First Holy Communion Mass

My twin sons are in “preparation” for first Holy Communion, and the Mass they are have scheduled this for is starting to personally scare me. I honestly do not believe I can be a part of this and I am considering taking my children out of it.

I have been unhappy with the entire process, and so was already uncomfortable. To be brief, the classes have been useless, filled with error and those administering it have been very critical regarding every family’s participation and involvement. And now it has been disclosed that the kids will be doing everything in the Mass. They will be expected to read, carry up the gifts, sing songs in the choir (I think this part may be other children than those receiving first communion though), read the prayers, and so on. It is ridiculous.

My first problem is that I think the children should be allowed to focus on what they are doing in receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord. Why should they have to think about reading from the Bible, or doing any other sort of job? Isn’t your first time receiving Communion enough? I have been told, though, that this will be a “children’s liturgy” which means the kids have to do these things. It also means that nothing will be done to any proper standard, as I know from experience. Our regular Masses are packed with abuse from start to finish, but this goes too far for me. I simply cannot sit through a mockery of our Lord in that way. I hate children’s Masses and we intentionally do not attend them, and I resent being forced to do so now. The parish, as I see it, is using my children as tools in extorting me into participation in something I morally and ethically oppose.

Right now I have to say that this situation has begun to tear my faith to the core. I cannot receive communion, or participate in any sacrament, as I feel utterly isolated from the Church. I don’t trust the priests here, and I don’t trust the parishes. I want my children to have their first Communion, but I don’t like this process at all. This Mass is a circus entirely focussed on celebrating the people in the pews and patting each other on the back for being such progressive minded believers, and it has nothing to do with Communion itself. We are supposed to make a mockery of the Mass and then applaud everybody for doing it, and I just don’t think I can do that. If I cannot find some way out I really don’t think I can continue in any way with the process.

I am posting not to rant, though I know I cannot help but do so when I comment on what I am going through in this. Instead, I am hoping somebody can help me with information and advice. How bound am I to any of this which has been put in front of me as required for my children’s first Holy Communion? Do I have to take them to this particular Mass? Are they required to receive their first Communion from their parish priest, or can they receive at any parish like any Catholic? At which point are my children considered prepared, and who technically decides this? Basically, what are the rules about first Holy Communion as opposed to Communion?

I hate this process and it is truly making mincemeat of me. It has been the most uncatholic and unchristian undertaking I have ever been involved in. I am actually physically sick in thinking of it, and I really do not think I can sit through this Mass they are currently being required to be at. But, as this has been sprung on us only a month from the date I am not sure what I can do short of simply dropping out altogether. I will surely do that if I have to, but I really don’t want to if I can avoid it. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

The primary reason we attend the Mass is to be present at Calvary when Jesus Christ is offered to His Father for our sins. It’s not to receive communion.

If individuals are being coerced to read/sing/bear gifts then of course that is wrong. But if they are taking volunteers then I think doing so at one’s first communion Mass would be an honor in my opinion.

I can understand why this would bother you… do you have the option of attending a different (and more traditional) parish?

I would encourage you to receive the Sacraments even at this parish, simply because Our Lord really wants us to and He wants to unite Himself with us. Maybe you could offer your Communion in reparation for liturgical abuse; if you can’t find a better parish?

This is an unhappy situation for you and one that may be confusing to your twins. Regarding preparing them to receive their First Holy Communion, whether it be at this parish or a new one you join, I encourage you to catechize your children yourself. Religious Edu. supplements, not replaces, our teaching the faith to our children. We use the Baltimore Catechism books, The Saint Joseph First Communion book and others. If you’re doing this already - that’s great!

Please find a traditional Catholic parish asap! Who cares how far away it is, one hour, two hours, three hours. You need to get your sons in an environment where they can be taught by the example of the congregation as well as by you, or else they will end up the same as the people of this parish.

I completely understand what you are saying about being physically sick about what is going on in a parish. Trust me, you need to remove yourself now, because once you start hurting like this it goes downhill fast.

Why aren’t you receving the sacraments? :confused: That is doing yourself a GREAT deal of harm…

I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but isn’t the answer obvious? Go somewhere else.

I felt quite pushed through the process recently, and I’m writing a letter to the diocese. IT really felt the DRE was in a “get them communed at all cost” mindset and totally ignored reason after reason after reason why my son should not have received.

