Of all the rituals and colorful ceremonies that children see performed in church, perhaps the most misunderstood of all is the sacrament of Communion. Seeing the bread and wine (or grape juice) used in this rite, children often think that refreshments are being served.
- Attending his first Mass, one small boy listened as the altar boys rang the bells for the consecration, and yelled, "Come and get it!" Whereupon those who were to take Communion went and got it.
- A boy of three was intrigued by the Communion rite and watched every move of the priest until he finished by wiping the chalice. Then the boy turned to his mother and said, "He's doing dishes, Mom... now can we go home?"
- Kneeling beside his mother at Mass after she returned from taking Communion, a boy asked, "How does that pill taste?" Since she was praying silently to herself, she didn't answer. Then he tried again: "It's the kind of pill that puts you to sleep, huh?"
- After doing her best to explain the ceremony to her daughter, a young mother went to the Communion rail. As she returned, the girl asked, "When will it be my turn to eat lunch with God?"
- Trying to acquaint her five-year-old son with the ritual of the Mass, a mother gave her boy a picture missal so he could see in front of him what was going on at the altar during Communion. The boy watched as the priest opened the tabernacle, removed the chalice, and drank the wine. Then the boy pointed to the tabernacle in his book and asked, "Is that the little refrigerator where he keeps his drinks?"
- While visiting his aunt in Columbus, Mississippi, a second-grader attended the local Methodist Church with her. After they knelt at the altar and partook of the Communion bread and wine, the boy asked, "Aunt Audrey, is that all we'll have to eat up in Heaven?"
- A young married couple who were baptized into the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood brought along their seven-year-old son, Michael, to see the ceremony. His mother explained in advance about baptism, but she had forgotten to explain that Communion would also be offered to the entire congregation. After the service, she asked him what he thought of the morning's events. "Well," he said, "I didn't think much of the cookies, and there wasn't enough juice."
- Another woman brought her grandson along for Episcopal services. The boy watched as the priest at the altar prepared Communion and said, "Look, Grandma... God is making Kool-Aid."
- When his father returned and knelt in prayer after receiving the Blessed Host, a 14-year-old asked, "They got any chocolate ones up there?"
- Not all children are disappointed by what's served at Communion. A teenager's mother tells me he came home after a week at church camp to report that Communion was the only decent meal they had.
- A boy overheard his parents talking about going to the Lord's Supper and told his brother, "I hope we have chicken!"
- The last word on Communion comes from a four-year-old Catholic boy who told his dad what had happened in church that day: "That Father called on some of the people to come down front, and he gave them each an Alka-Seltzer [or a Mentos] !"
Dick Van Dyke
Submitted by Joanne Duncalf
Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul