I teach the Communion class at Sacred Heart Church of Trenton. I have always felt it is an honor and a privilege to teach this sacrament to the children. It can also be a stressor if you forget to focus on what is most important about the Sacrament which is that the children receive the Body and Blood of Christ with an open heart and feel God’s real presence in their lives. Sometimes it can be difficult to be distracted by the details of the process, for example; will the children behave in church? will they hold their hands right? will they remember everything we talked about in class? I am not saying that those things are unimportant, but if focused just on that part of it you lead the children down a path of focusing on those details instead of keeping their eye on Jesus and their relationship with him.
Our parish has a mix of blended families, single parent families, first generation immigrants, and children being cared for by extended family members. When this child enters the class I am witness to the stresses of trying to get the children there for the classes, the stresses of maintaining a household, working parents stretched in a million directions. When these families first come they sometimes appear to be going through the motions, maybe the grandmother is encouraging the sacrament but the single mom is thinking how in the world am I going to fit this in to my week?
Then as the year progresses and the children start to really get it, the family is along for the journey of faith. In some cases this little child has brought members with them who never go to church or have been away from it or are afraid of being forgiven by God to reestablish their own faith. It is an amazing thing to witness that this one child through the grace of God has forged a path for many of their own family members to be connected again.
As a parish on the actual day of the Communion, the families process in with the child leading them. You can feel the parishioners who attend the Masses that day feel that new energy of faith. The children approach the altar to receive the Body and Blood of Christ and the family goes up with them. Our DRE and teachers sit in the front row and are able to see the expression of these mothers, fathers, and grandparents, as this little child receives Communion for the first time. Their faces are always full of emotion and tears at the beauty of witnessing this innocent child start their relationship in a new way with Jesus Christ. We as a parish are reenergized as we remember that we are all one. Reflecting on Jesus’s words from Matthew 19:14, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” These children remind us that we are all considered children of God and we are precious to him, and this is something we need reminders of in this adult world.
Kathy Valentino, Catechist, Sacred Heart Church of Trenton[[In-content Ad]]