I’m not understanding what the problem is here. My daughter just received her first communion and the Mass was beautiful. The children at our school have a traditional Mass or they can choose to receive at any other Mass in the Month of May. Either way, the children have parts in the mass from readings, gift bearing, greeters, intentions, singing, etc. It was beautiful and the children who had parts in the Mass all did beautifully. I don’t see how it any way takes away from the receiving of communion for the first time, or any time.

There are lectors, commentators, and the like at each and every Mass - is that taking away from their receiving communion if they read? The Church is a body made up of many, children and adults. All the children were well prepared and practiced their parts and were so proud of what they accomplished. If a child did not want to have a part in the mass then they didn’t need to, no one was forced to do so. The smiles that lit up the three concelebrating priests at the childrens’ involvement made it all the more joyful. The congregation enjoyed it as well.

Perhaps because we have a school attached to our Parish and childrens’ masses are a regular occurence it is different and well received. I’m not sure why someone would “hate” a childrens’ mass? Is there some approrpriate age that you feel someone should be able to take part in the mass?

Looking forward, perhaps participation in this way will solidify their faith and may lead to future vocations in the Church… not a bad thing either.

With all due respect, I am trying to figure out exactly why you are upset? Our daughter received her First Holy Communion this past Saturday, in what sounds like a similar event.

It was a Saturday morning mass, and the children participated with singing, reading, bringing up of the gifts etc. It was beautiful, and the children had a fantastic time, and frankly, I would not have had it any other way. There were no liturgical abuses at all, just beautiful, happy children overjoyed with the thought of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time.

Our pastor, who is VERY traditional, even asked that the children who went through the event on Saturday come to Sunday mass in their suits and dresses. When we arrived for the 10:30am Sunday mass, our daughter, along with maybe 5 other children from the day before, were asked if they wanted to bring the gifts up during the mass. They were overjoyed to do so, and our daughter wants to know when she can do it again.

Again, I’m kind of wondering if I am missing something in your post that was done, or will be done, that is so out of the ordinary.

given that you are right in your documentation of various liturgical abuses in your parish, and sadly, I have no reason to doubt you, and I imagine it is even worse than you say, this attitude on your part is wrong, and there is great danger if you communicate it to your children as you react to this situation.

The actions of human beings in the Church must never, never, never be allowed to compromise your own Faith in Jesus Christ and His action through this wounded Church. You must, must, must return to the sacraments. If this parish is a danger to you spiritually find another one but on no account communicate to your child that attitude that we can leave the Church and lose our faith based on what some humans do or do not do properly.

Practical advice: make an appointment with the pastor, and no, as much as it is richly needed this is not the time to make your complaint about the planned liturgy. Simply tell him an urgent family matter has come up and your children will not be able to participate at that time. Ask if they can make first communion in the context of a regular Sunday Mass with you at a later date. Almost every parish is willing to do this. Then after First Communion, find your new parish. The time to change was in the beginning of their preparation when you became aware of the shortcomings in their formation, but there is no good to you remaining here now. But time your leaving in a way that does not deprive your child of the sacraments. ps no, you don’t need to inform the pastor that the urgent family matter is your own crisis of faith.

btw none of what you describe is wrong per se for a children’s liturgy, but I do agree that the first communicants should be focused on their own interior preparation, but some individual children may find the participation in reading, singing etc. actually enhances it, not for me to judge. I find it adds to anxiety and stress on the part of some children, and that is why I avoid it. but it is not abuse per se. I am going about what you say about liturgical abuse in general at your parish.

Based on my own personal experiences, I have sadly discovered that sometimes, Holy Week and sacramental liturgies (FHC, Confirmation and Weddings) wind up turning into hotbeds of abuse and experimentation.

While I was at our cathedral, the rector made it a point to not have the children do anything other than focus on the sacrament they were about to receive. Sadly, in many cases, when we get the kids to serve as lectors, cantors, gift-bearers and such, it does manage to take something away from what they are about to be doing. These activities suddenly become photo-ops for the parents, grandparents and other relatives. “See how cute my child looks” is what the families tend to look at and then the reception of the sacrament itself becomes an after-thought.

The children are nervous enough as it is about receiving First Holy Communion. To compound other activities into what is supposed to be a very important day in their spiritual life is not a good thing in my opinion. Let the catechists serve as the lectors and, if there is already a children’s choir in place, let them handle the cantoring and the singing.

The rector also geared his homily more towards the parents because they are their children’s first teachers in the Faith. While he addressed the kids briefly, he reminded the parents of their sacramental obligations to their children.

