The Holy Father speaks to Children:
Your First Holy Communion
Pope John Paul II speaks directly to children about the solemn importance of First Holy Communion in this excerpt from his "Letter to Children" written in 1994 during the "Year of the Family".
Dear friends, There is no doubt that an unforgettable meeting with Jesus is First Holy Communion, a day to be remembered as one of life's most beautiful.
The Eucharist, instituted by Christ at the Last Supper on the night before His passion, is a sacrament of the New Covenant -- the greatest of the sacraments. In this sacrament, the Lord becomes food for the soul under the appearances of bread and wine.
Children receive this sacrament solemnly a first time -- in First Holy Communion -- and are encouraged to receive it afterward as often as possible in order to remain in close friendship with Jesus.
To be able to receive Holy Communion, as you know, it is necessary to have received baptism: this is the first of the sacraments and the one most necessary for salvation. Baptism is a great event! In the Church's first centuries, when baptism was received mostly by grownups, the ceremony ended with receiving the Eucharist, and was as solemn as first Holy Communion is today. Later on, when baptism began to be given mainly to newborn babies -- and this is the case of many of you, dear children, so that in fact you do not remember the day of your baptism -- the more solemn celebration was transferred to the moment of First Holy Communion.
Every boy and every girl belonging to a Catholic family knows all about this custom: First Holy Communion is a great family celebration. On that day, together with the one who is making his or her First Holy Communion, the parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, godparents, and sometimes also the instructors and teachers, generally receive the Eucharist.
The day of First Holy Communion is also a great day of celebration in the parish. I remember as though it were yesterday when, together with the other boys and girls of my own age, I received the Eucharist for the first time in the parish church of my town. This event is usually commemorated in a family photo, so that it will not be forgotten. Photos like these generally remain with a person all through his or her life. As time goes by, people take out these pictures and experience once more the emotions of those moments; they return to the purity and joy experienced in that meeting with Jesus, the one who out of love became the Redeemer of Man.
For how many children in the history of the Church has the Eucharist been a source of spiritual strength, sometimes even heroic strength! How can we fail to be reminded, for example, of holy boys and girls who lived in the first centuries and are still known and venerated throughout the Church? Saint Agnes, who lived in Rome; Saint Agatha, who was martyred in Sicily; Saint Tarcisius, a boy who is rightly called the "martyr of the Eucharist" because he preferred to die rather than give up Jesus, whom he was carrying under the appearance of bread.
John Paul II