Modeling behavior for children

By Sarah McDonald, NOLA Catholic Parenting

“How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.”

             – St. John Chrysostom

A recent Pew Research study found only 31% of U.S. Catholics they surveyed believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist – that the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ during transubstantiation.

Perhaps even more painful: 69% of Catholics surveyed believe the Eucharist “are symbols of the body and blood of Christ.”

This explains a lot about who we are and what is happening in our church today.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of who we are as Catholics. The Real Presence is a fundamental teaching of the Catholic faith; yet, somehow, some way, the broader body of Christ has lost sight of this, and it is tragic.

This spring, my oldest made his first Communion. It was a beautiful Mass (on a very stormy Saturday morning), and the joy and anticipation on the children’s faces as they waited for their first Eucharist was beautiful.

I would have liked to use the word contagious, but perhaps their understanding of what they were receiving – the body and blood of Christ – was more profound than many of the adults in the church that morning. Perhaps their recent catechesis through the power of the Holy Spirit allowed them to know, through faith, something some of us have forgotten from second-grade faith formation.

As Catholic parents, how can we reclaim their joy in receiving the sacrament? How can we keep our children at the eucharistic table throughout their lives?

We must model it through our own behavior. We must approach the Eucharist each week in awe of what we are receiving.

We must listen attentively to the words as the priest prays the Mass (that’s right, prays it, not says it).

We must prepare ourselves for Mass each week rather than checking it off of a list of things to do on Sunday.

We must avail ourselves of the sacrament of reconciliation so that our hearts may be open to receive our Lord in the Eucharist.

We can and should make time to visit our Lord and sit in his presence at one of the many eucharistic adoration chapels throughout the Archdiocese of New Orleans. If we model these behaviors for our children, they will see it and practice it, and we, as parents, as families, as parishes, as the church, will all be the better for it.

Sarah McDonald is a wife and mother living with her family of seven in Metairie. Professionally, she works as director of communications for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. She and her family are avid sports fans who love to cook and spend time with family and friends.

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