Regarding photos, we had the practice of allowing only the contracted photographer to take pictures, not parents and other relatives. This reduced the paparazzi atmosphere that tends to pervade these liturgies. If the parents wanted pictuers, they could do so after the Mass.

I have been to every parish in the area, i.e. within about an hour, and they are all pretty much identical. It would be at least a several hour drive to a parish with a different attitude, and I fear that neither my schedule nor budget will allow that. However, more importantly, we are already in the process here and coming to the end, and that is why I am wondering what my options may be. How locked in am I in this regard? I kind of hope I won’t have to wait another year to do this, and then only face another circus Mass, if you know what I mean.

Why aren’t you receving the sacraments? :confused: That is doing yourself a GREAT deal of harm…

I have to say it has nothing to do with anger at this parish, or some worry that I am too good to receive there. My faith is simply shattered. I cannot consider Communion without confession, and I cannot confess as I honestly have no ability right now to repent of anything. I am depressed, angry and isolated in such a way that I simply cannot approach the Church in any way. At this time there is nothing there for me at all.

Now is a good time to spend in quiet prayer to Our Lady or to Christ Jesus, and remember that we are all sinners in the Church. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Church is protected from error in faith and morals. But as the pilgrim Church on Earth we are imperfect members of the Body of Christ. Do not put your trust in human beings, because they will inevitably let you down. Instead place your faith and trust in the Sacraments, which always confer grace and holiness.

Your children have reached the appointed age and they deserve to be nourished by the Eucharist. Don’t allow your personal struggle to get in their way right now. Talk to them about the liturgy and explain how it could be done better. If possible, watch some reverent Masses on video and point out the good parts. But you must all be reminded that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is valid and efficacious even if you see abuses taking place. In the end, you may have to grit your teeth and endure this Mass, and many like it. Eventually, you may want to write the bishop or even the Holy See about these abuses - you do have a right to proper liturgy.

But now is the time to focus on your children and on the Lord, who is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Hold a festive party and invite their favorite relatives and friends. This is a very special time in your children’s life and it is your responsibility as a parent to see them through it.

Hi Cothige,
I am speaking to you from newly converted Catholicsmpoint of view, I am no pro when it comes to these things. When I was doing my sacraments(one month ago), the only thing that made me feel so much more at home was being involved in reading and taking up the offerings. Have you had a chance to speak with the twins when you were not angry? Possibly ask them how it made them feel? I promise you, you are doing the right thing for the twins. Later on in life they will say mom/dad, thank you for giving me a religion to belong to. This was something I didnt experience, and now I am in love with the Lord Our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Perhaps simply being offered the choice of different Masses helps, but we have no such comfort right now. We are being told that this is the Mass they must go to for their First Communion, and I cannot suffer it. Children of this age cannot effectively read the Scripture. If the readings are important to the Mass then they should be done by people properly formed in the ministry. Seeing a bunch of kids taken up to do this trivialises what everybody is supposed to be doing with very serious devotion. As a matter of fact, it trivialises the entire Mass, and that is why I cannot go. It is nothing but a bunch of people playing church as far as I can tell, and congratulating each other for it. And now, because I have children involved, I can’t help but feel that I am being forced to participate in something I find objectionable on a faith level, and my kids are the tools of the extortion. I cannot submit, and the anger and distrust are building up to simply unbearable levels.

There are lectors, commentators, and the like at each and every Mass - is that taking away from their receiving communion if they read?

Are they children preparing to receive the sacrament for the first time? If so, then yes, it is. We are going through this unbearably painful preparation because of how essential it is that the kids understand what they are doing. They are practising just how to hold their hands (because they are not being given the chance to receive on the tongue) and where to stand and how to walk so that they do it just right. But, with all that at seven years old, they are supposed to engage in public speaking? Give me a break. This is all about photo-ops, not communion, and the people behind it are simply out of their minds.

The Church is a body made up of many, children and adults. All the children were well prepared and practiced their parts and were so proud of what they accomplished.

I’m sorry, but this is just what we are being told, and it is wrong. Mass is not about us, or our children, feeling proud of their accomplishments. It is about our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Children should be prepared for the sacrament in a proper way, and should be able to receive it properly and in a sober environment. All of this hullabaloo being forced on us is not doing anything for the sacramental life of my children, but only making a bunch of people feel like they put on a good show.

If a child did not want to have a part in the mass then they didn’t need to, no one was forced to do so. The smiles that lit up the three concelebrating priests at the childrens’ involvement made it all the more joyful. The congregation enjoyed it as well.

