Last week, I took my children to visit Jesus during Eucharistic Adoration at a local church. I had learned from my friend Bea that a special children’s hour was scheduled and I had also recently participated in an archdiocesan survey in which I requested special family hours for Eucharistic Adoration. Most of the adults who attend adoration are focused and concentrated on their prayers, but when I have taken my children in the past, I know they have disturbed others, so I was really glad to hear about this special hour for children.
My children and I really enjoyed our hour there. A catechist (religion teacher) led the children in song, complete with hand motions, gave them pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to color, showed them how to respectfully leave their pictures at the altar for Jesus, prayed the Pardon Prayer (taught to the children at Fatima) with them, and explained how much Jesus loves all of us. If you can find a similar program near you, I highly recommend it. The link above is provided by The World Apostolate of Fatima and their Children of the Eucharist program.
If you are not Catholic, all this might seem unusual to you. Catholics do not speak of communion as a symbolic representation of Christ’s body and blood. Because Catholics believe that the priest consecrates the bread and wine during the mass, turning them into the body and blood of Christ, any that is left over after mass is usually placed in a tabernacle (a special box with a door) which always has a burning candle above it. For the purpose of Eucharistic Adoration, the body of Christ is placed inside a monstrance (golden cross with a clear center for viewing the Eucharist) on an altar for worshipping, adoration, or praying to. This belief that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ that maintains the appearance of bread and wine is one of the main differences between Catholicism and other Christian faiths.
Because the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus (Corpus Christi) the Sunday before, I had focused the religion lesson I taught my children that week on the Eucharist and communion. For religion lessons, I rely on the ideas of several bloggers who are catholic homeschooling moms. So, in order to teach my children about the Eucharist and how we can pray in the presence of Jesus by visiting him at the church, I used the ideas of Xhonané at Familia Católica. (She blogs in Spanish, but also includes the Google Translator on her pages for those who don’t read Spanish.) On her page about Corpus Christi, she gives instructions for making a lapbook; these folder-type display books are currently very popular in the catholic homeschooling community. This time, we made a small versions using folded construction paper, the small coloring picture of children praying at adoration, marked “Página para colorear de Niños adorando al Santísimo” (the first link under the pictures) and also the booklet in Spanish about Communion labeled “Archivo de ‘La Comunión’” (the last link in the list under the first two pictures).
If you have never taken your children to adoration before, you may want to do a similar lesson before you go so they know what to expect. Since we speak Spanish at home, these materials worked for us. I tend to pick and choose parts of lessons for my children’s needs and you can do the same. For example, Xhonane linked to several coloring pages from the Eucharistic Youth Movement website, and you can find their entire selection here. As I explore catholic lessons on-line, I keep track of and follow particular sites that provide lessons that fit my needs. If you teach the faith to your children and/or as a catechist, I wish you the same luck in your explorations. I hope you will share your ideas with me. My oldest daughter will study for her first communion this year, and although our parish requires enrollment in CCE classes for this sacrament, I also plan to continue teaching her and her sister at home. I learn a lot about the faith myself when I'm researching for these lessons.
I have linked this post over at Equipping Catholic Families with Monica’s Extraordinary Ideas for Ordinary Time Link up.