"The whole trouble is that -- literally -- we do not know what is good for us; and what makes the trouble still worse is that we think we do. We have our own plans for our happiness, and too often we merely regard God as somebody who will help us to accomplish them. The true state of affairs is just the opposite. God has His plans for our happiness, and He is waiting for us to help Him to accomplish them. And let us be quite clear about it: We cannot improve on God's plans." This Tremendous Lover, M. Eugene Boylan, O.C.R.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Mystery of the Holy Eucharist, a lesson on Communion for the Great Fast

During the Great Fast, we are taking an opportunity to review with the children two of the sacraments, Confession and Communion. Following is my lesson plan to discuss with the children the Holy Eucharist, along with a craft from Catholic Icing that I love and fits in perfectly to prepare us for Holy Week.

First, we'll begin by discussing the sacrament itself, with my summary from the Primer of Melkite worship.

The Holy Eucharist looks like bread and wine, but it is the true Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The bread and wine are sacred gifts that the priest prepares and carries in the procession of the Great Entrance.

The bread and wine are placed on the altar, where the priest offers them to God on behalf of all the faithful people. The priest uses words from the last supper and the day when Jesus died on the cross in his prayers. He asks God to come down from Heaven to the gifts of bread and wine and make them the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The bread and wine are changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Once this mystery has taken place, we offer the prayers of thanksgiving and petition. Do you remember when we sing “Grant this Oh Lord?” These are the prayers that we say at this time. Then we are asked to approach the Eucharist “with the fear of God, with faith, and with love.” Do you think this means we should be afraid of God?

“Fear of God” means great respect and reverence for God’s Presence here with us. We are so grateful and awed that He is willing to allow us to receive Him in this special way. We also are asked to approach with faith, meaning that we come up truly believing that this IS the Body and Blood of Jesus.

If we have any very serious sins, or if we have a big fight with a friend or family member, we should go to Confession before we receive the Eucharist. We should be at peace with God and with each other. This is what it means to approach with love.

How should we approach the Eucharist? Allow for answers.
1. When in line, wait patiently and quietly. No talking or pushing.
2. Before receiving, make a bow, then cross your arms across your chest and place your chin above the cloth that the altar servers are holding.
3. Tip your chin up and open your mouth wide for the priest to place the Eucharist in your mouth. Do not stick out your tongue.
4. Step aside and bow before the icon of Jesus. Say a quiet prayer thanking God for this gift.
5. Return to your place, standing and praying quietly until everyone has received communion. Thank God for the gift He has given us!

A small piece of the Body and Blood that we receive are left on the altar in the tabernacle. This is why we always bow when we enter the church or pass in front of the altar. We are bowing to God, present in the Holy Eucharist, there on our altar. Even when you pass by a Catholic church in your car, you should make the sign of the cross to acknowledge that Jesus is there inside.

Since it is such a privilege to receive Christ in this way, we should act and dress accordingly! When our parents take us to a fancy restaurant, we wear special clothes and act “on our best behavior.” It is the same for us at the Liturgy. We are here to RECEIVE the KING OF KINGS! We should dress up, dress modestly, and be on our best behavior. We should participate to the best of our ability in worshiping our Lord.

Now, we will read from the Bible Matthew 26: 21-29 and 47-56. Listen for some of the same words that we hear in the Liturgy. You will get to make a craft today to depict the scenes that we are reading about now.

At this point, we'll transition into our craft, seen above. The instructions can be found at Catholic Icing. It is one of my very favorite blogs! I had the children do all of their coloring last week and this week, we will just be doing the crafting in an effort to make sure that there is enough time for everything. We are always short on time!

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