I’m glad they did, but I do not, and because my children are being forced to receive this way I am being forced to attend. I do not think I can. Just imagine if your children had been expected to receive their first holy communion in a Traditional Latin Mass? How many parents would have been happy to attend? How many would have objected? And the TLM is not abusive, and everything being planned for this thing is liturgical nonsense. It is abusive throughout. Little kids doing the readings. Honestly. If that is how well the readings have to be done then they clearly mean nothing in the Mass. I doubt they would require adults to prepare and go to classes, as the Churches here do, in order to be readers if all it requires is the ability of a seven year old with one day of practice.

Perhaps because we have a school attached to our Parish and childrens’ masses are a regular occurence it is different and well received. I’m not sure why someone would “hate” a childrens’ mass? Is there some approrpriate age that you feel someone should be able to take part in the mass?

I hate children’s Masses because they are not dignified and reverent. Children singing Mary Had a Little Lamb for Christmas Mass is not worship, it is painful. Children’s Masses are absolutely typical of what I am surrounded by every week here. Horizontal worship. It is about celebrating ourselves, and not worshipping God. These awful children’s liturgies are distracting, ugly and unworthy of the Mass. And they are particularly bad for children, who should be given every opportunity of seeing and participating in real Masses.

And the age appropriate is the one required for a person to do the thing they are doing adequately. If a person wants to read at Mass then I hardly think it is asking too much if they be expected to do it so that all can hear and understand clearly. Surely good reading and speaking skills are a minimum. If a seven year old is appropriate then there is no reason to bother. We obviously don’t consider these readings of any real importance.

I have to say it has nothing to do with anger at this parish, or some worry that I am too good to receive there. My faith is simply shattered. I cannot consider Communion without confession, and I cannot confess as I honestly have no ability right now to repent of anything. I am depressed, angry and isolated in such a way that I simply cannot approach the Church in any way. At this time there is nothing there for me at all

:eek: Relax!!! Ok. It seems that your main problem here really has NOTHING to do with this particular Mass. Try to take your focus off the circumstances and start studying how you process difficult people and circumstances. Stop looking outside yourself and turn your focus within. Humble yourself before God and pour your heart out to Him…No person or circumstance can make you stay away from God. That is an internal decision on your part, and one you need to nip in the bud. This is between you and God–not the people and priests of the Parish. Practice interior mortification–and if you don’t know what that looks like in this circumstance, then ask the Holy Spirit to teach you…

I guarantee that your children will be much more affected by the way you handle this situation than they will by any wacko orchestrations of the Mass.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love…
Oh Lord, send forth your spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.

“And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against any one; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. and beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity, and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful…” (Colossians 3:12-15)

Unfortunately, I cannot help where I am spiritually. I cannot approach the sacraments as I am impeded, and as long as I do believe I cannot act in any other way. Only when my faith is entirely dead will I be able to do otherwise. I don’t want to affect my children, but I also cannot be pressured to act in a way contrary to what I believe. The more the church bullies me, as I feel I am being bullied right now, the less I can participate in the community around me.

I will tell you something I have noticed, and it strikes me as perhaps ironic. I live in an area with Catholic parishes that are all very similar. We have no “traditional” parishes. All are what I would call “loosy-goosy” in that they are run by groups of very political lay-people, and the priests are all very creative, and very dogmatic about it. They pull teenagers up to sit at the altar during the Eucharistic Prayers. They change prayers that don’t suit them. They insist on certain very non-catholic music. There really is no catholic identity here at all.

And these priests preach every week about how we have to be good witnesses to the faith. They remind us of how important it is that we not give the wrong impression to people to perhaps drive them from the faith. They worry endlessly, and not wrongly IMHO, that our lifestyles or choices or phrases might offend somebody and cause them to apostatise themselves or the like. But, they never think what their actions at the altar may do to believers. They never see that liturgical antics and abuses drive real believers away and it eats at us like a cancer.

That is another interesting aspect of life here. In the past I at one time would mention how I feel about things in my parish. I would say a more traditional Mass may be nice. I would always get the objection that the changes being made were so trivial. Who would be offended by dropping this, or adding that, it is such a small thing? Only a very dogmatic person would allow themselves to be affected by these things. That is what they always say, “allow themselves to be affected…” I am not affected, I “allow” myself to be so. (I wonder why all those people being preached about giving poor witness are not reminded that those people bothered by what they say who turn from the faith were not really affected by them, but only “allowed” themselves to be affected.) But, strangely, if you do ask if one of these trivial changes could be different you are immediately met with the response that doing so would offend people and drive them away. Really? Changing the prayers is only trivial, and only a dogmatic person would object, but changing back is not trivial at all, and the changes must be dogmatically defended. A very interesting understanding of things. Needless to say I have said not a word to a fellow worshipper regarding anything more substantive than the weather in about five years.

