My niece who is 13 years old started going to mass with my grandma and has been receiving communion without having a first holy communion ceremony. She has been to confession regularly and is obviously a practicing catholic. Is it ok to not have an official first communion and receive communion if she is in a state of grace otherwise? I hope I described this well, let me know if I didn’t.
Suppose she was on a sinking ship. Communion was offered. What to do? No question!
First communion is normally recognized for the great spiritual event that it is. Yet, the reception of communion in a state of grace is far greater than any human celebration. It transcends our understanding.
While it might be lamentable to have no such celebration, there is joy in heaven for she has (I will assume humbly and the state of grace) received the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
Certainly no expert here though.
First Communion is a special occasion, but as a sacrament, isn’t any more “special” than one’s second communion or third communion or ten thousandth communion. Furthermore, receiving one’s First Communion doesn’t have an effect on one’s canonical status in the Church, the way baptism, confirmation, marriage, or holy orders would, so it’s not as if “First Communion” is some kind of prerequisite to one’s status as a “communicant.” It’s just the first one, and while it’s a happy occasion, it’s not really an “official” ceremony in the sense of having some kind of legal effect on one’s status. There’s nothing wrong with her continuing to receive Holy Communion–one can’t well have a “First Communion” if he’s already received dozens of times before.
When I was a kid, I never received any sacraments after Baptism. When I went to the Church to ask to receive them as an adult, I had a talk with the priest and he told me I could start receiving the Eucharist at the next Mass. There was no special “first communion”, since I was already an adult.
What to focus on next is the Sacrament of Confirmation. Done with proper preparation and state of mind, it is huge.
Heck, it’s huge anyway!
I don’t know if I failed to understand the OP correctly, because from what I understand, I do not agree with the previous responses.
Communion (Holy Eucharist) is a sacrament. You cannot just invite yourself to any sacrament and receive it.
What I understand from the OP is that little niece started going for Communion without being admitted to the reception of the sacrament. When OP talks about celebration of first communion, I don’t think it was referring to an after mass party, rather I think it meant that first time a person is admitted to Communion (in some places the kids wear white)
If my understanding is correct, then it is very wrong to just piously decide on your own that it is time to start receiving Communion, and then go to church and receive Him.
Please to avoid grave sins (negligence), it is better to confirm from your parish priest if our responses seem to not resonate with the reality.
God bless you.
I thought that the Eucharist was a Sacrament of initiation so I would have imagined that there may be some change in your canonical status when you receive him for the first time.
The first time she received the Eucharist “WAS” her first communion!
Not in the strictly legal sense, no. To receive Holy Communion does not impart an indelible character the way the other two sacraments of initiation and that of Holy Orders do. There isn’t a class of persons under Canon Law “communicants” or “non-communicants,” the way there is “ordained” and “lay,” or “married” and “unmarried.” In fact, it should be that Confirmation and its indelible character as the seal of baptismal grace are the prerequisite for admission to communion, i.e. only those who have been confirmed should be admitted to communion. The obscuring of this reality is largely thanks to the fact that we’ve put the sacraments out of order (except for adult converts) and then made First Communion a “thing” in the western Church.
I’d assume the law doesn’t see a situation where someone may be confirmed without having received Holy Communion, or without it being very close.
Imagine there is a person who cannot tolerate either species of the Eucharist and for that reason has never received Holy Communion and cannot but has been baptized and confirmed, could they be a sponsor?
I wasn’t thinking of a status like communicants and non communicants so much as fully initiated and not fully initiated.
Yes, buts it’s the last sacrament of initiation, and the one that is repeated. Just baptism and confirmation make that singular mark on one’s soul.
Sorry father, should have read replies before I typed. Your reply makes more sense.
It is very easy to envision someone who has been confirmed, but not received Communion. In the Latin Church, there are a variety of circumstances under which infants and young children can be given Confirmation.
Canons 912-914 may be helpful, at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P39.HTM . It seems to me that the Parish Priest, the pastor, should be involved in the decision about when a child receives First Communion.
I’m with you. It’s not “obvious” to me as the OP states that the niece is an initiated Catholic at all. No mention of baptism or any profession of faith, just that she started going to Mass, receiving Communion, and going to Confession at 13. There are some missing pieces - either details of this story or steps in her joining the Church.
Sorry I should have mentioned that, she was baptized.
I’m not sure if the Latin Church has a particular “rule” about having an official first communion. We Byzantines commune our infants right after baptism and chrismation (confirmation), all in one liturgical setting.
Well then as Father posted earlier, it’s okay that she’s going to communion.
There really isn’t a “first communion ceremony”.
For many children, they all receive at a specific mass and wear special garments. But that isn’t in any liturgical rubrics nor is it in any way necessary.
First communion is simply the first time you receive communion. So, yes, she did have a first communion.
My second oldest son was confirmed and then received first Eucharist perhaps 8 months later when Archbishop Aquila restored the order of the sacraments. I seem to remember one of my wife’s great grandparents had a 2 or 3 year separation between confirmation and first Eucharist (something like 12 for confirmation and 14 or 15 for first communion). Before Pius X promulgated Quam Singulari it was fairly common to have a large gap of time between confirmation and first Eucharist as I understand.
As Father said though, canon law does not really consider the reception of first Eucharist as impacting ones canonical status. Baptism, confirmation, marriage, ordination and religious profession are the only things that are specifically called out as being required to be recorded in parish registers. Even though many parishes do record first Eucharist there is no canonical mandate to do so.