I’m going to apologize in advance, because this will be long.
I have always enjoyed Good Friday services, but since having children, it has turned from a prayerful event to something akin to torture. I simply have stopped attending because I am unable to entertain my 3 kids for 3 hours. So when I saw that the Lutheran church where I attend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) was offering a Family Devotional time, walking through the last days of Jesus’ life on earth, I thought it was a good opportunity. They had a nursery for the baby, a preschool program for my 4-year-old, and then I would accompany my schoolaged child through a still-motion reinactment of the events. They had a reflection time at each stop, it was really very thought-provoking and yet still age-appropriate, and not at all contradictory to our Catholic faith.
I was shocked when I picked up my 4-year-old and in the car on the way home she said that she “had the body of Christ and the blood of Christ, which was just grape juice.”
I immediately e-mailed the program director and asked what the program downstairs consisted of. Here is her response, in full:
The preschoolers took a journey through Jesus last week on earth—just like we did on the main level—visiting different rooms. Here’s a short.
Room 1: Palm Sunday/Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Bible story about what happened on Palm Sunday from children’s bible or a re-telling
Room 2: Last Supper and Foot Washing
Have a re-creation of Passover Meal set and communion. Have wafers and grape juice there for visual prop, if children want to eat them fine - they won’t be consecrated so it won’t be taking communion
Read story of the last supper from a children’s bible or re-tell it
Room 3: Good Friday
Have a big cross propped up draped with a black cloth
Re-tell or read from children’s bible how Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins
Room 4: Empty Tomb
Set up a tent in the room as our tomb.
Have a big stone as a prop.
Re-tell or read from children’s bible the story of the women going to the tomb and finding it empty
Room 5: Easter Sunday/Resurrection Party!
Re-tell/read from children’s bible story of Jesus resurrection - maybe how people met him on the road, how he showed Thomas his wounds? Get the point across that he is really risen!
Room 6: Resurrection Egg story/activity room
Read the Resurrection Eggs story/activity book (We already have this resource - a cute book you read and open an egg with a surprise in each as you tell the story
Your child’s comments had to stem from the visit to the Last Supper room. Our room leader read the Bible story about the last supper and quoted Jesus’ words: “Take and eat, this is my body given for you. Drink this all of you, this is my blood shed for you.” We had bread and grape juice as props in the room—and let children taste them if they wanted to. My best guess is that the room leader told the children that the communion elements were examples of what we use when we have communion—meaning they were not consecrated.
Make sense? Call me if we need to chat further.
Thank you for coming to our Good Friday event.
I am very concerned about this. My daughter keeps asking for the blood of Christ -by which she means grape juice. I have spoken with her about how the Eucharist is holy, which means “set apart” and as such it isn’t something that we play with or pretend, it is different than anything else that we do each week. Also that the real blood of Christ is what big kids (like her sister, later on this Easter season) and adults are privileged to receive at mass. It isn’t grape juice at all, but the body, blood, soul, and divinity, of Jesus.
I have no intention of having my children participate in any more of their children’s programming (like vacation bible school, which they have attended in the past). I am planning on leaving my leadership position at MOPS. I am so saddened, though, at the community that I am leaving behind, as my Catholic church offers no programs for mothers, and no Bible studies that work with young children.
I have attended a Bible study there in the past as well, as it is offered during the day and they have childcare. The problem with any studies offered in my church is that they’re offered in the evenings, which leaves my husband with the kids, and in my experience it has fostered a feeling of resentment between us.
Anyway, my question is this: do I need to sever all ties with this church? What if I cannot find a Catholic alternative to the programming I’ve enjoyed there? I have a real need for meaningful mom-to-mom interaction during the day. And I’m not the right kind of personality to start up a group at my own church - I’m not a leader or outgoing by nature.
Thank you for reading my long dilemma. God bless us all this Easter season!