At the Last Supper, on the night before he died for us, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and entrusted to the Apostles its celebration throughout the centuries. Even today at the celebration of the Lord's Supper (more commonly referred to as the Mass), the Risen Jesus is truly present in the readings from the Bible, in the group of assembled people, and in the consecrated bread and wine. In some beautifully mysterious way, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the ordinary bread and wine become the real presence of Jesus, in a form which we can consume. It becomes a spiritual food that nourishes our spirit, soul and body.
Jesus' presence in the Eucharistic celebration is one of the most sublime mysteries of the universe. The most intimate moment of the Eucharistic celebration is the reception of Holy Communion. God comes to us in the simple form of bread and wine so that he can continue to nourish us, drawing us spiritually closer to him and to our neighbor.
First Holy Communion
Catholics typically receive their First Holy Communion in 3rd grade, or at the time of their baptism (if older than 7 years). As with other sacraments, the diocese requires that students attend religious education classes for two years in preparation for receiving the sacrament. Students must have attended religious education classes through all of 2nd grade and through 3rd grade in order to be eligible to receive First Holy Communion. Parents are also expected to attend sacrament preparation classes with their child.
Reception of Communion
Catholics are obligated to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass) every weekend and on holy days of obligation. All Catholics who are regularly attending Mass, have fasted for an hour, and are in a state of grace (not aware of any mortal sin) are encouraged to approach the altar during the distribution of Holy Communion. Reception of the Eucharist is the most intimate expression of our faith and is both a visible sign and means of communion not only with Jesus Christ, but also communion with the whole Catholic Church. Therefore, our brothers and sisters of other faiths or Catholics not yet fully prepared to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament are invited to come forward to receive a blessing at this time if they so choose. The desire to do so may be indicated by crossing your arms over your chest.