First communions and today's generation of parents

We have over 50 first communions in the parish each year so we divide the group into three and have Mass on three consecutive Saturdays. The Church is full for each but not too uncomfortably full. One problem for parish priests is that many people come for the occasion who do not come to Church regularly. Here is the set of "Monitions" in this year's revised version:
The parish of Our Lady of the Rosary offers a warm welcome to all our visitors and guests for the celebration of the first Holy Communion Mass.

The children have been working very hard to prepare for this great day. Please help them to receive this Most Holy Sacrament in a spirit of prayer and recollection by preserving the dignity and solemnity of this sacred occasion. In particular, you are kindly asked to observe the following:

Please switch off your mobile phone
Do “double check” just before Mass just in case you have forgotten.

Please do not talk during the Mass
The Church is a “sacred space”. We believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the tabernacle (that is fundamental to today’s celebration.) Therefore it is not appropriate to talk during the Mass except, if necessary, in a whisper. People sometimes forget this during the collection and during the distribution of Holy Communion. Please do take extra care to be silent during the whole time that Communion is given out.

Please do not take photos or videos during Mass
Because of the large number of people who would like to take photographs, it would spoil the occasion if everyone took photos or videos during the Mass. After Mass, a professional photographer will be on hand and you are welcome to take your own photos inside the Church or outside in the grounds.

Please be reverent at Holy Communion
To receive Holy Communion, you should be a practising Catholic and in a state of grace (living in accord with the Church’s teaching and free from serious sin.)
If you are receiving Communion today, please do so with reverence. In particular, you must consume the sacred host before you stand or leave the altar rail.

If you do not come to Mass every Sunday, and have not been to confession in preparation for receiving Communion today, you should not come up to Communion but make a “spiritual communion” instead (see page 7 - where a Spiritual Communion prayer is provided).

If you are a non-Catholic Christian and communicate in your own Church, you are welcome to come for a blessing. Please indicate this by crossing your arms across your chest.
These "Monitions" are published in the booklet provided for the people and I run through them before vesting for Mass.

At yesterday's Mass, the people participated very reverently and there was quiet all through the Mass (apart from one or two babies and I made it clear that we don't mind about that.) It made for a most reverent occasion and was very much appreciated by the families. I do love the first Communion Masses and delight in the privilege accorded to the parish priest of giving children their first Holy Communion.

In the afternoon, I went to join a group of eight families who had hired the "Old Dartfordians" rugby club for a reception - along with the now obligatory "bouncy castle". I was talking to one of the fathers, a non-Catholic, who was very politely comparing the Mass with one he had recently attended elsewhere. He said that he did not really know the right way to put it but that ours was more "professional". I suggested to him that "traditional" might be the right word. Our Mass is in English in the new rite but I was referring to the fact that the hymns at communion were Jesus Thou art Coming, O Bread of Heaven, and Soul of my Saviour, the children kneel for communion at the altar rails and are instructed to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. Basically, there is no messing about.

His response was interesting. He said "Oh no, the people at the other Church were all much older. At your Church, they were all young families." People still naturally associate "traditional" with an older generation. Increasingly, I find that the older generation, those who lived the excitement of the aggiornamento, are lovingly attached to "modern hymns" (i.e. songs made popular 30 years ago), receiving communion in the hand, and the priest "facing the people". The present generation of young parents who do come to Church recognise something precious in the tradition, think that kneeling for communion is obviously better, and would be quite taken with the idea of an Eastward-facing celebration if it were properly explained.

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