I have not yet written about preparing our daughter for First Communion, even though it is coming up this April. I think that's because well... it's two-fold. For one, it really didn't occur to me to write about it until just recently. And second, because I know I'm gonna cry if and when I do it. When I went to God in prayer about it, I really felt him saying, "You must first prepare yourself. You can't tell her anything until your heart is in the right place, and not until you are ready and happily willing to get down on her level and share your heart with her." And that has made me emotional a time or two.
I have gotten as far as shopping minimally for her First Holy Communion dress. But it is too much pressure. My Mom has even helped me (!!!!) by giving me pointers for where to look. But so far, I have looked at a childrens boutique located inside an Antique Mall (Grandma Heaven), and on Amazon.com. After I look at my favorite regular consignment shop, I have heard of only one more place I want to check. I did put some white shoes in her size on my wishlist on Amazon. So. Ha. ;) Soon, I'll be done. Go me. ;)
But other than getting her white dress and some white shoes for this season, I want to talk today about what I am doing to prepare her for her First Communion spiritually.
I posted Prayers to Know as a Catholic Family (with a free printable) one year ago.-->
Prayer as you say the sign of the cross
Hail Mary prayer
Hail Holy Queen
Ecce Agnus Dei
Act of Contrition
St. Andrew Novena Prayer
St. Michael the Archangel Prayer
I think the question I would have for myself one year ago would be: "Ok, so what does that look like?" So in this post I will attempt to answer that question.
1. Prepare Myself.
In order to prepare those around us for their First Communion, we need to prepare ourselves to prepare them. Pray. Obviously I should know the above prayers and teach them to my children. But also... pray for spiritual guidance. Read spiritually mature books. ;) Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberley Hahn is a great place to start if you haven't read it, or, if you are unfamiliar with the Hahns' story. It is a really beautiful book, chock full of lessons, and in my experience, promptings from the Holy Spirit. The rosary is a powerful prayer and it will humble you, and it will help you to teach it to your kids. A devotional book that I am so in love with is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.
2. Have good conversations with her.
This goes without saying, but you really can get deep and meaty with an eight-year-old. And so you should! I bought a DVD "Brother Francis and the Rosary." It is touching and sweet, and it will impact your child. Watch it, and then talk about it. This is just one example. Have a crucifix on the wall of your child's bedroom. This is another thing you can do. Talk about why it is there. Then, pray for her, and then, let her know that you're praying and why. You are praying that she become a Someday Saint! So pray hard! ;)
3. Teach her the prayers and the vocabulary of the Church.
As a convert, I'm struggling to catch up. But I will do my best through what I know and her CCD classes to make sure she knows what is going on in Mass. (What is a chalice, a host, a chasuble?) Formal catechesis is invaluable. There are also many books available on the market, and through good, solid trusted Catholic publishers that will teach these things to your child. I am going to give this to my daughter as a gift, since we haven't previously bought it. I know my other children will enjoy it as well! And I will pray that she catches up as soon as she can, without pushing her or pressuring her too hard! ;) What do I mean by this- not pressuring her? Recently while we were in Mass, I frowned and whispered in her ear: "You must kneel down, or you won't be ready for your First Communion." She started crying, and scooted down the pew, as far as she could get away from me! Not only did it embarrass me, it scared (scarred?) her. So the next week, I simply smiled in her direction and said, "Kneel down!" And she did, without any questions (!!!).
4. Talk to her about how this does and will impact her soul.
In receiving Christ through the experience of the liturgy, her heart is joined to Heaven. We learn in Scripture that this is the same liturgy of Heaven. Wow! No wonder we are kneeling down!!!! We *are* in his presence at Mass! She will then have the grace and power in her own heart to know what to do and say through the grace of the Eucharist. Talk to her also about her First Reconciliation. There are a whole lot of resources out there for talking about Reconciliation and preparing kids for it.;)
5. Talk about special moments in the Scriptures with her.
Does she know the story of the man Nicodemus, who said, "How shall I be born again?" She can experience this lifting of her soul unto the highest heights of Heaven, she is redeemed through the Sacraments of Peace ~ Eucharist and Reconciliation with her Divine Maker. When praying the Rosary, are there any Scripture passages she is unfamiliar with? In praying the Joyful Mysteries recently, I felt prompted to explain to her the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. This helped her understand the importance of Mass and the Church building, as well as giving her a window into Jesus' world as a baby/young child. ;)
6. Teach her to be sensitive to the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit in her life.
We read and discuss the Catechism at dinner. Stephen often pulls it up on his iPhone and he tests the memory skills of our children. Inn addition to examining their conscience, it will prompt your child to pray for Jesus to purify their hearts. Your child preparing for First Holy Communion should have her own prayer life. She should pray at Mass, at mealtime, and at bedtime, if not more. Salvation from sins may culminate in Confirmation, but it should start with a healthy prayer life at home. She needs to "hear the Word and obey it," and she should know the verse, "My sheep hear my voice...and I know them... and they follow me." (John 10:27). Try putting a chalkboard or chalkboard paint somewhere for writing verses on, for the ultimate goal of Bible Memory. My family grew up with Bible verses written on cards in a little bowl in the middle of the kitchen table: another great way to learn verses and hide them in your heart!
7. Teach her peace, love, and joy (and all of the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit) by modeling it for her.
She learns her holiness from you, and she learns it from the Spirit inside of her. There might come a time in her life that she endures mocking and taunting from the clucking tongues of those people around her, who may harbor in their hearts jealousy or outrage against her, or her faith/good works. She must have an inner peace and an inner joy that surpasses those moments, and her own understanding, in order to stay strong against the temptations of the devil. God's power as manifested through David (We sing a song in our house, and it goes :
"Only a boy named David, only a little sling, only a boy named David, but he could pray and sing... only a boy named David, only a rippling brook, only a boy named David, but five little stones he took, and one little stone went into the sling and the sling went round and round... and hit that giant in the head, and the giant came tumbling down!")
and then through his Son who comes in Glory and Power.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant
Adding my link to 7QT