Sacrament of the Eucharist
The Eucharist is the sacrament in which the Christian initiation reaches its culmination; for in and through this sacrament, Christians are fully joined to Christ. “The Eucharist is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life’. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesial ministries and works of the apostolates, are bound up with the Eucharist and are orientated toward it. For in the Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch”. … “In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: ‘Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324 and 1327. Therefore, communities and individuals preparing to celebrate the Eucharist and to receive Holy Communion should be mindful to hold the Blessed Sacrament in highest honor and to reverence the Sacrament with the greatest adoration. Genuflections, respectful silence and other signs of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament are appropriate recognitions of God’s mysterious gift of Christ for us in this Sacrament.
The determination of readiness to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time is a primary responsibility of the pastor as well as the child’s parents and/or guardian(s). They are to see to it that children who have reached the use of reason are correctly prepared for and are nourished by Communion. Traditionally, children are prepared for reception of the Eucharist during second grade in their parish. Children first receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving First Communion.
The regulation for fasting is considered a means of spiritual preparation for receiving the Eucharist and a symbol of reverence for the Sacrament. The Eucharist Fast is limited to one hour before actually receiving the Eucharist. It pertains to solid food and all drinks, except water. Taking medicine does not break the fast. The fast applies to priests who celebrate the Mass and by the faithful, regardless of what time of day the Mass is celebrated and Communion is received. Those who are sick, in hospitals – even if not confined to bed – and those caring for the sick, may receive communion even if they have taken food during the previous hour.