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G o d ’s G i f t

Tom McGrath

TOGETHER Eucharist

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SESSION One G ROWN U PS

Belonging 10 SESSION 1 Belonging

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When I was in college, I went off to study in Europe. I was young and disenchanted with life in my family. I fancied that by traveling the world, I might answer that aching question

life

lesson

inside: “Where do I belong?” Before I left, an elderly aunt urged me to visit relatives in Ireland. When I did, I was overcome by the warm welcome I received. I’d roamed big cities and small towns and rural pathways for months, always amazed but not feeling a heart connection. Then I met my great-uncle Paddy. Paddy lived in a tiny town where my grandmother was born, in the small stone cottage with a dirt floor and only a hearth for warmth and cooking. His face beamed as I walked up the road to meet him. He invited me into his home as if he’d been waiting years for just this moment. I stepped into his modest house, and as my

eyes grew accustomed to the dim light, I was stunned. There, on every wall, were photos of my relatives—cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. I saw my parents’ wedding photo and, next to it, my own First Holy Communion photo. I had been barely aware of this man, yet he’d known me all my life. As we sat together, eating and drinking and telling stories, I realized I had traveled thousands of miles from home just to discover how much I had always belonged. —Tom McGrath, author of Raising Faith-Filled Kids, Loyola Press

Pray for Your Family God, help us to be open to the grace to accept one another unconditionally into the life of our family.

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YOUR CHILD’S SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT: Including Others

You play a major role in preparing your child to value the Eucharist throughout his or her life. This series of articles will focus on specific ways you can weave spiritual lessons into the ordinary opportunities of daily life to better appreciate the meaning of the Eucharist. Jesus had an overriding desire “that all may be one.” Accounts of his public life are filled with instances in which he overcame barriers that kept certain people— the sick, the unclean, the different, the stranger—on the outskirts of society. His greatest gift to us, the gift of himself in the Eucharist, is an outward expression of his inner desire for our union with God and with one another. One way to prepare our children to celebrate the Eucharist is to help them overcome the temptation to separate people into “us” and “them” and instead cultivate a willingness to recognize our common humanity. You can help.

1

Encourage your child to treat all children with compassion, particularly those who are “on the outs” with the accepted crowd.

2

When encountering people outside your normal circle of friends and family, make a habit of focusing on the similarities you share even as you appreciate the differences.

3

Don’t allow derogatory language when talking about others in your home. Speak of others with the respect due to them as beloved children of God.

Catholic Fact Baptism is the priceless gift of God’s saving grace. Born into Original Sin, even infants need this new birth as a child of God. The Church has baptized infants since the era of the New Testament.

One Family’s Story Over the years my children have been conduits of God’s presence for me. They are both typical teenage boys in many respects. But they have clearly been touched by God. Several years ago, my now 19-year-old came home with a note requesting a parent-teacher conference. I went with some trepidation. To my surprise, his teacher wanted to praise my son and to let me know what a difference he had made in the life of another student, a boy named John who had an intellectual disability. This young person was mainstreamed into the public school and experienced many challenges fitting in with the other students. My son A.J. recognized the problem and had taken it upon himself to befriend John and include him in his group of friends. John blossomed, gained self-

confidence, and surpassed everyone’s expectations. I was amazed, proud, and humbled by my child’s gift of self to someone in need. I knew he had a friend named John. I had no inkling, however, that John had special needs. After the meeting I spoke with A.J. about John. He told me that just because John had a hard time and was different did not mean that he should be tormented or ignored. I saw in my child not only a lesson for me in recognizing my own (sometimes hidden) prejudices, but the gift of God’s grace shining forth from an adolescent boy.

—Mary Ellen McBee, Fort Worth, TX Read more family stories at www.loyolapress.com/godsgift.

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Learn

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Together Follow Steps 1 to 4 to work through Chapter 1 of God’s

Gift: Eucharist. This chapter helps us learn that God invites us to celebrate the Eucharist.

Step 1

Step 2 Let’s Imagine . . . . . . we are all plants in a garden. There are all different kinds of plants in this garden. Some are big, bright flowers. Some are delicious tomatoes. Some are even scratchy, prickly shrubs. What kind of plant are you? Why? Discuss this for a while.

3-Minute Family Retreat Gather in a comfortable place. Ask all present to stand and take three slow, deep breaths. When all are ready, invite them to have a seat and close their eyes. Slowly read aloud the following meditation: Think about a time when you were the new kid, maybe at school or on a team or at camp. Picture yourself there. You’re probably not quite sure how things work or who everyone is. Pause for a while. Now remember the first moment when you finally stopped feeling like the new kid. How did you know you belonged? Did you get the hang of a routine? Did someone tell a joke to help you relax? Did the teacher or coach say hi? Did you make a friend? Belonging is a great feeling. We all belong in different ways—as students at our school, as residents of our neighborhood, or as members of our family. We also belong to God’s family. Let’s open our eyes and learn about belonging.

