A prayer service for First Communion families
The Eucharist is central to our faith. All our life flows out of our receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ who is our Lord and Savior. How can we convey this important doctrine to those we teach? We want all Catholics to believe that it is Jesus we receive. Of course, it begins with us. Do we believe and do we desire to receive Jesus?
Jesus tells us: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). He gives us himself for our salvation. We receive Jesus to become more like him — “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). The Eucharist is considered to be the source and summit of our faith.
When preparing for First Communion, be sure to include parent involvement. This short prayer service can be used with parents and children together. If you don’t have a time when they are together, use it at a parent meeting and discuss the reading, leaving out the activity at the end. You can also adapt it for older students by changing the style of the prayer intentions and inviting a student to read aloud the reading.
Set up the environment
Use a small table and provide an arrangement of grapes and bread, a candle, a Bible, small
slips of paper for each participant to write their name on (template available at catechist.com/Names), and a bowl or basket to put the names in.
In advance of the service
As people arrive, ask them to write their first name on the slip of paper, fold it, and put it in the bowl. Prepare a parent ahead of time to serve as a reader. You can also ask a family or two to help pray the petitions at the end of the service.
LEADER: [Make the Sign of the Cross.] Jesus, hear our prayers today as we learn to see you present in the Eucharist. Thank you for dying for us and giving us your very self so that we can be close to you always.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
LEADER: This reading reminds us that Jesus gave himself to us at the Last Supper and told us that we are to remember him in the breaking of the bread and drinking of the cup. After we hear the Scripture, we will listen to a song for our quiet time of meditation. Let us quiet ourselves to hear God’s Word.
PARENT/LECTOR: A reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians. [Read the
Scripture.] The word of the Lord.
ALL: Thanks be to God.
“Remembrance” by Matt Maher and Matt Redman. See CATmag.us/31qEmJr for a version with lyrics.
[If possible, have a parent and child read each intention together.]
LEADER: Father, we ask for your grace as we prepare to receive Jesus in our first Holy
Communion. Help us to love your Son.
RESPONSE: Lord, hear our prayer.
LEADER: God, help us to stay close to you always. We pray to the Lord. ℟.
Jesus, help us to know you and love you. We pray to the Lord. ℟.
Holy Spirit, be with us every day as we grow and learn. We pray to the Lord. ℟.
Blessed Mother, be with our mothers. Help them to teach us about your Son, Jesus. We pray to the Lord. ℟.
St. Joseph, stand with our fathers so they can take care of us. We pray to the Lord. ℟.
Help us as we prepare to receive our First Holy Communion. We pray to the Lord. ℟.
LEADER: Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus. As we get ready to receive our First Holy Communion, help us understand how much Jesus loves us. Please be with everyone we pray for and remind us to be grateful for all you have given us each day. Amen.
Have each family cut out a large paper heart from construction paper. When they have done that, give these instructions: “On this heart, you are going to write down what Jesus gave us at the Last Supper and how you can thank Jesus for the gift of himself in Holy Communion. Are there things you can do or say that show how grateful you are? You can write down a word or phrase to remind you.”
Spend a few minutes allowing each family to answer the questions. Each family member can contribute. When they are done, tell them to fold the heart in half. If time allows, ask the group to share some of their responses.
Take-home prayer for one another
At the end of your time together, have each person take a name from the bowl as they leave, making sure they do not have their own name. Suggest that each family decide on a time to pray for the person whose name they take from the bowl and to thank Jesus every day, using what they wrote on the heart. Family members can add to the heart, too, as they get ready for First Communion.
DEANNA BARTALINI, MEd and MPA, is a writer, speaker, and catechist serving on the retreat team at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center in North Palm Beach, Florida. She is the author of Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women: Invite the Holy Spirit into Your Life (Our Sunday Visitor). Find more at DeannaBartalini.com.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, November 2019