Skip Navigation LinksCantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School Parent/Student Handbook > chapter-3-CATHOLIC IDENTITY > section-3-2-Sacraments (First Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation)

​Sacramental Preparation for Reconciliation and the Eucharist

Sacramental preparation for baptized children assumes that the children have​ begun a journey of discipleship: coming to know, believe, and become the person of Jesus in the world. This relationship is strengthened by celebrating God's mercy and forgiveness and the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist.

With a strong belief in lifelong faith formation, a minimum of two consecutive years of catechetical formation is required for the reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist. Although the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist usually occur during elementary school faith formation, readiness, not chronological age or school grade, will determine a child's preparedness to encounter Christ in a sacramental celebration. This decision of readiness rests with the parents/guardians and the child in dialogue with the catechist, the parish priest, and the catechetical leadership of the parish. This process affirms the fact that the child celebrating the sacraments is involved communally as well as individually.

Parents/guardians have a right and duty to be intimately involved in the preparation of their children for the sacraments. It is the role of the parish and the school to help parents/guardians grow in their understanding and appreciation of the sacraments in order to be able to participate readily in catechizing their children.

The Church must affirm the role of parents/guardians as primary religious educators and include the whole parish and school community in the initiation of members into the fullness of the Catholic tradition. The Church must meet people where they are and provide opportunities for conversation and conversion and thus make connections between life and faith. All sacraments are parish-centered celebrations.

6 Preparation Specific to the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Christ's healing and reconciling ministry is carried on in the church. God's unconditional love and mercy is offered though the sacrament of reconciliation. By the sacrament of reconciliation, the faithful express the desire to be at peace with God and with their brothers and sisters. "Catechesis for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is to precede First Communion and must be kept distinct by a clear and unhurried separation" (National Directory for Catechesis, 36.B.2).

Catechesis for the first reception of the sacrament of reconciliation should help children to:

  • Acknowledge God's unconditional love and mercy

  • Turn to Christ and the Church for sacramental forgiveness and reconciliation at any time on their faith journey

  • Recognize the presence of good and evil in the world, recognize ​their personal capacity for both, and develop skill for the discernment of good moral choices

  • Recognize their need for forgiveness, not only from parents/guardians and others close to them, but from God

  • Explore the meaning of the symbols, gestures, prayers, and scriptures of the sacrament of reconciliation

  • Understand how to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation

"Parents and the parish catechetical leader, together with the pastor, are responsible for determining when children are ready to receive First Penance and Reconciliation. Readiness for reception of this sacrament includes knowledge of the person of Jesus and the Gospel message of forgiveness, knowledge of sin and its effect, and understanding and experience of sorrow, forgiveness and conversion….Parents should be involved in the preparation of their children for this sacrament so that they can affirm and reinforce frequent participation in the sacraments. They orient the child toward God and encourage continual growth in the understanding of God's mercy and love….Since conversion is a lifelong process, catechesis for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is ongoing. Children have a right to a fuller catechesis each year" (National Directory for Catechesis, 36.B.2).

7 Preparation Specific to the Sacrament of Eucharist

"Since the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life, catechesis for the Eucharist recognizes it as the heart of Christian life for the whole church" (National Directory for Catechesis, 36).

Catechesis in preparation for the first reception of the Eucharist should:

  • Teach that the Eucharist is the living memorial of Christ's sacrifice for the salvation of all and the commemoration of his last meal with his disciples

  • Teach not only the truths of faith regarding the Eucharist but also how from first Communion on, they as full members of Christ's body can take part actively with the people of God in the Eucharist, sharing in the Lord's table and the community of their brothers and sisters

  • Ensure that the baptized have been prepared, according to their capacity for the sacrament of penance prior to their first Communion

  • Develop in children an understanding of the Father's love, their participation in the sacrifice of Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit

  • Teach that essential signs of the eucharistic sacrament are bread and wine, on which the power of the Holy Spirit is invoked and over which the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken first by Jesus during the Last Supper

  • Teach that the Holy Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ and that what appear to be bread and wine are actually his living body

  • Teach the difference between the Eucharist and ordinary bread

  • Teach the meaning of reception of the Holy Eucharist under both species of bread and wine

  • Help children to participate actively and consciously in the Mass

  • Help children to receive Christ's body and blood in an informed and reverent manner

As with the sacrament of reconciliation, parents/guardians and the parish catechetical leader, together with the pastor, are responsible for determining when children have attained the age of reason and are ready to receive first Communion. "Parents have the right and duty to be involved in preparing their children for first Communion. The catechesis offered should help parents grow in their own understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist and enable them to catechize their children more effectively" (National Directory for Catechesis, 36).

​Children need to be prepared for first Communion with an understanding that they will eat and drink the body and blood of Christ under the forms of bread and wine.​



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