No matter what kind of plants we might be, we are all part of this garden. Someone planted each one of us here, and each of us is important for a beautiful garden, even the prickly shrubs. It just wouldn’t be the same without each of us. We all belong. Jesus’ disciples were the first people to belong to the Church. Let’s read about how God sent the Holy Spirit to those disciples to help them plant the seeds of our faith. Turn to pages 2–3 in your child’s book and read aloud the Scripture story “The Coming of the Holy Spirit.” This passage from Acts of the Apostles 2:1–4,32–41 describes Pentecost. Next, discuss the following questions and, if your child has not already done so, complete the sticker activity: What happened while the disciples and Mary were praying together? (A wind blew and flames like fire appeared over their heads. The Holy Spirit came.) What did Peter tell the people outside? (He said Jesus is risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. He said Jesus sent the Holy Spirit.) Picture yourself in the room for a minute. How would you feel and what would you have done when the wind blew and the flames appeared?

Eucharist Together

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Step 3 Let’s Dig In So how do you know that you belong? There are many ways. You might have a membership card. Gyms, museums, and libraries often give their members cards. You might have a uniform. Sports teams and scout groups wear uniforms. Schools sometimes have uniforms. Camps often have camp T-shirts. You might have chores. When we belong to a family, we are usually expected to do some chores to help out. You might know a password or special handshake for a club or group. You might be on a list—at school, at church, or at daycare.

You know you belong when people know your name. When we go somewhere and the people there greet us by name, we know we belong. Whatever else you might belong to, you always belong to God’s family. Let’s learn more about belonging to God’s Church and to Jesus. Turn to page 4 in your child’s book and read aloud “Belonging to the Church.” Continue with “Belonging to Jesus” on page 6. These sections introduce the Trinity and the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Each term is explained in your Family Guide Glossary. After you read these pages, continue the lesson. The Sacrament of Baptism can be celebrated in different ways. Often, Catholics are baptized when they are babies. But older children and grown-ups can be baptized too, if they have not been baptized before.

Step 4 Let’s Pray Engage in your family prayer ritual.

Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are signs we belong to the Catholic Church, so we celebrate these events. Let’s talk about the ways our own family celebrates. Spend some time sharing your memories of your child’s Baptism or any family celebrations of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion. When you are ready, engage in your family prayer ritual.

Belonging to God’s family is something to celebrate. Let’s thank and praise him for his welcome at Baptism and for the chance to share his life in the Eucharist. Turn to pages 8–9 in your child’s book. Choose one person to be the prayer leader, or you may read aloud Psalm 100 and use your own words to praise and thank God. Close by praying the Glory Be to the Father. See pages 60–61.

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IDEAS FOR LIVING THE LESSON

COMPLETE AS MANY OF THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES AS YOU AND YOUR CHILD DESIRE.

Membership Card

YO U WI LL N E E D > note cards > markers, crayons, or colored pencils

Children often delight in the trappings of adulthood, including membership cards. They seem so official! With your child, make a card signifying his or her membership in God’s family—making sure he or she understands it’s a “club” open to everyone. For example, the text might read “This certifies that Maria is an official member of God’s family.” Your child can decorate the card with stickers or draw hearts, crosses— anything he or she chooses. Your child may wish to make “God’s family” membership cards for each person in your family. You also might work together to create a set of membership cards specific to your own family, including siblings, grandparents, cousins, and others. Let your child help shape this conversation about belonging. Just be sure the result is inclusive. These family membership cards can serve as tokens of love for and acceptance of one another. Take out a large sheet of paper and in the center draw your kitchen or dining room table as seen from above. First, you and your child (and any other family members participating) can draw yourselves in your usual places at the table. Then add other people who sometimes join you at your table (on holidays or special occasions, for example) or who have joined you in the past but may no longer be with you. Continue to add people in your life who you feel belong at your table.

Who Belongs at Our Table?

Take a look at this “God’s eye” view of your table and realize that God is always present when you are there together. Jesus told us, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) Display this new artwork where you have your family meals.

A better understanding of different cultures, places, abilities, and experiences can foster sensitivity and acceptance in children. Learning about autism, for instance, can prepare your child to encounter and engage with someone who lives with autism, looking beyond the difference to see the person as a whole. Different as we all are, each of us has an important role in the Body of Christ, a role of great value.

We Are One

Expose your child to a variety of differences by exploring the many wonderful children’s books designed to encourage inclusion. Go together to your local library and let your child’s curiosity be your initial guide. Ask the librarian to recommend books that feature a different setting than yours—rural, urban, or suburban, for instance. Many books describe how children of different abilities and disabilities learn to get along. Others introduce children to a range of cultures and tell how family life is different and the same. Helping your child learn to recognize Jesus in each person he or she meets is a skill that will serve your child for a lifetime.

Eucharist Together

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Nourish Your Faith Together Easy-to-Use Online Resources

www.loyolapress.com Find a variety of relevant, reective, informative, and fun resources to help you and your family engage in a deeper friendship with God. From practical articles, saint stories, and cool activities for all ages to sacrament facts, parent tips, and the popular 3-Minute Retreat (available in both English and Spanish), www.loyolapress.com has something for every level of faith formation.

ISBN-13: 978-0-8294-4126-0 ISBN-10: 0-8294-4126-3

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God's Gift 2016 Eucharist Together Magazine  

God's Gift 2016 Eucharist Together Magazine  

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