First Holy Communion
At St. Paul's / San Pablo we offer preparation for First Communion as part of our on-going religious education program. For more information please contact the parish office.
A little history about First Holy Communion...
During the first centuries of the Church, all the baptized were admitted to receive Holy Communion - the Holy Sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord. The first time you received the Sacrament was on the day of your baptism. In these years, just to attend the Mass was something dangerous, because in the Roman Empire, to be a Christian was a punishable offense with death penalty. In the 4th century, when Emperor Constantine converted from paganism to Christianity, the persecution of Christians was over, and the Church could open its doors safely, welcoming the whole society.
With this new situation, new problems arrived: before, to be a Christian one had to risk their life - every Christian had to be prepared to die for their Lord. Although, many people started attending the Mass, they also remained members of the pagan cults. They received the Sacrament in the Church every Sunday, and sacrificed to other gods on Monday.
The bishops began to think of ways to end these practices, and to guide Christians to a more complete understanding of the mysteries of the Church. They realized that if the adults received the Sacrament without devotion, it also made them think of the children who still lacked an understanding of the Sacrament.
From this transition, in various parts of the Church, the bishops began to ask that a child had to understand the difference between the Holy Sacrament (a sacred experience) and a normal meal. And at this age, the churches began the custom of doing First Communion services for children between the ages of six or seven.
First Communion became a good thing for the children because it gave them the opportunity to attend classes to understand more of the doctrines of the Church, and to understand the nature of the Holy Sacrament. But on the other hand, from the theological perspective, this practice ignores the fact that the grace of God is not dependent on our understanding, but its grace and a ministry beyond our understanding. The sacraments are never things that we do for God, but things that God does for us.
Now many Episcopal churches hold First Communion that combines the best of both worlds. Infants can receive Holy Communion immediately after their baptism, but when they reach the age of six or seven, special classes of theology of the Eucharist begin - a time of education and reflection on the nature of the Sacrament.