Our faith as Catholics hinges on our belief in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It can be daunting to bring young children into an Adoration chapel, but it should not be!
Brining children to Adoration can be like brining children to Mass; those with young children may feel the heat of the spotlight! I have learned a great deal though my own children’s catechism program, developed from the work of Maria Montessori. In the preface to her book, The Mass Explained to Children, Maria Montessori writes:
“It is not necessary for the child to learn a great deal in order to follow Mass; but it is essential that he should be spiritually free if he is to follow it. In other words, teaching the Mass must not be mixed up with participation in it.”
I had to read this a few times over! In her work and writing, Maria Montessori encourages parents and educators to separate the intellectual and spiritual aspects of the faith. She encourages teaching the Mass primarily outside of it so that the child is permitted to participate and be during the liturgy itself. This leads me to a confession…after reflecting on this, when our children have been less than pristine during Mass…we still get doughnuts. A consequence may be earned by a child, but we all do get a special treat to celebrate the Lord’s Day, the gift of the Eucharist…not our children’s behavior.
Adoration with young children may seem daunting because…what if they don’t understand? What if they don’t appreciate everything that it is or act as we would like them to? …And then we remember the words of Jesus,
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these (Mt. 19:13-15).
And so, we pre-teach, we give guidelines, we take a breath, and ultimately we allow our children to be in the presence of our loving God.
- When passing a Catholic Church, wave, make the sign of the cross, and say hello to Jesus in the Eucharist
- Tell the story of the Last Super and emphasize the Eucharist as the living Christ before entering Adoration
- Remind your child often that she gives glory to God just by being herself
- Spend 5 minutes in adoration with your children…an hour is unrealistic when they are small!
- Bring a single sheet of paper and a single crayon for each child to draw an intention to leave in the petition box
- Recite a Hail Mary or Our Father with your children during Adoration
- Make a habit to take your children to Adoration on occasions of joy and sorrow such as: the birth of a family member, the start of the school year, the death of a loved one, or just a crummy day
- Use these recommended resources: www.childrenofhope.org & Teaching The Mass to Children, Maria Montessori
Happy Advent & God bless you! May St. Monica intercede for us all in the holy work of raising children!