Sunday, 13 July 2008

An experience of Eucharistic Adoration with children

I have spent this weekend at Maryvale Institute, being busy at a residential weekend for the current cohort of trainee RE teachers. During the weekend, I had a conversation with a priest who described his experience of including a time of Eucharistic Adoration in the programme of preparation as children received Holy Communion for the first time. The first reactions of other adults involved with the programme was a bit skeptical, with an expectation that the children would just fidget etc.

Father worked with the children in the school (I assume this refers to the parish primary school) before the service, deciding what they would sing and preparing prayers that they could bring up and lay on the altar. On the day, lots of candles were set out, so there must have been quite a visual impact. (Making an effort with candles and flowers communicates a message - this is something we think is important - and it points us towards the focus, Jesus present as the Eucharist.) All the parents were invited as were the catechists. For Benediction, Father invited the children to the front to kneel along the altar rails, to join their hands and bow their heads. I think the service lasted about 30 minutes.

From Father's account, I think all the children involved and all the parents came, with just one exception.

The children appear to have taken to it completely. Their stillness, silence and reverence were quite the opposite of what had been people's initial expectations. This was probably in no part due to the careful preparation by Father. The reaction of the catechists and parents was enthusiastic - that they must do more of this in next year's programme. When Father gave the children the opportunity for the Sacrament of Penance at the end of the time of Adoration, almost all the children stayed to receive the Sacrament. And Father was able to notice the greater reverence of the children when they next came to Mass.

Now, come on, you know it makes sense. Try it in your parish ...