Practical advice: make an appointment with the pastor, and no, as much as it is richly needed this is not the time to make your complaint about the planned liturgy. Simply tell him an urgent family matter has come up and your children will not be able to participate at that time. Ask if they can make first communion in the context of a regular Sunday Mass with you at a later date. Almost every parish is willing to do this. Then after First Communion, find your new parish. The time to change was in the beginning of their preparation when you became aware of the shortcomings in their formation, but there is no good to you remaining here now. But time your leaving in a way that does not deprive your child of the sacraments. ps no, you don’t need to inform the pastor that the urgent family matter is your own crisis of faith.

This sounds like a good approach, and I think I will talk to my wife about doing it. Unfortunately there will be no new parish for me, as there is none here that operates any differently. I have driven all over area, as far as my schedule and budget will allow, and I have found nothing significantly different. I am going through the motions at this point, and I hardly think a new environment will help me. I will likely simply follow what my wife desires as she has managed to retain some sense of her faith, and I will just warm the pew. Who knows, maybe God will breathe something into me again one day. Or maybe He won’t.

In any case though, I do appreciate what you have suggested, and I will definitely see about doing that.

My doctoral dissertation was on the growing “consumerism” that permeates our First Communion celebrations. In the survey I conducted, a large number of parents admitted that First Communion was more of a cultural thing than a sacramental celebration. A majority did not attend Mass on a regular basis. Yet, the majority of these parents also want to showcase their children on First Communion Day.

We do not allow pictures (we hire a very discreet photographer and videographer), we don’t allow banners, the kids don’t read the scriptures or sing special songs by themselves. Yet we now have a group of the Catholic school parents who are very upset that “their” First COmmunion Mass is too much like the public school masses and is not “special” enough. They are making quite a noise about it. They want special songs that the kids sing, they want the kids reading, all the siblings who are servers to serve (that would make 10 servers at one mass), and they don’t like the dress code. I blew up at a staff meeting over all this. We gave into the school principal years ago allowing the school to receive at their own Mass (we have 5 First Communion Masses), but this is going too far.

Anyway, First Communion celebrations have lost their focus. It’s more about the kids than about receiving Jesus. We have parishes in our diocese where kids arrive in limos and the dresses cost more than my wedding gown. I say, do it on Sunday, at a regular parish mass, with no extra pomp than necessary. We had 5 kids receive that way this past Sunday at a parish Mass. It was really nice. The families are regular Mass attendees. Since it was the first Sunday of the month when we have a holy hour immediately following Mass, the kids and their parents stayed for a short time and prayed before the exposed Blessed Sacrament.

For 10 years our children had been, with one exception, making their First Communion during a Sunday Mass. The parish Catechetical Coordinator did not believe in having them involved in any of the ministries on that day. They had sat with their families and the family went up to receive together. Photography was discouraged until after Mass.

She resigned last summer.

This year we had children sitting by themselves in the first pew and running back and forth between that pew and their parents.

Although it was at Sunday Mass, the First Reading done by two children from the children’s lectionary. We didn’t even hear the second kid. For some reason, probably related to height, they didn’t use the ambo but a lectern on the other side of the sanctuary. If it was height, there is a little step that I used before they lowered the ambo several years ago.

No second Reading.

Fr. read the Gospel from the children’s lectionary and also from the lectern.

Each of the ten children had an intention to read.

Each of the ten children was in the offertory procession carrying, from what I could gather, a pin that they dropped into Fr.'s hands. Those pins were blessed at the end of Mass and each child was called back to receive his/her pin to thunderous applause.

Each child’s communion took a long time and I finally figured that Fr. was waiting for the pictures to be taken. It became all about the photos and not about who they were receiving.

The photography session & the noise level before and after Mass were unbelievable. Prayer before Mass?? Yeah, right…

But you know what? The comments, except for mine and one other person’s were all “Wasn’t this so much better than before?” Where in this zoo was the idea of the parents as the primary catechists?

I just got back from a liturgy committee meeting and FHC was discussed. Among the songs being planned is “Mary Did You Know”. :eek: I wanted to pretty much scream, but, I will try to see if anything can be done to head it off at the pass. Like I said, it just seems that sacramental liturgies seem to be laboratories of experimenation.

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