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Catholic Dictionary

Term

FIRST COMMUNION

Definition

The precept of the Church that requires children to receive Holy Communion, along with the sacrament of penance, on reaching the age of reason. First issued by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the practice was all but discontinued for centuries, due to the inroads of Jansenism. Pope St. Pius X restored the practice and restated the precept, while he also explained how necessarily related are the two sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. "The age of discretion," he said, "both for confession and for Holy Communion is the time when a child begins to reason." This means that "a full and perfect knowledge of Christian doctrine is not necessary either for first confession or first Communion." Moreover, "the obligation of the precept of confession and Communion which binds the child particularly affects those who have charge of him, namely, parents, confessor, teachers, and the pastor" (Quam Singulari, August 8, 1910).

See Also: SANCTUS PONTIFEX