The Eucharistic Revival aims “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” This goal is one that is incredibly necessary and fundamental to a Church that is alive and growing. Throughout this year, beginning on the Feast of Corpus Christi back in June, there have been many events in our diocese aimed at inspiring a love for the Eucharist and a deeper understanding of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a beautiful gift and mystery that sometimes even adults find difficult to comprehend. So to teach the significance of the Eucharist to children can be an even more challenging task at times.
One local author, Gracie Jagla, has written a book called “Jesus and the Miracle of the Mass” which aims “to pull back the veil between heaven and earth so children can see what is the miracle that is hidden behind every Mass and hopefully this will bring the Eucharist a little bit more to life for children.” The story is told from the perspective of Jesus in the Eucharist, hoping to show children how Jesus is truly present.
Jagla is a mom of two girls with another baby on the way and she said, “there is nothing more important to write about for children than the Eucharist. It’s the most important thing for them to learn and understand. But it’s very hard to understand because it’s a mystery. It’s one of the biggest mysteries and very little of it is visible to us with our eyes.”
This book, though targeted towards children, also gives language to parents to help them to talk to their children about the Eucharist. Jagla says the book gives parents “ways to open the door to conversations that they might not have considered before either.”
Jeanette Dripps, a mom of eight children and Director of Faith Formation at Mishawaka Catholic Schools, said, “I think children’s books are an incredible resource for helping children form their moral imagination. It takes imagination for children … well really for all of us … to be able to look at a tiny piece of what looks like bread and instead see the Body of Christ. It takes imagination to be able to ‘see’ all the invisible things taking place during the celebration of the Mass. Children’s books and illustrations can help bring these hidden realities to their attention and deepen their devotion. My own children have leaned over during the Mass to tell me about the angels surrounding the altar. This happened after learning about this in school from a picture book.”
When talking about how this book will speak to children, Jagla noted that it was very important to her that the book combined theologically sound teaching with imagination, since imagination is one of the great strengths of children. She did extensive research of Eucharistic miracles and incorporated these stories into some of the more imaginative aspects of the book.
The book has received an Imprimatur by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, which means that the book is theologically sound, and also received the Seal of the National Eucharistic Revival on it, which means that the book is authorized by the Eucharistic Congress. The book comes out in February, and Jagla said, “I hope that children learn that the Eucharist is alive, that the Eucharist is an encounter, that it’s an opportunity for them to be closer to Jesus than any other point in their lives. It’s the one moment that they can be so unified with Him and I hope that they see how closely linked heaven and earth are.”
In this year of the Eucharistic Revival, the Church has an opportunity to invite her members into a deeper understanding and love for the Eucharist. Imparting this beautiful belief to children in the Church will affect the Church for years to come. Children’s literature is one way to invite children into this encounter and encourage them in their love of the Eucharist throughout their life.
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