How To Explain The Eucharist To A Child

by Adoration, April, Eucharist, Family

Something special is going on in our country right now. I love it! The entire United States is in the midst of a three-year Eucharistic Revival. Think of the long-term impact! What a beautiful time in our Catholic Church for all its members – the oldest all the way to our youngest. Personally, I am excited by the many possibilities to help our nation’s children love our Eucharistic Lord more deeply.

Our job is to find ways to plant the knowledge seeds of Jesus’ True Presence deep within our children’s hearts. By teaching and finding different ways of reinforcing the core truth of our Catholic faith, we are laying the foundation – a strong foundation for our students to live Eucharistic lives and a lasting faith in something their five senses cannot detect. With this truth, we build a love for visiting Jesus upon the “source and summit” [1] of our faith. We help prepare our students for the amazingness of being in the physical presence of Jesus at Mass and in Adoration.

Practically when involving children in Revival efforts, start with these basics – “What is the Eucharist?,” “Why is the Eucharist so important?,” and “What is the Eucharistic Revival?” It is important to teach our children the special language of our Catholic faith. Yet, we need to supplement this faith language with age-appropriate words and explanations. In addition, using imagery and relatable examples will help forge strong connections for children with our Eucharistic King. Envision the future of our church, of our nation, as we actively involve children in the Revival in our corner of God’s kingdom.

What To Do When A Child Asks, “What is the Eucharist?”

Varying to some degree based on the age of the children, use this section as a jumping off point in explaining “What is the Eucharist?”

You can begin explaining the Eucharist by reading the Last Supper account in Matthew 26:17-20, 26-30 straight from the Bible. Reread the account a second time. You might choose to have children close their eyes and imagine themselves at the Last Supper listening closely to Jesus’ words alongside the disciples.

Tell the children that Sacred Scripture, also known as the Bible and God’s Word, teaches us that the Eucharist was given to the apostles by Jesus during the Last Supper.  Jesus actually changed the bread and wine at the Last Supper into His Real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. What an amazing, beyond our human ability to fully understand, but absolutely true moment in time!

The words, “His Real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity” are very important words in our Catholic language. Do not be afraid to use them with the children. They will mature into a deeper and deeper understanding of these words.

Ask the children, “What did Jesus do once the bread and wine were actually Him?” He gave it to His apostles to eat and drink as a special gift. We too are receivers of this amazing gift from God.

Upper elementary children and older youth can be asked, “When did the Last Supper happened in Jesus’ days on earth?” It was the night before Jesus died. This shows us the importance of what Jesus did. When people know that they are close to death, they focus on what is really important to them because they don’t have much time left. Jesus knew He was going to die, but He took the time to give the disciples and us a magnificent gift, the Eucharist! His very self!

Jesus made a promise to be with us until the end of time. The Eucharist is the way He keeps His promise and stays physically with us.

Reread Matthew 26:26, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Ask the children, do these words sound familiar? Yes! We hear it at every Mass. So, now 2000 years later, we are privileged to experience this gift of Jesus Himself, His Body, Blood Soul, and Divinity at every single Mass. 

The priest says the Words of Institution and Consecration over the bread and wine:

“Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my body,
which will be given up for you.”
“Take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the chalice of my Blood,
the Blood of the new and eternal covenant.

At the moment these words are spoken by the priest and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine are changed – the very substance, or the purpose of the bread and wine, miraculously become the risen body of Jesus, His True Presence. This change is called transubstantiation which means “change the substance.”

The bread and wine still look like bread and wine. The bread and wine will still taste like bread and wine. The bread and wine will still smell and feel like bread and wine. Yet, what was bread, is no longer bread but now Jesus, now the Eucharist. Our earthly human eyes see one thing – bread, but our faith eyes see something different – Jesus. We trust our faith eyes more than our human eyes because we trust Jesus. Jesus told us the bread becoming Him is truth, so we know that it is truth.

It is a miracle. A miracle is something that we cannot understand. A miracle goes against what nature can do, but it is still real and true. Our five senses cannot see a difference, but our faith alone does. We do not need to understand it to believe it! This is faith.

For preschoolers, I would explain in even simpler terms. Say to these littlest, “Raise your hand if you have seen the priest hold up the big white Host – a big white circle at Mass.” Let them all respond. Then, to be sure that everyone is visualizing the same moment at Mass, show an actual picture of a priest holding up the Eucharist at Mass.

