Excerpt from "Letter to the Children" by Blessed John Paul II
Dear friends, there is no doubt that an unforgettable meeting with Jesus is First Holy Communion, a day to be remembered as one of life’s most beautiful. The Eucharist, instituted by Christ as the Last Supper on the night before his passion, is a sacrament of the new covenant, the greatest of the sacraments. In this sacrament, the Lord becomes food for the soul under the appearance of bread and wine. Children receive this sacrament solemnly a first time and are encouraged to receive it afterwards as often as possible in order to remain in close friendship with Jesus.
Every boy and girl belonging to a Catholic family knows all about this custom. First Holy Communion is a great family celebration. On that day, together with the one who is making his or her First Holy Communion, the parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, godparents and sometimes also the catechists, and teachers generally receive the Eucharist. The day of First Holy Communion is also a great day of celebration in the parish. I remember as though it was yesterday when together with the other boys and girls of my own age, I received the Eucharist for the first time in the parish church of my town.
For how many children in history of the church has the Eucharist been a source of spiritual strength, sometimes even heroic strength? How can we fail to be reminded, for example of holy boys and girls who lived in first centuries and are still known and venerated? St. Agnes, who lived in Rome; St. Agatha, who was martyred in Sicily; St. Tarcisius, a boy who is rightly called the ‘the martyr of the Eucharist,’ because he preferred to die rather than give up Jesus, who he was carrying under the appearance of bread?