As part of my daughter’s American Heritage Girls troop service hours, each family is asked to volunteer at the 24 hour Adoration Chapel.
Doesn’t seem like a lot of time to give, but with small children in tow, it can be a little challenging. Here’s how we succeeded.
1. Explain the Purpose
My children are familiar with the concept of Adoration, but since they are still small and rambunctious, we’ve only been able to drop in, say a Hail Mary and Our Father, then say, “Bye, Jesus!” to the delight of the retirees trying to pray.
When our day came to serve in the Chapel, I explained to Rachel why it was important, and what I expect from her. She’s six, so my expectations of her are different than her brothers and Baby Maeve. She’s old enough to understand why we’re respectful and quiet, and old enough to comply pretty well.
2. Have a Plan
Rachel’s troop meeting was finishing up during my time slot in the Chapel, so I went on ahead with the baby.
I had all intentions of starting a Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet before Rachel arrived, but Maeve had other plans. She was wiggly and chatty, so I spent a half hour just letting her make her own joyful noise unto the Lord.
While I sat there, I thought of Mary, holding Our Lord as an infant, while she chatted with Joseph or other friends.
After Rachel arrived, I gave her a choice. I offered her the option of saying the Rosary along with me or to read the story of Our Lady of Lourdes with me.
She chose a story, so we settled in with our book. This offered me the chance to teach her about one of Mary’s appearances, explain about our devotion to her, and show her the importance of the saints in our lives.
Other ideas I have: religious stickers, soft sided books, children’s religious music (with headphones) – activities to keep little hands occupied, but quietly.
3. Set Reasonable Expectations
My children are all energy all the time: they don’t sit quietly at home for an hour, so I know that expecting them to sit quietly at the Adoration Chapel for an hour would be ridiculous.
Start out small. Stop in for 10 minutes at first. Stretch it to 15 or 20 minutes slowly. Be sure and visit when everyone is well fed and rested. Nap time is not the time to drop in.
4. Check out the Scenery
Point things out to your children. Show them the monstrance, the altar, the candles, or any statues and explain who or what they represent. Show them the stained glass windows, or the books that people can read while they sit in the Real Presence.
In my parish, Eucharistic Adoration is held in the main church. This offers me a chance to spread out with my brood, and stretch our legs a bit. We can walk around and look at the panels for Stations of the Cross or check out the Baptismal font if my little people get fidgety.
5. Congratulate Yourself
No matter how brief your visit, rejoice in the fact that you spent time with Our Lord. During this Year of Faith, it’s time to encourage a deeper relationship with Christ and a deeper understanding of our beautiful Faith. There’s never a better time to bring our children to Jesus, to know and love him more.
Copyright © 2012, Dianna Kennedy
3 responses to “A How-To Guide for Adoration with Small Children”
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It is wonderful how you take something as spiritually profound as Adoration and break it down in to practical steps for small children.
Sometimes I think that the task of instilling spiritual virtue in children can seem so overwhelming that we need more simple, straightforward advice.
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