About a dozen years ago, I got into a bit of a dust-up about the Eucharist in the middle of a Lenten prayer group meeting.

The readings and reflections for the evening focused on Eucharist and what we believe as Catholics about the Real Presence. As a parish catechist in multiple grades, I guess I took it personally when one member of the group loudly and dramatically lamented how poor the teaching was in our parish on this subject.

As familiar as I was with children’s catechesis, I could not stand idly by without offering my contribution to the quickly forming opinion in the room.

So, I explained that we teach about the Eucharist at least four times during the education of our children. I knew this because I had taught it. We explored the mystery of the Sacrament of the Eucharist in second grade during immediate preparation for First Holy Communion. We reviewed the sacramental teaching on the Eucharist again in fifth grade. Then we dove deeply into models of the Eucharist as meal, memorial, and sacrifice in seventh grade. Finally, we revisited the Eucharist and its implications for living a life of justice in ninth grade in preparation for Confirmation.

And—I added—we should not forget the preaching that we would hear every year on Holy Thursday and Corpus Christi Sunday, or the many other occasions where homilies would touch on this central mystery of our faith.

My point was simple. For those who participate in the life of the parish, we never really stop learning about the Eucharist. The teaching becomes more layered and nuanced as we age to match our abilities to understand and our experiences of the sacrament. And it all starts in childhood.

This week’s two CatholicsRead titles are great resources for laying the groundwork for an enriching and community-based understanding of the Eucharist within both the parish and family.

First is Preparing for My First Communion from Catholic Book Publishing. This colorful book, filled with prayers and important teachings, will hold much meaning for young believers as they prepare to receive Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion.

Second is Catholic Corner Vol. 5: Prayers and Practices from GIA Publications, an engaging, year-round resource for teachers, catechists, parents, and anyone who works with and cares about the faith formation of young children. Invite children and adults into the richness of Catholic life by sharing activities and prayer opportunities together.

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Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.

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