1. Joining in the prayers
2. Standing, kneeling and sitting at the right times
3. Singing
4. Listening carefully
5. Offering our gifts to he shared
6. Coming to the table to receive Holy Communion or a blessing.

In other words, we are all part of the action! In Church language this is called ‘full active participation’.

At every Mass you will notice that some members of the assembly have different jobs. We call these jobs ‘ministries’. Let’s look at some of them:

THE PRIEST:

At Mass the priest leads us and encourages us to play our part in the celebration. How does he do this? He:
Leads us in prayer
Invites us to listen to Gods word
Helps us to understand and make sense of the Word of God in our daily lives through his homily
Takes our gifts, the bread and wine, offers them to God and prays that by the power of the Holy Spirit they will become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

THE SERVERS:

Servers are normally boys and girls who have received their First Communion. Their job is to help the priest during Mass. They can carry books, bring water and wine, wash the priest’s hands and ring bells.

MINISTERS OF THE WORD:

Even though we sometimes call this person the reader. the proper name is ‘Minister of the Word’, The readings of Mass come from the Bible. They are the Word of God and so we can say that we hear God speaking to us through the voice of the Minister of the Word.

THE COLLECTORS:

The people who collect our gift of money during Mass.

THE MINISTERS OF THE EUCHARIST:

The people who helps to give out communion at Mass. They sometimes bring communion to those who are unable to come to Mass because they are sick.

MUSIC MINISTRY:

Many parishes have choirs – groups of people who sing at Mass. Their singing helps the whole assembly to pray and we are all encouraged to join with the choir. Some parishes may have people who lead the assembly in singing. These are called cantors.

 PREPARING THE CHURCH FOR MASS

The sacristan is a very important person in church. He or she opens and closes the building, makes sure that
it is warm and welcoming, prepares the altar, lights the candles, Puts out the necessary books and things
needed for the Mass and makes sure that there are enough candles, wine and altar breads for Mass and makes sure that there are enough candles, wine and altar breads for Mass.

In most parishes there are people who look after cleaning of God’s house. they also make sure that there are flowers to decorate the altar. They put up the crib at Christmas and decorate God’s House for special occasions.

2. AS MASS BEGINS

ARRIVING AT THE CHURCH
Usually when we come into God’s house we bow our heads or go down on one knee. This is called genuflection. It shows respect and love for Jesus. We genuflect or bow in front of the tabernacle, the special place where Jesus is present at all times.

WHERE IS THE TABERNACLE IN GOD’ HOUSE?

The tabernacle may be behind the altar or to one side of it. There will he a red light near the tabernacle, called the Sanctuary Lamp. This light tells us that Jesus, the Blessed Sacrament. is present inside. The Blessed Sacrament is another name for Jesus.

HOW DOES MASS BEGIN?
Mass usually begins with a song or hymn and if we know the song we should join in the singing. The words of the song might he on a hymn sheet or book on your seat. When this song begins we know that it is time to stand up.

WHY DO WE STAND UP?

We stand to greet the priest who will lead us in prayer; in this way we are also greeting Jesus who is present among us.

Mass always begins with a procession. There are different kinds of processions. Sometimes there are lots of people; sometimes it is the priest on his own. The procession might come from the front door or from the sacristy. What happens where you go to Mass?

WHO IS PART OF THE PROCESSION

Usually the procession includes the priest and the servers. In some places the people who are going to read and help to give out communion will also be in the procession. You might see one of the readers carry the book from which the Gospel will he read. This book is called the Lectionary.

WHAT THE PRIEST WEARS
The special clothes that the priest wears for Mass are called vestments.There are three different pieces which he needs to put on.

Over his ordinary clothes the priest puts on a white or cream coloured tunic called an alb.

Then he puts on a long piece of coloured cloth which looks like a scarf and is called a stole.

Over the alb and the stole he puts on his chasuble. The colour of the stole and the chasuble is very important. It tells us what season we are in or what special occasion we are celebrating in the Church year. There are four main colours worn during the year: green. purple, red and white.

3. INTRODUCTORY RITE

 

MASS BEGINS

When the priest arrives at the altar he kisses it. This is sign of respect. He then goes to the special chair which is near the altar. We call this the ‘Presider’s Chair’. The priest leads us in prayer from this chair.

We all make the Sign of the Cross together. This is the way we begin almost all our prayers.

The priest then says, ‘The Lord he with you‘ and we answer by saying, ‘And with your spirit.‘ This is a special way of greeting us and reminds us that God is always with us

The priest then introduces the Penitential Act

WHY DO WE HAVE A PENITENTIAL ACT?

This time in the Mass offers us an opportunity to prepare to receive Eucharist by reflecting on the things that we might have done during the past week for which we need forgiveness. We are reminded that God always loves us. One of the ways in which God shows this love is by always forgiving us for those times when we haven’t been as good as we might have been.

There are different kinds of prayers that the priest can use at this part of the Mass. These prayers do two things. They help us to remember the times when we haven‘t been as good as we might have been. More importantly they remind us of God’s love for us.

The prayer of the Penitential Act that your child will come to know best this year is the Confiteor (see prayers at the bottom of this section). This is one of the prayers that you will need to help your child learn as they prepare for their First Penance.

This prayer is always followed by the Kyrie. ‘Kyrie is a Greek word meaning ‘O Lord’.

THE GLORIA

The Kyria is followed by the Gloria. This is a very old prayer of praise and thanksgiving. The first few lines will sound familiar because it was the song sung by the angels when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. We do not pray the Gloria during the seasons of Advent and Lent.

OPENING PRAYER

After the Gloria the priest will invite us to pray. The prayer begins in silence. This gives us time to talk to God in our hearts. We might want to thank God for something good that has happened or we might want to ask God to take care of something that we are worried about. Then the Priest takes all our prayers and offers them to God. The words of the Opening Prayer differ from Sunday to Sunday and reflect the theme of the Mass. We respond by saying ‘Amen’. Amen means that we believe that whatever God does is OK with us.

PRAYERS

The Confiteor
I confess to almighty God
and to you my brothers and sisters
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefor I ask Blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Kyrie
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

GLORIA
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.