Pointing to the Eucharist in the picture, say, “with the words of the priest and by the power of the Holy Spirit the big white Host becomes the Eucharist! That is Jesus!”

Jesus said, “This is my body.” Since we know we can trust Jesus, we believe it!

The host may still look like round, flat bread, but is really Jesus . . . His Body, His Blood, His Soul, and His Divinity, His kingship and Godliness.

(The website, Guided Children’s Adoration, has three visual lessons: Seeing the Body and Blood of Jesus with Faith, Jesus in His Sacramental Garment, and Our 5 Senses and His Word to teach children Jesus’ True Presence in the Eucharist, “the source and summit” [2] of our Catholic faith.)

How To Help Children See That The Eucharist Is Important?

Ask the children what food does for their bodies. Food keeps our bodies strong and healthy. Food gives us energy for our muscles, bones, and brain to grow strong, Food helps our minds think, make choices, and learn.

Share with the children that the Eucharist, Jesus’ Real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, is the ultimate food for our souls. Ask the children, “What is our soul?” Our soul is the spiritual, undying part of us. [3]

When we eat the Eucharist, Jesus, He makes our souls strong and healthy. The Eucharist helps us to resist sins which hurts our friendship with God and makes our soul sick. The Eucharist makes our friendship with Jesus stronger by connecting our heart to His so we follow in His footsteps. Eating the Eucharist helps us to make good choices which lead us closer and closer to eternity in heaven with God. The Eucharist helps us to love others like Jesus loves. This love helps us to focus on others and not just ourselves. Eating the Eucharist is how Jesus helps us to be able to do as He asked at the Last Supper, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” [4]

Our bodies absorb the nutrients in food like our souls absorb the love of Jesus in the Eucharist. Eating the Eucharist helps us to become more and more like Jesus which is the surest way to get to heaven!

You could choose to extend the discussion by asking the children, “What happens when you go too long without food? How does it make you feel?” Then draw the connection to how your soul responds without having the Eucharist often enough.

Explaining The Eucharistic Revival To A Child

In children’s terminology, a revival means to make something popular or to make something important again. You can break revival down even further by saying to revive something is to make something alive again.

In combining the two words, Eucharist and revival, the Eucharistic Revival hopes to encourage all people, especially us Catholics, to think about the Eucharist more and more. The Revival wants to help boost people’s faith in the Eucharist, Jesus’ True Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, like when we, as young children, needed a boost from a parent to reach a water fountain when we were thirsty. The Revival wants to help make our faith alive and strong. The hope is that all people will start to take more interest in Jesus in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist becomes an important part of people’s everyday life. The goal is that the Eucharist becomes something that we cannot live without. The hope is that over these three years that the Eucharist, Jesus, becomes wildly and endlessly popular!

Lead a discussion with the children to make connections to their passions and how they use their free time. It could look something like the following.

Let me ask you a question. Have you thought about the Eucharist today?

What about yesterday? Did you think about Jesus in the Eucharist yesterday?

Do you think about the Eucharist every day?

Now I want you to think about your favorite hobby or pastime. Something you are crazy about. Something you love.

What is popular to you? What happens when something is popular or is our favorite?

We think about it and talk about it A LOT! We talk to our friends about it. We talk to our brothers and sisters about it. We talk to our parents about it. We can’t wait to see it, play with it or play it!

When we have free time, we use it or watch it or think about it. You might even want to put it in your backpack to bring to school. You might even draw pictures about it.

This is what we want for Jesus, the Eucharist! To be crazy about Him! To love Him! To think about Him all the time! To talk to others about the Eucharist often! To bring Him with us everywhere we go! We want Jesus in the Eucharist to be our most favorite thing in all the world!

After having this discussion with the children, you can brainstorm ideas together with the children on how to revive Jesus in our own hearts. Don’t let the momentum stop at a list of ideas; encourage the children to choose ideas from the list to do daily.

