I’m confused about the actual rules on First Holy Communion. Is it required that all First Communions must be done at regular Mass, or can a Parish schedule a special Mass for First Holy Communion? I know we are “one body” and Communion needs to be with your “community”. But is your “community” only at the specific Mass you attend? What about your Religious Ed or Catholic School community? If there is something official written on this I’d like to read it and share it with my Parish Administration.
It is acceptable to receive one’s first Communion at a regular Mass or at a special Mass for the occasion. The entire Church is present whenever Mass is celebrated because Christ is present.
Our parish is really small. As such that means there is usually only 1 or 2 children receiving First Communion at a time. Father just has them receive their First Communion when ever they are ready instead of doing a special Mass. Now when the children do receive they do still wear the appropiate attire. White dresses for girls, nice suits for boys (if they can afford it). The children are also the first ones to receive.
Celebration of the Sacaments takes place in a persons parish church. First Reconciliation is required to be prepared for and offered before First Holy Communion. No specific requirement for a special or regular Mass. The First Communicant should receive the Sacrament for the first time from a priest.
what is the particular law in your diocese? check its website. For instance on cdob.org, (Brownsville) under synodal legislation, you can see the recently adopted rules on sacraments. Particular law adapts and applies canon law to the specific circumstances of the diocese–age for sacraments, mandatory preparation etc.
By definition First Communion must occur in the context of Mass. In fact that is the preferred setting for sacraments especially those of initiation. Private celebrations are not supposed to be done, and this diocese discourages separate celebrations, although most of the Catholic schools have their own Mass at another time. Some still have the entire class or portion of it at a Sunday Mass. Simple logistics make that impossible here, our church is too small. Children and families set a date and Mass time of their choice on any Sunday of the Easter season, no more than 10 families at any one Mass (1/4 of the pews reserved).
We are supposed to be providing the actual sacramental prep classes (as distinct from regular religious education in the school or CCD) for parents and children for the entire parish, and it looks like that will happen starting next year, we are still working on the details. Children in Catholic schools, as well as public schools, are supposed to prepare for and receive the sacraments in their own parish, which any more is not necessarily the same parish as the school.
I cannot find much information about a normal First Communion Mass. All there seems to be in the liturgical books is this from the Lectionary:
“7. CHILDREN’S FIRST COMMUNION
Some or all of the readings may be taken from the Mass of the day, Mass of Christian Initiation, pp.18ff, or Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist, pp. 768ff.”
(Lectionary Volume III Study Edition, Collins Liturgical Australia, 1983, ISBN 0005997666, page 109.)
In the Latin edition of the Lectionary, these instructions are on page 358.
The Roman Missal does not have a First Communion Mass. It does have, for example, a baptism Mass and Confirmation Mass. The instructions for a Confirmation Mass are: “One of the following Masses is celebrated when confirmation is given within Mass or immediately before or after it, except on the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, solemnities, Ash Wednesday, and the weekdays of Holy Week.” (Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1985, page 834).
For a First Communion the votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist may be appropriate. With the bishop’s permission this can be done according to the following, from the 2002 General Introduction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :
“374. In cases of serious need or pastoral advantage, at the direction of the diocesan Bishop or with his permission, an appropriate Mass may be celebrated on any day except solemnities, the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, days within the Octave of Easter, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day), Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week.”
The liturgical book “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults” has some general guidance:
"1 CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF CHILDREN WHO HAVE REACHED CATECHETICAL AGE
242 This form of the rite of Christian initiation is intended for children, not baptised as infants, who have attained the use of reason and are of catechetical age. They seek Christian initiation either at the direction of their parents or guardians or, with parental permission, on their own initiative. …
245 For the celebrations proper to this form of Christian initiation, it is advantageous, as circumstances allow, to form a group of several children who are in this same situation, in order that by example they may help one another in their progress as catechumens.
246 In regard to the time for the celebration of the steps of initiation, it is preferable that, if possible, the final period of preparation, begun by the second step, the penitential rites, coincide with Lent and that the final step, celebration of the sacraments of initiation, take place at the Easter Vigil (see no. 8). Nevertheless before the children are admitted to the sacraments at Easter, it should be established that they are ready for the sacraments. Celebration at this time must also be consistent with the programme of catechetical instruction they are receiving, since the candidates should, if possible, come to the sacraments of initiation at the time that their baptised companions are to receive confirmation or eucharist.
247 For children of this age, at the rites during the process of initiation, it is generally preferable not to have the whole parish community present, but simply represented. Thus these rites should be celebrated with the active participation of a congregation that consists of a suitable number of the faithful, the parents, family, members of the catechetical group, and a few adult friends.
248 Each conference of bishops may adapt and add to the form of the rite given here, in order that the rite will more effectively satisfy local needs, conditions, and pastoral requirements. … "
(The paragraph numbers above are from the RCIA book used in England and Australia. In the USA edition they are numbers 252-258.)
RCIA introductions for England and Wales are at catholic-ew.org.uk/liturgy/Resources/Rites/ .RiteRitual.html#RCIA .