“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.
Eucharistic adoration is the community’s opportunity to worship God in His real presence in the Eucharist.
Jessica Hayes, Pastoral Associate at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne, believes “the most important thing parents can do to witness to their children about the value of adoration is to spend time regularly before the Blessed Sacrament.” She says many parishes have Eucharistic Adoration on a weekly or monthly basis, and the best way to support this effort (and its expansion) is by committing to an hour. “This shows children of every age that even when life is full, their parents prioritize prayer and draw strength and hope from the Lord’s Real Presence among us. It also shows children that they will grow in prayer throughout their lives.”
Children learn much of what they know about the Eucharist while preparing for the sacrament of First Communion. The constant practice of Eucharistic adoration can also foster or preserve a Catholic youth’s reverence and belief in the true presence, which is the reality of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Hayes says teaching future generations to be giving of their time to Christ is as important as teaching them to use the treasures and talents that God grants them to serve their communities well. She adds that habitual practice of Eucharistic adoration is a beautiful tool to help children give the gift of their time back to Christ in a way that will become a natural part of their faith life.
Explaining Adoration to Catholic Youth
When teaching children, Father Daniel Whelan, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Wayne, first talks about who is in the tabernacle or monstrance. When asking the children who is in there, Father Whelan explains that “most kids know to say Jesus because parents are the primary educators of the children and they are already giving that to them.” He suggests that, with adoration, try to get children to name qualities of God. He navigates the conversation to the fact that He is their friend. Talking about friendship, and giving the gift of time, talking, listening, and laughing are qualities one has with people around them. “This is your best friend right here, so just like with your friends around you, you would not develop a relationship unless you did those things. You need to have that relationship with Jesus.” Educating children on why adoration is so important, he says, is helping them learn to bring everything to Him and spend time with Him, as they would their best friend.
According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, one in three Catholics believe that the Eucharist is just a symbol, and do not understand the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation.
Father Whelan says that presenting children with the opportunity to grow their relationship and faith in Christ and explaining that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist to them at a young age can help lead to a better understanding of what happens in the Mass and at adoration.
Ways to Have a Guided Children’s Eucharistic Adoration
Father Whelan tries to show the use of one’s body … that one’s body can express something about oneself beginning with prostration, or bowing down before God. He suggests explaining who one would bow to, like royalty, but not, for instance, a teacher or a principal. Because He is the only God, teaching children reverence and respect for the Eucharist can be shown in the way we present ourselves to Him. Bowing down and repeating prayers can help nurture one’s faith.
When allowing children to get up and move closer to the monstrance or tabernacle, parents are helping feed their curiosity. Father Whelan advocates allowing children the space, while also teaching them reverence for the sanctuary. “It is a wonderful way to show that this is where the Holy Sacrifice occurs.”
Taking over managing the children’s adoration hour at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne, Sarah Bishop says, “One thing we do is Letters to God. We have a beautiful wooden box, donated to area parishes from someone at St. Vincent, that we place at the foot of the steps for kiddos to say whatever is on their hearts to God. If they are older, they will write letters. Younger kiddos will draw Him pictures.”
Bishop says the children will sometimes ask her before they put their paper in the box if she thinks He will like it. “Sometimes they try to put crayons or stickers in the box in case Jesus wants to color too.”
Bishop has Seeds books available from Children’s Liturgy of the Word for older children. “They have activities about our faith and saints to guide their thoughts and play towards Him. With the older kiddos, it can also spur some wonderful questions and discussion using those.”
Starting a Parish Eucharistic Adoration for Children
Before starting Eucharistic adoration for your child at a parish, Bishop suggests, “Go to the parish office and ask who’s in charge of the scheduled adorers and ask if you can have an hour you are responsible for.” The, she says, talk to other moms at your parish about being part of that adoration hour. “Put it in the bulletin and ask that it be announced at Mass. If someone wants designated supplies belonging to the church, ask for donations if the parish doesn’t have the budget. But all you really need is Jesus. And if He wills it, it will all fall into place.”
Bishop also suggests asking the parish priest to help do a guided children’s hour to explain things used during benediction, such as incense and chants. She says, “Finding items to help feed children’s curiosity and redirect them to focus on Christ can guide them to a more sustainable time during adoration.” She goes on to say that “time spent with loved ones is precious, so getting children to Eucharistic adoration, even for five minutes, creates memories and is time with the One who loves us most.”
Matthew 19:14 tells us Jesus said, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these”.
Father Whelan reminds the community, “we are all God’s children” and He wants us to come to Him.
A few resources for parents to use for children’s Eucharistic adoration suggested by Jessica Hayes include www.looktohimandberadiant.com/2015/06/adoration-with-kid-printables, www.thekennedyadventures.com/eucharistic-adoration-with-kids, and www.guidedchildrensadoration.com.
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