In popular practice, April traditionally has been devoted to the Most Blessed Sacrament. Here are some ways to practice that devotion with your family this month.
by Brian Smith
Back in the Middle Ages, many Catholics began observing special devotions around a particular theme each month — the Holy Name of Jesus in January, for instance. Today, many families are reviving this practice as part of the way they observe the liturgical calendar at home. By practicing monthly devotions, the core values of the faith will become more alive within your family. The beauty of monthly devotions is that there is no set way to celebrate. So, be creative, make it fun, and adapt your celebration to your own family.
Here are some ways to celebrate the popular devotion for April, the Blessed Sacrament (or holy Eucharist).
Talking with Kids about the Most Blessed Sacrament
The Most Blessed Sacrament was introduced to us at the Last Supper by Jesus when he said to his Apostles, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19). When Jesus said this, he consecrated the bread, turning it into his body! Now, although the communion host may still look the same, Jesus is truly present — in every particle — of the Eucharist.
When we receive holy Communion, we do so for two reasons:
- To remember Jesus and how he suffered on the cross for us in hope that we too may join him in heaven one day
- To unite ourselves with Jesus as we go about our daily life in hope that the Holy Spirit will guide us as we seek to fulfill God’s will
The gift of the holy Eucharist is so great, that the Church celebrates Mass every day of the year. Holy Communion is where we receive Jesus and all of the grace that God wants for us. As we gather to receive the Blessed Sacrament, you are preparing to meet Jesus! Although you won’t see Jesus standing at the alter, he will be there.
Think for a moment back to the Mass, right after the homily … remember when we prayed the Nicene Creed? We started by saying: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” God created much more than we could ever imagine. Just like we believe that heaven is a real place and that we each have a guardian angel, so to do we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.
If you have not made your first Communion yet, the Church invites you to proceed in line, and when you approach Jesus, keep your arms crossed over your chest and bow your head. The deacon or priest will say a special prayer for you in hope that someday soon, you too will be able to receive Jesus.
Feast Days & Memorials
The following days can be connected to this month’s devotion. Click to learn more.
8 Divine Mercy Sunday
A take away for kids to memorize and/or include in their daily prayer.
This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me (Lk 22:19).
Questions to help propogate the faith with your children.
- How can we show reverence for the Eucharist?
- How does Jesus live within us?
- Why is it important to receive holy Communion?
Incorporate this month’s devotion with the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Bring the tradition of the faith to your children.
Many parishes offer some form of eucharistic adoration. If your parish does not, perhaps one nearby will. If not, remember that Jesus is always present in the tabernacle. For more information on taking your kids to adoration, read this article.
There are many different types of adoration. Here are some of the most popular:
- Forty Hours devotion: This type of devotion is to recall the 40 hours (Good Friday to Easter morning) that Jesus spent in the tomb.
- Perpetual adoration: This type or adoration occurs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! It focuses on remembering that Jesus is always with us.
- Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament: This is often celebrated as a type of service to celebrate a feast day or in conjunction with the Stations of the Cross. At the conclusion, the celebrant will bless the faithful with the holy Eucharist.
- Procession: This is a type of “parade” where the faithful will often gather to pray for a specific purpose or to celebrate a feast day. The procession will often involve saying the rosary.
Learn about God’s infinite mercy.
Over the centuries, there have been many eucharistic miracles. It is important to note that the Church does not require the faithful to believe these as miracles, but they can be a source of hopefulness and faith.
A more recent occurrence happened April 28, 2001, at the Church of St. Mary in Chirattakonam, India. As the priest prepared to place the Eucharist in a monstrance for adoration, three red dots appeared on the Blessed Sacrament. Those present were surprised and so they prayed before the Eucharist until the priest secured Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.
The priest went to the archbishop to inform him, and the two returned to the tabernacle where the Eucharist was kept. The three red dots had transformed to show a face with a crown of thorns! The Holy Eucharist remains at the Church of Saint Mary and is displayed often for adoration.
Help the church to grow within your own community.
Many parishioners are not able to attend Mass due to poor health. Consider volunteering to visit a shut-in member of your parish, particularly on a Sunday. Older children could be invited to read the day’s Gospel. Younger children could color a picture relating to the gospel to give to the parishioner. You could also help facilitate a eucharistic minister to distribute Communion to those whom are homebound.
For more information about monthly devotions, see the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: #20, #32, #190-191 and the Catholic Encyclopedia: Special Devotions for Months
Brian Smith is a stay-at-home dad of two girls. He and his wife of more than 10 years enjoy traveling, the outdoors and discovering new things with their children. He can be reached at [email protected].