Take The Little Ones To Eucharistic Adoration

Frequent readers will know that it is my firm belief that waning belief in the Real Presence is the single biggest problem confronting the Church–that from this problem all the other problems flow. According to several polls I’ve seen, close to a majority or perhaps more than a majority of self-identified weekly Mass-going Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Even more frequent readers will know that I have, at the very least, a great fondness for the Eastern Orthodox practice of infant communion. Children, I believe, benefit tremendously from receiving the Body of Christ, and the Lord wants the little children at His table.

This is not the road that the Western Church has chosen. The Church has chosen to follow the advice of St Paul in stressing the importance of “discern[ing] the body”. The Church does not condemn infant communion, but the Council of Trent does condemn those who condemn the institution of First Communion as it has evolved within the Church, and as a faithful son of Holy Mother Church I must acknowledge her greater wisdom.

With all this being said, and truly being said, I do believe that there is a special charism between children and the Eucharist. In children, the eyes of faith often see clearly what “grown-up reason” can sometimes obscure. I was at a recent meeting of catechists where one catechists said that the Real Presence is hard to teach to children because it is a complicated doctrine. She was talking about children aged 8 to 11 where they can formulate many objections so I do not believe her view was groundless. But I nonetheless believe that the Real Presence is exceedingly simple, and I furthermore intensely believe that it can be readily understood by even very small children, perhaps understood (insofar as any great mystery can be understood, of course) much better by small children than by world-wise adults.

Well, there is another very great and very important tradition of the Western Church, an incredible spiritual wellspring, and that is the practice of Eucharistic Adoration. To prayerfully adore Christ in the Host is a truly powerful fount of grace.

And so I think that children, including, indeed especially, pre-communicant children, children as young as three, should, with due preparation, have Eucharistic Adoration as a regular part of their catechetical formation. They should be taught to contemplate and pray before the Holy Eucharist, and therefore develop a deep fellowship with the Emmanuel God.

0058 Igreja São Sebastião, Porto Alegre” by Eugenio Hansen, OFSOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


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  • Christie Martin

    A group of families reserved an hour at a chapel ten years ago and we have inherited that slot now that their children are grown. We pray out loud either the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, or the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the rest of the time is spent in quiet–we have a teen child take the really little squirmy guys out to play for the first and last 10 minutes. It’s really, really doable as long as the moms don’t expect too much in the way of spiritual consolation.

    We try our best but often pray like this, “Hail Mary *don’t touch your sister* full of grace. *sit down* The Lord is with thee. *Shhh* Blessed art thou *What number are we on? Is anyone counting?* among women…” It’s the thought that counts and everyone who regularly attends that chapel knows the deal and allows the families this one hour out of the week to learn how to do Adoration. All are welcome but all avoid that hour and day like the plague.

    • Betsy Puntel

      I can remember when our children were small, I would take them for a visit to Jesus in the tabernacle. I still do this with groups of children who come to our atrium each week in school.
      My whole life is wonderfully blessed with small children and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. From the time the child enters the atrium at three, we proclaim with great simplicity the reality of the REal Presence of the Good Shepherd in the Eucharist. The bread and wine still look like bread and wine, but have become the Body and Blood of the Risen Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is because Jesus wants this to be the way he gives all of himself to us. (That’s the kernel- but the reality of how it is presented is why it makes so much credible sense to the little ones).
      One three year old, when her mom got up to go to Holy Communion the Sunday following the presentation of the Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd, said to her mom, “You are going to receive the Body and the Blood.” (in hushed tones)
      It is perhaps adults that have lost the simplicity and essentiality which is necessary to re-find with our little ones!
      A friend and I have co-written a book, available through Liturgy Training Publications (and Amazon) A Child’s Book of the Mass by Betsy Puntel and Hannah Roberts. We offer that gift hoping that for many parents who truly want to share the wonder of it all with their children, this book will help. We also hope for the many parents for whom we pray to be blessed to ‘get’ it, that their journey with their child will be assisted by this book, and by their child’s openness and need.

      • The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is such a wonderful blessing. I will definitely look up your book. Thanks for your comment!

    • I think what I would do for little children is take them to the adoration chapel, have someone (ideally a priest) give them a very short speech/reflection/briefing on the Eucharist and Eucharistic adoration and Jesus and prayer, and then simply let them meditate in silence before the host, and let them leave when they feel they’re done.

  • claycosse

    PEG, I found your blog a couple weeks ago and have quickly become a big fan. The only problem is that I really can’t find anything I disagree with you on. It’s almost like reading my main man Chesterton. You just preach it.

    Until this piece–my wife and I take our little ones to adoration, so no objection there. I totally agree that it is an awesome idea. A necessity really. The problem–I’ve read that the surveys that suggest waning belief in the real presence are deeply flawed. Specifically, the main one asked people to pick a complex theological explanation for the real presence out of four possibilities. Predictably, only 30% of Catholics got the right answer. I’ve read that more simply worded surveys show that 80%-90% believe in the real presence. Here’s a good posting on this issue: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2009/04/do-70-of-catholics-deny-real-presence.html

    I’m not one to bury my head in the sand where there’s a real problem, but I don’t think it’s as big a problem as the conventional wisdom holds. Thoughts, mon frere?

  • Beth Turner

    I have a really hard time getting my 5-year-old to actually pray at adoration (“I don’t know the words!”), but he LOVES the idea that I go and pray to Jesus for him. He always makes sure to send his intentions with me when I tell him that I’m going to see Jesus in the adoration chapel. It’s so sweet!