I teach second grade faith formation at my parish. Yesterday, the children and I were talking about God’s gifts (wisdom, knowledge, faith, and so forth). Perhaps the most basic gift is that of God’s love. I talked about the sacraments as special occasions to experience and receive God’s love and about how God’s love is the best gift there is. Some children objected that gifts such as cash or Play Stations are better gifts. One of the children observed that God’s love is the basis for God’s gift of life, which in turn is the basis for any other possible gifts. That insight is important, of course, but the experience left me wondering how best to present the abstract notion of God’s love to children who, by their age level and by their (and my!) formation in a material culture, are unaccustomed to thinking abstractly and symbolically.
These children are preparing for first Holy Communion. How can we best talk to children about how the gifts of God’s grace and love in the Eucharist help us to be followers of Jesus by helping us to be kind and loving? We have talked about how the Mass helps us to remember how much Jesus loved his friends and us. We have talked about how we are all supposed to be kind and courteous when we have guests over for dinner and about how such kindness and courtesy is supposed to extend beyond the meal. Likewise, sharing in the Eucharistic meal means extending kindness and courtesy beyond the meal. The theme of remembrance/anamnesis is of course central to the Eucharist and there is also a rich and important history linking ethics and worship—a history stretching back at least as far as the prophet Amos. I am wondering what other themes/images/comparisons Pray Tell’s readers might use in their capacity as DREs, catechists, liturgy directors, etc.