Of all seven sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is the most central and important to Catholicism. Holy Communion is offered at every Mass, and in fact, the ritual of the Mass is largely taken up with preparing the hosts (wafers made of wheat and water, or gluten-free) and wine to become the body and blood of Christ and the congregation to receive the body of Christ. Transubstantiation is the act of changing the substances of bread and wine into the substances of the Body and Blood of Christ. Along with the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, First Holy Communion is one of our three sacraments of initiation.
The Holy Eucharist refers to Christ’s body and blood present in the consecrated host on the altar, and Catholics believe that the consecrated bread and wine are actually the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. For Catholics, the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist isn't just symbolic, it’s real. First Holy Communion is considered one of the holiest and most important occasions in a Roman Catholic person’s life.
When you receive Holy Communion, you’re intimately united with Jesus Christ — he literally becomes part of you. Also, by taking Holy Communion, you express your union with all Catholics who believe the same doctrines, obey the same laws, and follow the same leaders. This sense of participation in a larger community is why Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox Christians) have a strict law that only people who are in communion with the Church can receive Holy Communion. In other words, only those who are united in the same beliefs are allowed to receive Holy Communion.
The Holy Eucharist is food for the soul, so it’s given and eaten during Holy Communion at the Mass. Holy Communion is in the form of consecrated unleavened hosts made from wheat flour and water, just like the unleavened bread used by Jesus at the Last Supper. The host is flat and the size of a quarter or half-dollar. Roman Catholics may receive the host on their tongue or in their hand if the local bishop and the national conference of bishops permit. We should receive holy Communion as often as we can, even every day. We may receive holy Communion no more than twice in a single day.
Here are some places to help you with preparing for First Holy Communion:
JMJ Bookstore 412-854-2577
M&M Photography 412-854-1414
Frog and Princess 724-941-8589
Bethel Bakery 412-835-6658
Dr. Cindi Fuselier
St. Valentine Religious Education Office
2709 Mesta Street
Bethel Park, PA 15102