This spring, our youngest child will be receiving his First Communion, and among our extended family and friends, there will be no fewer than six First Communions…so understandably, I have First Communions on my mind!
To be fair, I’ve also had First Communion on my mind because for the past year, we here at Gracewatch have been working on our new First Communion journal. As of this writing, it’s not available yet, but I’m excited to share a sneak peek with you, along with a couple of our children’s picture books that talk about First Communion: Molly McBride and the Purple Habit and Flowers for Jesus.
But let’s start with My First Communion Journal.
As you can see, the journal is beautifully designed by Agape Studios. These are preliminary design samples, but we don’t expect them to change much. Catholic folk artist Jen Norton has done a great job on the cover art and the little profile pictures of the child saints.
I was inspired to create a First Communion journal about a year ago as our youngest child began preparing for his First Communion, which is coming up May 6. I wanted something to give him to help him prepare for the experience…but in a fun and special way. Like a lot of kids his age, he loves journals…because he gets to “finish the book,” adding his own thoughts, words, and art.
I designed the My First Communion Journal to be used by the child long before and after his First Communion. Some of the pages are oriented toward preparing for First Communion; others are meant to help the child continue her First Communion experience in the months that follow. (A kind of informal “mystagogy” for the communicant.) The beginning pages invite the child to name his unique identity as a child of God and of the Church, as well as a member of a family, school, and wider community. “What special purpose do you think God has planned for you?” is one of the first questions in the journal.
Later pages make connections to the other sacraments the child has already experienced: She’s invited to write down the story of her baptism (with the help of parents, of course!), and to make a record of her First Confession. Other pages unfold different dimensions of the Eucharist—gifts, gratitude, service—as well as different ways of preparing to receive Jesus in the Eucharist (spiritual bouquets, adoration, resolutions).
The little stories of the First Communions of four child saints and blesseds are one of my favorite parts of the journal. Each little story is followed by an invitation to imitate the saint or blessed’s practice. Saints Therese of Lisieux and Dominic Savio are featured, along with Blesseds Francisco Marto and Laura Vicuna.
Quotes and excerpts from the Bible, the Catechism, the popes, and the saints are sprinkled throughout the book, but the back of the book is reserved for special messages and words of wisdom from the child’s family and friends.
The journal is 6×9 inches, and about 50 full-color pages. It should be available around April 15, if all goes well. You’ll be able to order the journal here: My First Communion Journal.
We’re not taking pre-orders for this book, but you can sign up to be alerted when the book is ready using this form:
Two of our picture books also make excellent First Communion gifts. Let’s begin with Flowers for Jesus, which tells the story of how St. Therese of Lisieux prepared for her First Communion by creating a “spiritual bouquet” of sacrifices and acts of love:
I love the detail in the illustrations in this book…which illustrator Jeanie Egolf meticulously researched, down to the pattern of the lace! And the story is by turns funny and poignant. You can read the entire book before ordering from us or picking it up on Amazon.com.
Speaking of Jeanie Egolf…her very first picture book, Molly McBride and the Purple Habit, is also about a “very special day”…Molly’s sister’s First Communion day! While the story turns on Molly’s attachment to her purple nun’s habit, it ends with a little lesson about the Eucharist from one of Molly’s nun friends:
As with all our books, you can read the entire thing on our website before purchasing it.
Let’s say a prayer right now that God will bless the children who are preparing to come to him for the first time in Holy Communion. Amen!