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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Parish experience of the First Communion Preparation
I want to say a few words about the first communion preparation this year.
It is more of a long notice than a sermon but it is about something so important and you could say that it is influenced by the clear message of the readings today that we are sinners who have been forgiven God who loves us so much. And as sinners who have been forgiven we cannot be too hard on others who fail, indeed we have an obligation to support encourage and forgive.
The parish experience is that that a significant number of the children who received Holy Communion last year (and in previous years) and their parents have not continued to join the parish each Sunday to praise God and to receive the wonderful gift of Holy Communion.
The children themselves can't really be blamed; they depend very much on their parents. But even the parents cannot simply be condemned; they are often people whose parents or even grandparents lapsed from practicing the faith years ago. They are just managing to hang on to a few tiny remains of faith.
Reasons for change
After prayer and thought we have come to the conclusion that it is good for parents and children to have the encouragement they need to make Sunday mass part of their weekly lives, an expression of their love of Jesus and a sign of their membership of the Church.
In the end we rely on the parents who are the first teachers of their children in the way of faith. If love of Jesus, prayer and a good life is not taught at home then no school or catechists can make up for what is missing.
But perhaps a regular effort to attend mass will do three things: it will develop the habit of coming to mass and discovering if it is something they can do, it will introduce the families to our Christian community, all of you in different ways can be witnesses to the faith, and most importantly it brings the children and parents into the presence of our Lord, here at Holy Mass, Our Lord who is always calling to us, loving us and longing for us. He will have an influence on all who come.
So inscription into the first communion preparation begins today (inscribe), and I am asking that from today each child who wishes to receive Holy Communion for the first time must attend at least 25 Sunday (or Saturday eve) Masses.
What preparation is required?
This year there are fewer classes for children to attend. There are only nine classes and each of these will be repeated to make it easier to attend. The nine meetings are designed to encourage parents and children by very simply presenting the essentials of our Christian faith. God made us, God loves us, Jesus who is God reveals that love by saving us from sin. We respond by loving Jesus, by prayer and by a good life. We acknowledge the truth of this each week at Mass, and when we fail we know that God who loves us will always forgive us.
Once a child has attended all nine classes and attended Sunday or Saturday evening Mass twenty five times their parents are free to ask Father Farrell to decide if he thinks their child is ready to begin receiving Holy Communion.
First Holy Communion will normally be at the 11am Mass on 17th & 24th June and 1st & 8th July, however parents are free to ask Father Farrell about a different Sunday.
What can we all do to help?
I would also like to ask you to undertake to pray particularly for the children and their parents this year. Please make it a regular intention. In a few weeks I might ask if some of you would be kind enough to undertake to pray for a particular child.