Sunday Mass: “Why Do We Have to Go?” (Part Two)

Recently, I posted about the challenge of convincing our children that going to Mass is a priority in our lives, especially when they push back and tell us that it’s boring or that they don’t get anything out of it. Rather than trying to convince them that it will be fun and exciting, it is more important that we concentrate on helping them to appreciate the deeper reasons why Sunday worship—the Eucharist—is so central to […]

Sunday Mass: “Why Do We Have to Go?”

We’re all familiar with the question that children ask when we are taking them somewhere they are excited about: “Are we there yet?!” Unfortunately, when it comes to taking our children to church on Sunday, the question often turns into, “Why do we have to go?” It can be challenging for parents who want their children to develop an appreciation for the centrality of Sunday Eucharist, when they receive “push-back” instead of enthusiasm. Try as […]

Preparing for First Holy Communion

Every year, the number one question from my second graders as they prepare for First Holy Communion is, “Mrs. Coleman, what does it taste like? My brother said it tastes like paper.” My typical response to this concern is, “Does your brother often eat paper?” My concerns as a catechist are a bit different than the children’s. The closer we get to First Eucharist, the more I worry: Are they ready? Do they truly understand? […]

Engaging Students with a Church Tour

One of my favorite days of the year is when I lead second-graders on a church tour as part of their preparation for First Eucharist. I like to show them and their parents things in the church they might never have noticed or things they may see all the time but not fully understand what they are or why they are there. Before one such tour last spring, I launched into my usual welcome speech. […]

Preparing Students for Reconciliation

Once or twice a year all the children in our parish religious education program celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation during class time. For most of them, this is the only time they will receive this sacrament during the year. With that in mind, I spend some time preparing these children to celebrate Reconciliation. I start preparing a few weeks before they will celebrate the sacrament. I don’t go into too much depth at […]

Sacramental Preparation Should Rely on a Language of Mystery

When my mom was 13 years old and unbaptized, she hung around with her best friend Ramona who, like the rest of her family, was a practicing Catholic. Once, when my mom went with Ramona’s family to Sunday Mass, she observed them all go up to receive Communion and come back to their places to kneel in prayer with a look of joyful contentment on their faces. After Mass, my mom asked Ramona’s mother, “What […]

A Good Vocation Video

I began my career in ministry back in 1981, teaching in a high-school seminary in Chicago. It was always my quest to find a good video on priestly vocations to show to the young men in my classes; however the options were usually slim. Since that time, there have been a number of videos produced on the topic of priestly vocations—some better than others—but they still tend to exhibit one of the following shortcomings: They […]

Celebrate, Remember, and Appreciate: Mystagogy for Children

Mystagogy is a time for the community and the newly baptized to “grow in deepening their grasp of the paschal mystery and in making it part of their lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the eucharist and doing the works of charity.” (RCIA 244) Mystagogy is clearly a period of encounter, accompaniment, and integration. Both the community and the newly initiated grow together. Unlike adults who are instructed and mentored prior to Baptism, […]

Teaching the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist

Various studies in recent years have revealed a disturbing fact: less than half of people who identify as Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a central tenet of our Catholic faith. We believe that, in the Eucharist, Jesus Christ is truly though mysteriously present to us under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine. Is this a difficult concept to teach to children […]

Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ: Hard to Swallow?

Once, when I gave a Scripture presentation to a group of adults, an elderly gentleman came up to me afterwards and said, “I don’t understand why God seems to be all over the place in the Old Testament, but he’s nowhere to be found in the New Testament.” My guess is that he was referring to the dramatic theophanies of the Old Testament, such as the burning bush. I replied, “Oh, no, God is very present in […]

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