Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review This! Celebrations of Holy Communion and Confirmation

Introduction:

Have you ever been invited to a celebration of Faith?  I'd like to take you on a journey to Review two of the most important sacraments in a Catholic child's faith journey.  You may be invited to share in this celebration and this "Review This" is to help you recognize the celebration as well as appropriate gifts to mark this important occasion.

Holy Communion and Confirmation, What are they?


Late March, April, and May are traditional months for Catholics to Celebrate the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation.  

For many families,  it will be a time of fellowship not only with their church community but also with parents and grandparents, who will be pleased to see their children growing in their spiritual formation.



Catholic children around the age of eight or nine will begin to learn about the sacrament of  Holy Communion.  They will learn about the meaning behind the sacrament and all the symbolism that is contained within the celebration of Mass every week.

They will learn about Jesus, his life,  his death and his Ressurrection, and the promise to return again.  They will also learn that Jesus loves them in a way that is beyond comprehension. For Adult Catholics it's a time to remember and relive the beauty of receiving Communion for the first time ever.  It's also a great time to help our youngsters learn to live the Gospels, to live the way we were taught by the actions and the life of Jesus.  It is also a time to explain to our children that living as Christians is not an easy task.  That they will work at being good Christians every day of their lives, and that it should be a life lived in Joy!

 

What is the purpose of the Sacraments?


Jesus loves each one of us, just the way we are!  We need to learn how to love everyone in the same way. That is what we are called to do if we want to live truly Christian lives.  We will fail many times, and that's when Communion becomes especially important.  We come back to God, asking for His strength and His courage to become more and more like Him.  We need that courage and strength so that we can look at all of our brothers and sisters with the same loving eyes that our God sees them.  It's not easy to do, but with the sacraments that continue to nourish our souls, we will gain that strength that we need.

Children are such wonderful examples for us! As we get older, we tend to become more jaded. Our many disappointments in life sometimes take their toll on our spirits.  That is why it's important for us to help our children.  In helping them to celebrate these milestones, we are reminded of God's love for us too.  Even though we are grown up in mind and body, we are still children of the Almighty and he loves us as a Perfect Father would.  Sharing the sacraments with our children helps us to remember what we are called to do as followers of Christ!


Confirmation, Growth in the Spirit of God


The Sacrament of Confirmation is done when the children are a little older.  Children are usually about 12 or 13 years of age. This sacrament mirrors the Jewish Bar/Bat/Mitzvah (when the young people are seen as old enough to read the Scriptures). After all, Christianity has its roots in the Jewish Faith, so this is the Catholic sacrament of a "coming of age".  Our children are now seen as old enough to accept the faith that we have kindled in them through their younger years. It is time for them to decide for themselves, that this is the faith that they will accept for their lives.   Parents accepted the duty to teach their children the faith when they were Baptized. Now, at this time in their lives,  they stand on their own two feet and accept the faith for themselves.  Many people wonder about the taking on of a saint's name as part of this celebration.  Let me explain, children who are on their way to making their Confirmation are encouraged to look to the Saints who have lived a good Christian life.  They take on the name of a Saint that they admire for the way they lived their lives and hopefully will follow in that saint's example on their own journey of faith.


As with any faith celebration,  gifts are usually given to mark this day as a special time in their lives. Appropriate gifts would include a Bible, Prayer Book, Books on the Lives of Saints or Leaders in the Church.  Books that make the young person think about their lives and direction.   There are many really good books that are not "religious" but make the young mind expand in ways that will benefit them. Philosophy books that are great for the soul and make young minds question their lives and their beliefs will hopefully make them grow in their faith journey.  After all, it is a journey that will last for the rest of their lives. We shouldn't stop growing in our faith life, just because we are out of school.  It should be a journey that lasts a long, long time.


Being a Christian is hard work in our everyday world. Encouraging our children to look beyond themselves for guidance is a wonderful way for them to grow in ways that are more than physical. I truly believe that we are spiritual as well as physical. If the religious type of gift suggestions are not to your liking, the books by Chesterton or C.S. Lewis are great books for anyone to read. You don't have to be Christian or Catholic to get something out of them. They are classic reading for everyone.

