The Lord Jesus, becoming bread broken for us pours out all his mercy and love on us,
so as to renew our hearts, our existence and our way of relating to Him and to our brothers and sisters. This is why, when we approach this sacrament, we commonly say "receiving communion",
we say "receive communion", "make communion". (Pope Francis)
We commonly say "the Mass" to designate the central rite of the Catholic liturgy. We also say "Eucharist", a word taken from the Greek meaning "thanksgiving". Sometimes it is simply called "communion," which refers both to the act of eating the consecrated bread and to the fruit of that act that unites us in the Holy Spirit to the Lord Jesus and to our brothers and sisters in the Christian community.
Whatever the title, this great sacrament recalls Jesus' last meal with his apostles when, on the evening before he died, he shared the bread and wine, telling them that it was his body and blood. He then invited them to repeat this gesture as a memorial of the gift of himself he would make the next day on the Cross. Our Mass, then, is not only a way of reminding us of what Jesus did; it re-presents the great gesture of love he made on the Cross, making it present to us today. It is rightly said of this sacrament that it is "the source and summit of the Church's life and mission".
Normally, we receive communion within the celebration of the Mass, as we do as Jesus did the night before he died: we take the bread and wine (the preparation of the offerings), we give thanks (the Eucharistic prayer), we break the bread (the Lamb of God) and we share it (communion).
The first communion takes on a very special meaning. It is the first encounter with the Lord Jesus in the Bread of Life, the first full participation in the community celebration of the Eucharist.
For older children, young people and adults who ask for baptism, First Communion will be integrated with Confirmation in the celebration of the whole set of sacraments of Christian initiation. First Communion will mark the culmination of this celebration. For youth and adults, you will find information on the RCIA here. For older children, information on the RICE can be found here.
Those who were baptized in infancy are invited to come forward for First Communion at the age of eight. The Christian community will help them prepare for this by following a catechetical process that will open them to the meaning of this sacrament, by organizing a beautiful, festive and meaningful celebration, and by inviting them to make the celebration of the Eucharist a regular practice in their lives.
N.B. It happens more and more often that young people and adults, baptized in infancy, have never completed their Christian initiation by taking communion for the first time. Normally, this first communion will be integrated into the celebration of confirmation. When registering for Confirmation, please let the leaders know that you also wish to make your First Communion.
Sometimes communion can be received outside of the celebration, for example, as part of a Liturgy of the Word on Sunday when no priest is available to preside at the Eucharist. In this case, a Sunday Assembly awaiting the celebration of the Eucharist (ADACE) is organized to listen to the Word of God and to pray together. Communion may then be distributed with consecrated bread at another Mass.
Sometimes communion can be received at home or in the hospital when our living conditions do not allow us to go to church. A priest, a deacon or an extraordinary minister of communion can then bring us the Eucharist. All we have to do is ask.
Finally, a special prayer practice has developed over the centuries centered on the consecrated bread. This prayer is called "Eucharistic adoration". Believing that Christ himself is present in this consecrated bread, the faithful gather in his presence to praise him, pray to him, ask his forgiveness, and contemplate him. A religious community is dedicated to this service: the Servants of Jesus Mary. One can go to their chapel every day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. to pray with them in silence. Several parishes organize regular times of Eucharistic adoration. Contact your parish for more information.