How do you teach kids to love the unique treasures of the Catholic Church? I came up with this simple (but effective!) presentation.
by Becky Arganbright
Recently, I’ve been asked to help catechize a couple brothers who are going to become Catholic and receive the sacraments this spring. I was nervous about this at first, since I only have assisted in catechism classes, and have not taught a class on my own. But I didn’t want to let our priest down, so I agreed to help.
Thankfully, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and the boys were eager to learn which made my job much easier. I tried to keep things fun, letting them make their own rosaries out of clay and taking walks in the graveyard as we learned about interceding for the souls in purgatory. But although the boys had learned a lot, I had the feeling that they didn’t yet understand the significance of being Catholic and how it is unique in its own way apart from other religions. I wanted the boys to see the beauty of being Catholic and embrace it. I worried that one day, they too, would drift away from the Catholic Church, without understanding what they would be leaving behind.
Mulling over this problem, I suddenly remembered a little presentation that I had made up for my own children. I told the boys that I would like to show them the same presentation, or “skit” that I showed my kids a long time ago. I explained that it was meant to inspire my kids to love their faith so much that they would never want to leave it.
“Did it work?” one of the boys asked, referring to the outcome I hoped to achieve with my kids.
I was taken aback by the question, but then laughed.
“I’ll let you know in about 10 years!” I joked.
A Chest of Catholic Treasures
I slid forward a heavy treasure chest which instantly caught the boys interest. “Ooh, treasures!” the younger one said. “Can we see them?”
“I’m going to show you,” I said. “But you have to sit still and listen. These treasures are just a few of the treasures of our Catholic faith. There are so many more treasures than this little treasure chest could possibly hold. But I’m going to show you some of the greatest treasures that make our Catholic faith so very special.”
[For Becky’s full presentation, plus photos, see:
A Presentation on the Treasures of the Catholic Church]
I started with the first treasure, which was a replica of the Eucharist.
“This is the center and the foundation of our faith,” I explained. “Our Catholic faith gives us the Mass which gives us Jesus. We receive him in a way that not even the angels can.The Eucharist is a great treasure.” I gave the host to one boy.
I took out the next treasure, the statue of our Blessed Mother.
“This is our Blessed Mother,” I said. “We know she is our mother because Jesus gave her to us when he was on the cross. She intercedes for us and brings us to Jesus. She is a very special treasure.” I handed the statue to the next boy, who wrapped his arms possessively around the statue.
One by one, I took out the treasures, handing them to the brothers and explaining the significance of each one. The priesthood. Reconciliation. The saints. The pope. So many treasures! And yet, so many more than I possibly could show.
When the chest was empty, we took a moment to survey our treasures. The boys began to compare, competing with each other who had the “best” of treasures. We ended up agreeing that each treasure was beautiful and valuable in its own way.
Treasures Unique and Special, only to the Catholic Church
After a few moments, I stood up.
“But now, let’s pretend that you decide one day that you aren’t sure you want to be Catholic anymore. Maybe there is something about the Church you don’t agree with. Or maybe you are just tired of always going to Mass. So you decide you will join another religion.”
The boys looked at each other uncertainly. I could tell they thought that the presentation was over and were wondering where this was going.
“So, because you aren’t Catholic anymore, you won’t be able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, because other religions don’t believe in it. So put the treasure back in the chest.” Reluctantly, the boy put it back in the chest.
“And even though Mary would always be your mother in heaven no matter what, other religions don’t believe in honoring her.” With a nod of my head, the boy put the statue away, looking a little disappointed.
“Other religions do not have priests, which means you wouldn’t have the Mass.” The symbol of priesthood was put it in the box.
“And because we don’t have priests, we also do not have confession, which wipes away our sins.” Another treasure sadly put away.
“We would no longer have a pope, who is our visible shepherd on earth.”
“And just like Mary, we would have the saints as our friends, but most religions don’t believe that we should pray to them.” The last treasure was put away, and I shut the lid. When I turned back to the boys, they looked a little crestfallen.
“What happened to your treasures?” I asked them.
“You made us put them away!” The younger one said, sounding a little miffed.
“You didn’t just put them away, you left them when you left the Catholic Church,” I gently corrected. “And of course, we are only pretending here. I’m just trying to make a point. Can you tell me what that is? If you leave the Church, what happens to the treasures?”
“We leave the treasures behind!” The younger boy shouted with his usual exuberance.
“We wouldn’t get to keep the treasures,” the older boy said. “Because they are treasures of our Catholic faith.”
“We get it,” The older boy said. “The Catholic Church has treasures that other faiths don’t have.”
I smiled at them, excited for the next part that would cheer the boys up again. “But the good news is that you are going to be Catholic soon, and you get to keep these wonderful treasures!” I said, throwing open the chest. I handed each treasure back to them, rejoicing with the boys of these wonderful treasures that belonged to them in a very special way. The boys were happy to receive them and hold them for a little while, before we cleaned up and reverently put the treasures back in the chest.
“I showed you this because so many people leave the Catholic Church, not understanding what they are leaving behind,” I told the boys on an ending note. “You might have questions or problems with our Catholic faith, and that’s ok, but please ask a priest or someone who knows before leaving. Being Catholic is so very special and one day, everyone will be Catholic. Jesus wants these treasures to be shared with everybody.”
‘Lord, did it work?’
I bid the boys goodbye and told them I would be praying for them. My job of catechizing was over and another catechist would take over in preparing them for reconciliation and holy Communion. I felt both happy and sad at the same time as I watched them go, knowing that I had a personal investment in them now. I would probably always remember them and keep them in my prayers as I do with my own children.
I looked at the treasure chest, now pushed back in its corner where I found it. And I couldn’t help asking, “Lord, did it work?”
Then I smiled as I thought of his response, “I’ll let you know in about 10 years!”
They were in God’s hands, and I would entrust their care to him.