My hope is that this Review will help you if you should ever find yourself invited to a celebration of faith for someone you care about.  Please bookmark this Review so that when your invitation arrives, you will be prepared to help the child celebrate His/Her growth in the Spirit of Christ.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

13 comments:

  1. Good suggestions for gifts for religious occasions. Thanks for explaining some of these occasions, Olivia.

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  2. The pleasure was mine Pat. I know many people who have been invited to these celebrations that have no idea what they are about, so I wanted to explain just briefly. There is much more to the sacraments than I wrote about here, but it's the basics.

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  3. As a Christian, I am certainly family with Communion. However, since I am not Catholic, I am not as well versed in those traditions and certainly not with appropriate gifts. It does help to have a source of information and recommended gifts when needed. Actually, until today, it never occurred to me to give a gift for confirmation. Good timing too since we have a niece who will most likely be confirmed in the next year or so. Thanks for the heads up and recommendations. Now, I can avoid the awkwardness of ignorance.

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    1. It is difficult to know what the "proper" gift would be for these milestones in a child's life. Many people give monetary gifts, and I don't say that they shouldn't, but my own personal preference is to keep the celebration a "spiritual" celebration and not a monetary winfall. Any of the gifts would be appropriate for any Christian celebration. Glad you found it interesting and it filled a need for you.

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  4. Reading this brings back fond memories of my First Holly Communion and my Confirmation. Olivia you have explained these Sacraments so well, so that other people may understand their meaning. These gifts you have chosen are wonderful and so appropriate. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you Sam. My faith as a Catholic is very important to me and the beauty of the faith is not as well understood in current days. It is unfortunate and I try to encourage people to explore the faith that their parents are trying to instill in them. Many times in my life, it has been my faith that has gotten me through many a difficult time. Our children really need this way to help them in the difficulties of life today and everyday. Thank you for your kind words.

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  5. Olivia, you did a wonderful job taking some of the mystery out of the meaning (and importance) of First Holy Communion and Confirmation for those of us who are not Catholic. Thank you!

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    1. You are welcome Susan I am so glad you found this to be of value. Many Christian denominations have some form of these sacraments, not just the Catholics. After all, most of the Christian denominations have their foundations in the Catholic faith in history. We have all come from the same root, that of the Life and Death and Ressurection of Jesus Christ.

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  6. Olivia, beautiful - raised a Catholic and have gone through all the steps, Mom went to a Convent to go to school for goodness sakes, lol (some funny stories about from her) - I went to Catholic school and all my boys did/do. My youngest is still in School, grade 11, Catholic School. So it's been a very big part of our lives. My boys had to wear uniforms though in high school, something I never had to do - As the mom of a child who wears a uniform to school, I support it now. Makes things a little easier. We've all been through first communion here and of course Confirmation as well. I can't imagine living any other way than with all these traditions.

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    1. Thank you Barbara, I was raised a Catholic too, but must tell you that being a cradle Catholic sometimes is a shortcoming. I did not really start to explore my faith until 2006 when my other half wanted to do more with his faith. We entered into a four year study program for the Permanent Diaconate here in Toronto. My husband is an ordained minister and through the studies we had for those years, the beauty of my faith really came to life. I can even say I have a diploma in Theology (I never did go to college or university). Those studies have brought me to the understanding that our young people really do need to explore their faith more. Ask the questions and look for the answers.....they are there!

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  7. I was not raised in the Catholic faith but converted when I was an adult. As I'm sure you know, the process is a little different for adults. I received the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation in the same evening. It was one of the most remarkable evenings of my lifetime. Many of the gifts you mention would be appropriate for an adult, too.

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  8. Dear Bev, yes the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) is a whole different way of becoming Catholic. My husband and I are involved in the RCIA at our parish and it is such a beautiful evening on Easter Vigil to see those who want to become Catholic make their Baptism and Holy Communion and Confirmation. The "joy" is overwhelming and beautiful. You are right, any of the gifts would be appropriate for an adult as well. Although I would have listed more books to keep the spirit growing.....

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  9. This should be very helpful for anyone invited to share in these religious celebrations. For non-Catholics it's especially helpful, because it also helps them understand the meaning of the celebrations. When I worked in a Christian bookstore, we carried many of the Precious Moments items, and lots of the jewelry. We even made a trip to a monastary to pick up jewelry the monks had made for resale. Our gift buyer was Catholic. I think Chesterton and C.S. Lewis books are very helpful in growing one's faith -- even for us Protestants. These are very meaningful gift suggestions.

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