Sharing God’s Treasures With Little Souls

Saturday morning First Communion classes have begun at my parish church.  With the exception of a few latecomers, registrations are completed, books bought and the kids are already whining about homework assignments.  The majority of the class are 7-year-old children who go to public schools or private non-Catholic schools.  A few of them are from Catholic schools outside the parish and a small number come from the parish schools.  As usual, some of the kids come prepared, eager to learn, their hands in the air ready to answer all the questions.  Other children are not.  All in all, it’s a fairly large catechism class.

Getting to know each child will take some time.  The hesitant, more reserved children will be more challenging to draw out.  I’ll mix up or forget their names for the next few weeks, but things will eventually work out.  It always does.

In teaching the young ones about the Sacraments of First Confession and First Communion, I have to start with the basics; begin at the beginning.   Who is God?  Why did God make us?  Explain the Blessed Trinity.

For about half the class, I have to go back even further.  It’s bewildering to me how 6- and 7-year- old children raised in Catholic homes do not know how to make the Sign of the Cross or pray the Our Father from memory.  It points to the problem of a lack of basic formation in the faith.  It shows that their parents have abdicated their primary duty of bringing their little ones to God.  It shows that some parents are willing to have someone else teach their children the basics of the Catholic faith.  It shows that somewhere down the line, some parents stopped believing that handing on the faith to their children is primarily their responsibility and the catechist is meant to support, not replace them.  If I sound heavy-handed, it’s because I don’t feel that there’s any excuse for a 6-year- old who can’t make that fundamental gesture of Catholic prayer, the Sign of the Cross.  And not being able to pray the Lord’s Prayer from memory at 6 or 7-years-old?  Well, there’s no acceptable excuse for that.

By April, the children will know that they must stand for prayers; they will have traditional Catholic prayers memorized; they will understand the Sacrament of Penance as well as know how to make a good confession.  Above all, they will understand the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and be prepared to receive Him.

At some point in their lives, most of the children will probably forget how to solve algebraic equations or how to properly use a semi-colon.  They may never know what a long-chain polysaccharide is or even care how light refracts.  But their faith, especially their belief in the Holy Eucharist, is fundamental to their whole lives.

To be charged with helping them and their families discover Jesus in the Sacraments of Confession and Communion is daunting, to say the least.  It sometimes takes my breath away just thinking about it.  For guidance, I turn to my patron saint, St. Therese of Lisieux.   At the young age of 23, she became the de facto mistress of novices for her cloister.  Realizing that this task was beyond her human capability, she wrote: Lord, I am too little to nourish Your children; if You wish to give through me what is suitable for each, fill my little hand and without leaving your arms or turning my head, I shall give your treasures to the soul who will come and ask for nourishment………..From the moment I understood that it was impossible for me to do anything by myself, the task…… longer appeared difficult. (Story of A Soul)

Well written, St. Therese.  For the sake of these beautiful little souls that have been entrusted to me, I echo your wise words.

Deo Gratias

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20 Responses to Sharing God’s Treasures With Little Souls

  1. As I grow older, and grow in the Faith, my gratitude toward my family grows and grows. They loved me enough to do all they could to share with me the joy of being a disciple of Jesus. I was baptized at the age of thirteen days, and they fostered my faith through every part of my childhood. My faith is nothing I can take credit for, or even claim to have wanted. God, through the kindness of my family, gave me everything without me having to do anything!

    You’re tending to the needs of those who aren’t as fortunate as I am. God bless you!


  2. SR says:

    How blessed these little ones are to have you!!! Think where they would be without you? It always “should” begin at home. Sadly, most parents now-a-days do not think God is important enough in their child’s life to teach them, much less the Church and all she has to offer. It is so much easier to go to the “nail salon” or a “hunting trip” and leave it to others. Thank you for loving the kids and God Bless, SR

    • Thank you for your kind words, SR. Unfortunately, you’re right about the parents. Thankfully, there are still parents who know the importance of handing on the Faith to their children.

  3. reinkat says:

    God bless you and thank you for what you do for our children and our church.
    Teachers of every subject in every school are aghast at the lack of preparedness, and even of caring and support, by the families of some children. We are all blessed by those who humbly try their best to pick up the slack and share their gifts for the good of the child. Thank you for being one of those who share and give their best.

  4. lilyboat says:

    I was reading your post smiling the entire time– because all I could think about was that I so want to take your class! Then I envisioned myself sitting with adorable children learning with them and that mental picture gave me so much happiness and joy! 🙂 May the Lord bless you and many children through your good work of service.

  5. Mr. V. says:

    God bless you for the work you do. Children need good teachers to instruct them in how to live the Catholic faith. Keep up the good work!

  6. Biltrix says:

    When I was a teenager, I was rummaging through my drawers and pulled out an old “Penny Catechism” that I my First Communion teachers gave me when I was 7 years old. As I read through it, it all started coming back to me. I did not really realize it or appreciate it until then, but the things that the two women who prepared me for my First Communion had stuck with me, and I was proud of my faith.

    Teaching the faith is a spiritual work of mercy (in fact, I think that in teaching children one practices the first 6 out of the 7 at one point or another). It is a challenging and noble task.

    St Therese’s words are also very inspiring and helpful: “From the moment I understood that it was impossible for me to do anything by myself, the task…no longer appeared difficult.” Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Thank you for being part of the solution. God bless your work.

  8. alcuinofyork says:

    So true. I’m saddened when I visit my little cousins and see that they are sorely deficient in their knowledge of the Faith. The sign of the cross is unknown. Jonny Appleseed is about as religious as it gets in their home, even though my aunt wants them to go through the Sacraments as if they were immunization shots!

    • That’s it exactly! For some families, the Sacraments of First Confession and First Communion seem to be just part of a to-do list. Cross it off the list and be done with it. It’s so sad.

  9. What a beautiful post. I know how frustrating it can be: mostly trying to get the parents involved in this work of love.

  10. It’s great that you are doing this! I know it can seem discouraging at times, especially when parents are not on board, but you never know what the Holy Spirit can accomplish working through you! God Bless and I’ll be praying for you 🙂

  11. Thanks for your kind words and your prayers. As a teacher trying to impart the Faith to your students, I’m sure you feel the discouragement more than I ever will. God bless your work too!

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