If you didn’t grow up Catholic, you might have a lot of questions about the sacrament of Holy Communion. Maybe you are Catholic but you still have a lot of questions. It’s certainly understandable. In today’s informative blog post, we’ve put together a quick primer to answer the most popular questions about this sacred practice of the church.
Holy Communion, or the Holy Eucharist, is one of the sacred sacraments observed during every Mass in the Catholic church. In fact, of the seven sacraments, it is considered the most important.
During the ritual, participants are given a host (edible wafers made of wheat and water) and wine to eat and drink, symbolizing the body and blood of Christ. For Catholics, these elements, when taken, truly become Christ through holy transubstantiation, which is why it is so significant
Besides being one of the sacred sacraments of the church, much of the purpose behind communion can be found in its name. Communion is an act of “communing”, sharing and even communicating. With God. And with those who share the faith.
It also provides a time of reflection. The importance of the ritual itself is supported with transubstantiation, but the actual practice or the “doing” of communion, allows participants to have a moment of stillness and contemplation. These are often much needed in the midst of such a busy world.
For the Roman Catholic Church, the process of Holy Communion is relatively standardized. Participants receive the host and wine from an ordained priest during the Mass ceremony. The only requirements for communion participants are good standing with the Catholic Church and abstinence from eating and drinking 1 hour before partaking.
Orthodox churches have a very similar practice as the Catholics with some nuanced differences. However, Protestant churches approach communion in a multitude of different ways. It is also commonly referred to as the Lord’s Supper, an allusion to the Last Supper when Jesus communed and ate with his disciples – the key event proceeding the Passion of Christ.
If you take a look at the primary example of communion in the Bible – the Last Supper – you will find that Jesus was never very specific on the “right way” to engage in this ritual. The understanding of the metaphor given by Christ is universal. But its interpretation and application have changed over time, evolving through various peoples, various regions, and various traditions.
While communion is practiced differently depending on the church you attend, its foundation, meaning, and purpose are always the same.
After baptism, the First Holy Communion is the most important event in the life of a Catholic child. If baptism represents a child’s dedication to God and their official welcome to the church, communion is the moment of official participation.
Occurring when a child is between the ages of seven and thirteen, this rite of passage is the very first time a boy or girl will receive the Holy Eucharist. The church treats this event as a sacred celebration of devotion. Girls dress in white gowns and boys wear suits with white shirts, while the families of the children traditionally honor the occasion with copious photographs, the gathering of close relatives, and after-church social outings.
We sincerely hope our communion primer has helped answer some of your questions. And just in case you know a young one on the precipice of their First Holy Communion, The Bradford Exchange is a great place to shop for the occasion. We offer some truly meaningful ways to help celebrate their special day, including fine jewelry, heirloom keepsakes and personalized gifts.