" Communicants are also required to fast in preparation to receive Communion. Currently, this requirement is a fast of one hour prior to Communion of all food and drink other than water and medication. A longer fast of at least three hours, or from midnight, is preferred. Understanding the seriousness of these guidelines helps instill respect for taking Communion in students. This helps students understand that this isn't something that they just do at Mass without thought. Instead, they must prepare themselves physically and spiritually.
Lastly, students should be taught why Communion is taken so frequently. The Eucharist facilitates a union between Man and Christ. Through this lesson, students learn that Communion is a spiritually nourishing event, while also obeying the Lord's instructions to eat and drink His Body and Blood. Each time a communicant takes part in Holy Communion, this brings an increased level of sanctifying grace to their soul, as the recipient opens himself up to Christ and empties his soul of sin. