The first Communion is one of the seven sacraments that every believer is called to receive in their life as a Christian. It is considered one of the most important and precious as it celebrates the union between the faithful and the body of Jesus. And during the service, there are five main symbols of First Communion that we will learn by reading this article.
For the first time, the believer receives the Holy Eucharist and can begin to participate fully in the celebration of Mass. It is a unique event for young believers after a journey of preparation and awareness for the whole family. Communion is a day of celebration to be appropriately celebrated and remembered, and kept in one’s heart. Today we want to talk to you about the symbols that characterize the celebration of Communion.
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First Communion: an event of joy for the whole family
First Communion represents the moment in which young people but also faithful in adulthood approach the sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time. This moment is preceded by a catechism course that helps the person acquire the necessary awareness. To live the sacrament correctly. It is a moment of great joy and celebration. They were awaited both by children and families. That’s why it should be appropriately celebrated with walls. And dear friends who will remember this moment for a lifetime.
According to the Christian tradition, up until the pontificate of Pope Pius X, First Communion was professed to young people between the ages of twelve and fourteen. At this age, the period of catechism generally ended. And it was believed that the young faithful had acquired a sufficiently mature knowledge of Christian doctrine. Subsequently, in 1910, with the decree Quam singular, the Congregation of Rites lowered the age to seven years. Thought that profound knowledge of all the doctrines was not necessary to consider the sacrament valid. What matters is having reached the age of discretion. To distinguish the Eucharist. And therefore, the Body of Christ, from the standard bread.
Even today, children who reach the age between seven and nine prepare for this important milestone. By discovering the meaning of the Eucharist and the symbols that accompany the sacrament. In particular, there are five symbols of Communion.
1. The chalice
The chalice is the most significant symbol of The First Communion in the liturgy. It is no coincidence that it is used to contain wine, the sacred symbol that represents the blood of Jesus. The faithful can access redemption, salvation, and the kingdom of God thanks to wine. When it comes to the moment of the Eucharist during Mass, the priest offers God the wine in the chalice to allow him to perform the mystery. And the miracle of transformation during the rite. After holding the chalice aloft, the priest mixes the wine with a few drops of water to symbolize the union of the faithful with Jesus.
It isn’t easy to understand the importance of the chalice in the symbolism of the first Communion. Mainly receives the sacrament when one is still very young. Despite this, children can experience this event as the highlight of the Christian liturgy.
It is a time of profound maturity and significant participation, which can be understood as a kind of entry into the faithful community. This is why the chalice is often stylized or depicted on the Mass booklets used during the celebration of First Communion and on invitations, favors, and greeting cards.
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2. The Eucharist
The Eucharist represents for the Christian the most important sacrament of the celebration. According to the Catholic liturgy, Communion was instituted by Jesus during the Last Supper with the twelve Apostles. After the supper, Jesus was betrayed and lived his passion, death, and resurrection. The Eucharist is Jesus Christ, and it is present as body, blood, and divinity in the instruments that maintain their characteristics, the bread, and the wine. This miracle is called transubstantiation and refers to the change of bread and wine beyond substance, that is, beyond physical appearance.
3. Bread and wine
After understanding the true meaning of the Eucharist, it is easier to understand why bread and wine can be considered symbols so closely linked to First Communion. Bread and wine are the staple food in most cultures. And these are the first foods man prepares, the result of work in the fields. Cultivating and harvesting wheat and taking care of the vines are among the most ancient human activities. And represent the life given by the earth itself. The symbolic gesture of offering God bread allows the community to thank him for giving us what nourishes and gives us life. Thus also, the wine, with its red color, recalls blood. It perfectly symbolizes the idea of the sacrifice made by Jesus to save all humanity.
During the celebration of the Holy Mass, the bread and wine are brought to the altar in the offertory as the symbols of First Communion. The priest accepts the offering to consecrate it to God during the Eucharist. When First Communion is celebrated, children are called to bring bread and wine to the altar to represent the rite they are about to face.
This is why the chalice and the ear of wheat, or the loaf, are among the most used images to symbolize the First Communion.
4. The fish
The fish is considered one of the oldest Christian symbols that have come down to us. We can often see it depicted in paintings and sculptures, especially funerary inscriptions. They date back to the persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire. The reason this symbology was used is simple. Because of the persecutions, the followers of Jesus needed to use signs of recognition to indicate belonging to the community. Without arousing suspicion.
If a Christian met a foreigner and wanted to discover his loyalty, it was enough for him to draw one of the arches that make up the ichthýs, or the fish. If the stranger completed the sign, the two individuals recognized themselves as followers of Jesus. And knew they could trust each other.
5. The dove
The dove in the Catholic religion represents numerous meanings, but we recognize purity and simplicity among the main ones. In reality, many others appear in biblical texts, even if these are the most widespread in the Christian imagination.
For example, the Book of Genesis tells the story of Noah and the flood that engulfed the whole earth for forty days and nights. Before the water disappeared, Noah flew a crow that never came back. Instead, he passed a dove, bringing about the ” olive branch ” to represent that the flood was now over. Instead, the New Testament speaks of the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit who descends on Jesus during the Baptism celebrated by John the Baptist. Also, the dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles. The difference is that when it appeared, it presented as tongues of fire that landed on the heads of the apostles and the Christian people.
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These are just some of the main symbols of Communion. It is essential to get to know them to live the celebration of the Eucharist in the right way, especially when facing the path that leads the young Christian to the sacrament.