Yes, that is a picture of my First Communion Veil; my mother saved both my veil and my dress all these years. Recently, I showed them to my daughter, as part of our home preparation for her First Communion, which she will receive this weekend. I washed the veil and dress and my daughter even tried them on. I offered to let her wear them, but she preferred the excitement of shopping for a new dress and veil. Now that it is time for her to receive the Eucharist, I will put mine away again for several years until my next daughter is studying to receive communion.
You are probably wondering: why is my daughter receiving her First Communion in January? Our parish is blessed to have over two hundred children preparing to receive First Communion this year. In order to make sure they each get proper instruction, experience a blessed retreat, and have a shorter wait during the reconciliation service, half of the students will receive First Communion in January and half at the more traditional time, in May. Having two groups also allows plenty of time for parents to ask questions at the required meetings and parent sacramental sessions.
At home, we have been studying the Eucharist intentionally since the summer, when we made small lapbooks for the Feast of Corpus Christi, The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We also started attending a children’s adoration hour once per month, in addition to attending weekly adoration during the summer. You can read my post about making the lapbook and attending children’s hour here.
During adoration, I remind my children that Jesus is there with us in the chapel, inside the monstrance. I take them to the altar to kneel and pray to him before we leave.
I have also been instructing my daughter during mass, explaining the parts of the mass to her, and asking her to watch while the priest consecrates the bread and wine. Both of my daughters enjoy watching the priest and deacon hold up the large host and the chalice while the bells ring, signifying the transformation into Christ’s body and blood.
We bought the new Sunday Missal before the liturgical year began, so we could practice the changes to the prayers that went into effect this year, and so she could follow along during the mass. As I child, I liked reading the prayers and songs in the missal, and my daughter enjoys this also. This missal also has a picture illustrating the main message of the gospel for each mass, which helps her comprehend the gospel reading. She has asked to take the missal with her during her First Communion mass, so I know it helps her pay attention (the children receiving First Communion will sit together in the front of the church).
All of these instructional moments have been in addition to the lessons she studies in her CCE class each week. Just last week, I found a wonderful craft that teaches about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist designed by Jennifer at the blog Catholic Inspired (formerly Crafolic). Here is how it turned out; note how in the first picture, you see the host, and in the second you see Jesus.
You can see more images and download the coloring page and the picture of Jesus from Catholic Inspired here. We did add one thing to the craft; my daughter wrote “Jesús es en el eucharisto,” (a mistake that should say “la eucaristía”) which means “Jesus is in the Eucharist” inside the circle that covers the picture.
Jennifer has designed a number of wonderful crafts and art projects; you can see some of them in her picture gallery, which also includes our second image from above.
We have kept the Eucharist on our minds all week. While eating grapefruit the day after doing the craft, my daughter said the fruit looked like the Eucharist from her picture, with the host in the center and the membranes like the rays of light shining out.
Maybe you had to be there. We are also going to color pictures that show images of Jesus inside the Eucharist from the Eucharistic Youth Movement website: you can find their entire selection of coloring pages here. I found pictures of Jesus inside the Eucharist in the sections labeled “Jesus” and “Eucharist.” El sitio del Movimiento Eucarístico Juvenil en español está aquí.
We are looking forward to my daughter’s big day; we will celebrate with family after mass on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, I will take her to mass again to see a friend receive First Communion. The children receiving this sacrament are assigned to five different masses; I think the opportunity to receive First Communion on Saturday and then to receive communion again on Sunday is a wonderful way for my daughter to start her relationship with the Eucharist.
If you have ideas or suggestions for how to keep the Eucharist in our hearts and on our minds, let me know. I plan to continue our home education about receiving communion, so I welcome your thoughts.
Reminder: I’m giving away a copy of my new book, Entre la claridad, this week. See this post for details on how to enter the drawing. FYI: If you are reading this post after January 2012, this giveaway has already happened.