For Catholics celebrating the Eucharist – going to Mass – is the heart of their belonging to the Church and the most important activity they take part in. There they come together to celebrate what God has done for all humanity in Jesus Christ. At Mass Catholics participate in the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus, by which he showed us God’s love through his Passion and Resurrection. At Mass Jesus Christ is truly present: in his people, in the celebration, in the scriptures proclaimed and above all in the sacrament – the Body and Blood of Christ – shared by the faithful. Catholics are expected to attend mass every week – to miss is like not turning up to a great family celebration!
The celebration of the Mass, as the action of Christ and of the people of God . . . is the centre of the whole Christian life for the Church . . . For in it is found both the high point of action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and the worship that the human race offers to the Father. (GIRM16)
Because the Mass is so importunate it is celebrated in a solemn way which underlines its significance; this can mean that the music and prayers can be quite formal and traditional. But parishes can also have joyful family-focussed celebrations with more contemporary music and directly involving all people in the community. In some places where there is a very diverse ethnic makeup of the community, that diversity can also be reflected in the way the mass is celebrated. The thing that is always central however, is that this is always the one and same Eucharist as is celebrated in Catholic churches across the Diocese, and indeed, across the world.
For Roman Catholic families the celebration of First Holy Communion is a significant moment in the life of a child who has been prepared to receive the sacrament for the first time. This usually follows a formal period of preparation in the parish involving the parents and perhaps the local Catholic school. This is often a big parish event and the children are a focus of prayer and attention. In this Diocese children are usually prepared for communion when they are between 6 and 8 years old.