23 Ways To Help Children Understand The Eucharist

Some possible ideas to include are:

  • Pray! Pray to Jesus daily about anything and everything! Jesus and Me: Talking with My Greatest Friend is an excellent prayer resource.
  • When you hear the bells ring during Mass, pay attention! The bells are saying, “Look! Look! This is important!” Jesus is about to be made present on the altar.
  • Listen for the words of Consecration at Mass, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it” then look lovingly at the Eucharist held up in the priest’s hands and whisper quietly or in your head, “Jesus, I love You!”
  • When you say the Great Amen during Mass, in your head, add the words, “Yes, I do believe the Eucharist is You, Jesus.”
  • As you walk down the aisle for Communion, keep your eye on the Eucharist in the Eucharistic Minister’s hands. Don’t take your eyes away! This is just like what you do with your earthly friends, you look at them as you walk towards each other.
  • After you receive the Eucharist at Communion time and are kneeling to pray, close your eyes to prevent distractions and to be able to pray more fervently. Jesus is inside you right now! Ask Him to help you to be more like Him.
  • Come to Mass 5 or 10 minutes earlier than you usually do to settle your heart and soul in prayer.
  • Attend Mass with a joyful heart one extra time a week. Don’t wait for your parents to ask you to go, ask them.
  • Use the Mass Resources on the Guided Children’s Adoration website.
  • Say a Spiritual Communion.
  • Visit Jesus in Adoration.  A few minutes a day, a half hour a week, or an hour a week. Whatever is age appropriate. Increase the time of your visits. Jesus waits for you there!
  • During Adoration, use the book, Jesus and Me: Talking with My Greatest Friend, to grow closer and closer to Jesus.
  • During Adoration, just take time to look at Jesus in the middle of the monstrance and tell Him you love Him. Prayerfully consider that you are in the physical presence of Jesus just like the disciples when Jesus walked the earth as a man.
  • In Adoration, close your eyes to imagine what is invisibly, but really happening. Jesus in the Eucharist is sending rays of graces to your soul to help you live a good holy life.
  • Visit Jesus in the Tabernacle at many, many parishes.
  • Take quiet time in Mass and in Adoration to quiet yourself and listen to Jesus. Helpful guidelines can be found in Jesus and Me: Talking with My Greatest Friend.
  • Draw pictures of the Eucharist.
  • Draw pictures of Consecration at Mass.
  • Talk about the Eucharist with your family often.
  • Read about one Eucharistic Miracle a week and share your new information with others.
  • Learn about Eucharistic Saints and share your new information with others. (St. Peter Julian Eymard, Blessed Carlo Acutis, St. John Paul II, St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, St. Thomas Aquinas to name a few)
  • Jesus lovingly gives us the gift of Himself, His Body to nourish us, choose a way to lovingly make a gift of yourself with your time and talents to nourish/help those less fortunate.
  • Post “Love for the Eucharist Reminder” cards around your home/classroom to think about Jesus daily. A free downloadable on the Guided Children’s Adoration website.
  • Plus, so many more ideas! Share your ideas in the comment section!

As the hearts and souls of the children of today draw ever closer in friendship with our Eucharistic King, they will develop the soul changing practice of spending time with Jesus in Mass, in Adoration, and in saying Spiritual Communions. They will grow used to talking and listening to Jesus often throughout their days. The leaders of tomorrow will become more and more like Jesus! Children actively participating in this Eucharistic Revival causes my heart to swell as I imagine the world of tomorrow as our future leaders rely on Jesus as their best friend, confidant, counselor, and guide.

Jesus and Me: Talking with My Greatest Friend

Like any new skill, young Catholics need guidance when learning how to pray. Jesus and Me: Talking with My Greatest Friend provides children with a clear yet flexible blueprint for meaningful conversations with Our Lord—conversations that can develop into a lifelong relationship with Jesus.

More than just a collection of prayers to recite, Jesus and Me provides children with eighty prayer options that offer sweet, simple, and reassuring guidance for learning how to pray. It helps them understand how and why they should pray to their divine friend, Jesus.

Written by Melissa Kirking, a Catholic mother and teacher, this full-color, spiral-bound book has been creatively designed so that children will want to use it. It highlights the four types of prayer—adoration, gratitude, contrition, and petition.

By giving children the tools they need to talk with Jesus, Jesus and Me transforms something that may at first seem overwhelming, boring, or bewildering into a divine friendship that will guide them throughout their lives.

Order yours HERE!

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[1] CCC 1324

[2] CCC 1324

[3] Jesus and Me: Talking with My Greatest Friend by Melissa Kirking

[4] John 15:12

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