Has the meaning of First Holy Communion been lost in the financial cost?
As shops advertise, ‘twirling dresses and well-tailored suits with the perfect accessories to match as well as everything you need for your little one’s big day’, many parents will feel the financial pressure of preparing their child for First Holy Communion. Between an outfit for the child, outfits for the rest of the family, entertainment for the children afterwards and other costs, parents are spending a lot of money on their child’s Communion day. Is it time to think if the meaning of what is really happening is being lost in the cost?
According to a survey of parents by the Ulster Bank, 41% of them said there is pressure to spend as much money on the day as other parents do. The children themselves, meanwhile received an average of £500 in gifts for their First Holy Communion and a quarter of children received more than £700. On average, girls received more than boys! Over six in ten parents think that their child received too much money. The presents, the dresses, the suits, the party may signal a big day for all the family but it should never dilute the meaning of the Sacrament the children are about to receive.
The gift from a parent to their children is much more than providers of an endless supply of ‘wants’. Pope Francis acknowledges the home as the most important and significant place, where the faith of our children is nurtured, nourished and sustained. The family is the place where parents become their children’s first teachers in the faith. According to Pope Francis in Amoris Laetita, The joy of love, ‘They learn this ‘trade’ passing it down from one person to another’. So the best preparation for the Eucharist is not ‘saying yes to the dress!’ or organising a lavish party. Even though families getting together to ‘break bread’ on this day is very important but so is taking your child to Mass regularly and helping your child understand what it is all about. At this stage schools and the parish community have put a lot of effort into the preparation programme for children preparing for First Communion but there are things that families can do at home. Here are some suggestions.
- Create a prayer space in your child’s bedroom using religious articles such as a cross/crucifix, holy water etc. At this time of the year you could even create a May Altar with them.
- Place a holy water font at the door and get the whole family into the habit of blessing themselves as they leave the house.Do acts of kindness with your child, such as donating their good quality toys and clothes to a local charity shop.
- Make the Sign of the Cross when you pass a church. Visit the church at a quiet time and chat to your child about what they see. Looking at the Stained glass window may give your inspiration.
- Bring your child to Mass and let them see you pray. Family is where the seed of faith is sown.
- Pray simple prayers such as the Grace Before/After Meals and the Our Father/Hail Mary as a family.
Our parish community is a ‘family of families’, all living in different circumstances and situations. Along with the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a child’s first celebration of Holy Communion is a very important moment in the life of our parish community. They are events that happen to the community not just in our community and we congratulate the 260 children in our parish, their families and their teachers as they make their final preparations for the Sacrament of First Holy Communion.