“Alright kids, why do we go to Mass?”
We ask a variation of that question every time we arrive at our parish parking lot, usually sweaty and disheveled from wrangling four (soon to be five) children into the van. A mini call-to-action and reminder of why Mass is important, they respond in chorus as we’ve taught them:
“To say thank you to God!” (And hopefully to behave well enough for donuts afterward).
The point of Mass is not for our entertainment or time to mingle with friends, but to give our highest worth (literally “worship”) to God. Jesus wants to nourish us through both Scripture and the Eucharist, the “Source and Summit” of our faith.
In every Mass Jesus comes to us in the smallest, most humblest of ways, with the ultimate goal of providing us with the nourishment we need for this earthly journey. Bethlehem, where Christ was born as a defenseless baby, means “City of Bread,” and the manger, the trough in which he was laid, is where the animals literally fed. From the Manna in the desert through the yearly Passover celebration held by the Jewish people, to the Last Supper of Jesus and Hs disciples, the Eucharist was foreshadowed all along.
God longs to feed us with Himself— the very Bread of Life!
4 Ways To Foster A Child’s Love For The Eucharist
So how do we foster a love for the Eucharist in our children? Consider the following four ways that might work for you and your family:
1. Pray daily! Sounds too easy, right? But prayer is usually the first thing that drops when we get “too busy.” Make time for Adoration as a family. See if a local parish offers a night of worship or even a chapel to stop in and pray together (even if it’s only 5 minutes). The family that prays together stays together!
2. Make them think. Ask questions leading up to each Mass. Talk about why the Mass is so important and even share your own difficulties as an adult in staying focused and being thankful for God’s abundant blessings. We’ve found that looking at the Sunday Readings ahead of time together can also foster familiarity with Scripture and it leads to that exciting moment of, “Hey, I’ve heard that before!”
3. Watch Your Witness. We were blessed to be a part of Ascension’s newest sacramental program Renewed and Received, which is a whole-family model of preparing young people for the first Reconciliation and Communion. In the accompanying leader videos designed for catechists and parents, we note that “more is caught than taught”— our kids will see our behavior, attitude, and time given towards the Eucharist as the ultimate measure of whether or not we as adults truly believe in the presence of Christ before us. “Monkey see, monkey do,” and our children can sniff out whether or not the Eucharist is worth our own devotion.
4. Feed others. Serve together as a family! Go to a soup kitchen or collect toys/old clothes to donate for other families. Organize a meal train for a new mom or a neighbor who is sick. We are the hands and feet of Christ and as we are fed through the Eucharist, so we are sent out to feed others in need.
We’re all imperfect. We all have moments of doubt, of struggle, of tiredness, or bewilderment in trying to wrap our heads around the Eucharist (which is understandable…it’s a mystery!) We’re also in good company, with all the flawed apostles and saints. We ourselves often pray that prayer of imperfect faith from the man who approached Jesus to implore the healing of his son—”I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
What’s most important is that we keep trying anew each day to revere our Lord in the Eucharist together as a family, and God will bless the good work we’ve begun.