Do you have a son or daughter, a niece or neighbor or friend, who will receive Christ in the Eucharist for the first time this Spring?

I still remember fondly the day of my First Holy Communion. The white dress, white patent leather shoes…. a prayer book, a new watch from my godparents, a crisp $20 bill. But while I understood that this was Jesus I was receiving for the first time, I’m not sure how much I understood what difference He would make in my life.

So if I were shopping for a Communion gift for a young boy or girl today, I would jump at the chance to give him or her one of the fine new children’s books introduced by Ignatius Press. Just in case you have a special girl or boy in mind, let me share my new finds:

A MISSAL FOR CHILDREN

Childrens Missal - Front CoverThis Missal for Children is an elegant gift, in white leather with the cover embossed in gold. It offers the Mass prayers so a young reader can follow along; but there’s so much more! Do you remember the pre-Vatican Daily Missal which had Latin on one side, and an English translation on the opposite page? This book works like that-but while the Mass Prayers are printed on the right, with illustrations depicting the posture for the children and for the priest. The left is reserved for an explanation of each prayer:  a brief history, for example.

And these features are so important: A section at the front on “The Meaning of the Mass” explains, in language children can understand, howo the Mass is a representation of Calvary. “A Guide to the Liturgy” teaches where the word “liturgy” comes from, the colors of the liturgical year, and the seasons.

The other sections include a chapter on Prayers, a guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a Glossary, and really neat for children, a section on Objects and Vestments for Mass.

Childrens Missal - Inside pagesI wish I’d had A Missal for Children when I was young!

MY CATHOLIC BIBLE

My-Catholic-BibleNow here is a thing of beauty and a perfect gift for the First Communicant or any child in your life. I opened My Catholic Bible to find a formal presentation page in this sturdy white children’s bible with gold leaf edging. Kudos to Emilie Vanvolsem for her colorful and simple illustrations which capture the emotion in well-known bible stories.

From the authors’ introduction:

Together, all of these stories tell the great history of the people of Israel, to whom God chose to reveal himself. Reading the Bible helps us to answer such questions as: Who are you, God? Why do you come to speak to us? What is it you wish to give us? How can we become your friends?

The men and women in the Bible were not perfect. Far from it! But they gradually discovered something very important that changed their lives: God was always with them, even when they made silly, and sometimes even big, mistakes.

With this Bible, children can meet these friends of God on their own. Long or difficult texts are summarized or explained, and the illustrations will help them to understand the essentials….

The book explains things which you, a lifelong believer, may take for granted, but which may challenge the young reader: Who wrote the Bible? How do you look things up in the Bible?

There’s a section at the end of each chapter which explains how people lived during biblical times. At the back, there’s an index of main figures and events, and a glossary with page numbers to send the curious child back to find the term in the text of Scripture.

Some things just need explaining, and My Catholic Bible covers it in sidebar notes. What does “Son of Man” mean? What’s “leaven”? Who are the “men in white robes” at Jesus’ Ascension into heaven?

I imagine children begging for bedtime stories from My Catholic Bible, or cuddling up in a corner to read it for themselves.

 

First Communion Image:  By Mathisfield (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons