About the Sacrament of Penance
According to St. Paul, “I mean that God, in Christ, was reconciling the world to himself.” The message of God’s unfailing love is expressed in all sacraments of the Church, and especially in the sacrament of His forgiveness for sinfulness. The gift of forgiveness from God is available to all who have sincere sorrow and desire to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (S. 295)
About the Sacrament of the Eucharist
The self-gift of Jesus in the Eucharist calls upon all Christians to reverence the sacramental presence of the Lord and to welcome Him frequently into their lives. In the Eucharistic assembly Jesus fulfills his promise to be with those who are gathered in His name. The celebrant is the visible signs of His presence as High Priest of the New Covenant. In the Scripture readings the Lord speak to us. “Through the hands of the priest and in the name of the whole Church, the Lord’s sacrifice is offered in the Eucharist in an un-bloody and sacramental manner until He Himself returns.” For their part, the faithful join in the offering of the Eucharist by virtue of their royal priesthood. (S. 294)
Sacramental Preparation Program:
- Starting as early as 1st Grade, the First Penance & First Communion Preparation program helps prepare students for both their First Reconciliation and their First Communion.
- Sacramental preparation encompasses two (2) consecutive years of Sacramental Catechesis, as required by the USCCB and the Archdiocese of Miami.
- Classes are offered once a week, from September through May, either on Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:30pm or on Saturday mornings from 10:00 to 11:30am.
FC2 (2nd Year) Parent Retreat:
- In the spring, all parents of those students who will be receiving First Penance and First Communion come together for a special Parents Retreat, held on a Saturday morning, to discover the importance and necessity of Confession and, “the source and the summit of our faith” – the Eucharist.
First Penance Sheep Project:
- As the celebration of First Penance approaches, students will pray through the Parable of the Lost Sheep to highlight the grace of the Sacrament of Penance. As part of this project, each student will be making their very own “arts and crafts” sheep, which they will place in the Sanctuary of the Church after their First Penance. These special sheep will remain on display for a full day as a sign of celebration for our parish community and will then be returned to the families to be kept as a memento of reception of First Penance.
Jesus Day Retreat:
- Perhaps everyone’s favorite First Communion Prep event, the Jesus Day Retreat is a morning retreat experience for the whole family which includes a very special “Teaching Mass,” unique prayer experiences and activities for the children, and a powerful reflection activity for parents. Jesus Day is held late in the spring, just weeks before the celebration of the First Communion Masses.
The First Penance Prayer Service
The celebration of First Penance consists of two parts.
- First is a brief prayer service, including readings from Scripture, a brief homily by the presiding priest, and a communal praying of the Act of Contrition.
- The second part is the individual confessions of the children. Students will be sent one by one to each of our confessionals to make their First Confession with one of our priests. Upon exiting the confessional, students will make their penance at the altar rail and then place their sheep with the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, inside the Sanctuary.
- Families are welcome to leave at any time after the children have completed their Penance and placed their sheep by the altar.
- The priests will stay to hear confessions of any parents or family members once all the children have finished their confessions.
Dress Code for First Penance:
- Dress or Skirt to the knees (NO blue jean material), socks or tights, and dress shoes please.
- Shirt with collar, dress slacks (NO jeans), and dress shoes please.
- Tie is recommended, but optional .
The First Communion Mass
Dress Code for First Holy Communion:
Out of reverence, honor and respect for the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, family members attending the First Communion Mass are asked to dress modestly, in their church-appropriate, “Sunday best.” The dress code for the children receiving First Communion is as follows:
- White Dress (plain & simple in design) with short sleeves
- The dress must be At Least knee length and it must not touch the floor
- No sleeveless dresses, no trains or excess material touching the floor
- Please avoid the use of a slip with a wire, as the children cannot sit comfortably in the pew
- All girls will wear the same style Veil which will be provided for you.
- Veils will be sent home with the students as soon as they arrive.
- Simple white Socks or white Tights
- White Shoes
- No platform, high heels, or sandals
- Please limit make-up, only clear nail polish on fingernails, and no hoop earrings.
- A small cross or pendant may be worn around the neck. A small bracelet is also permitted.
- Option #1 – White Suit – Preferred
- White long-sleeve shirt, white slacks, and white shoes.
- White blazer is Optional.
- Option #2 – Formal Suit
- White long-sleeve shirt, solid colored dress slacks, and solid colored dress shoes.
- Matching blazer is Optional.
- White tie which will be provided for you.*
- Ties will be sent home with the students as soon as they arrive.
- Hair: Must be neat and may use gel.
- Arm Band is optional for those who wish.
Please note: Children need their hands completely free during the Procession and for the duration of the entire Mass. Please ensure they are not carrying Bibles, Rosaries, or any other items. Gloves should not be worn for the First Communion Mass.
- At each of the First Communion Masses, the first few pews on either side of the main aisle are reserved for the children/students.
- The remainder of the pews in the FRONT section of the Church, and, as needed, some pews by the Side Altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be randomly assigned, one to each family.
- The seating arrangement is designed to keep as much of the family together as possible, as our celebration of Mass is a communal one. Though some pews are longer than others, each family will be able to have at least 6 family members seated together in their assigned family pew. Each set of parents will have the opportunity to sit immediately along the aisle, with the rest of the family filling in the remainder of the pew. Parents will all enjoy an equally unobstructed view of your children as they process in and out of the Mass.
- The entire back half of the Church and the balcony, if needed, will be available for open seating for any other family and friends who will be attending Mass.
- COTLF will have a professional photographer on hand for each of the First Communion Masses. Families may not bring their own photographers.
- Rodolfo Matamoros, who has been capturing Sacramental Celebrations at our parish for over 20 years, will capture photographs of each child as they enter into the Church, as they receive the Eucharist for the first time, and, following the Mass, a photo of each child with the priest celebrant of the Mass.
- Prior to the date of First Communion, families may take photos of the children outside of the Church and around the parish grounds, but may not take photos inside the Church.
- Photos are available for purchase directly through Mr. Matamoros’ website.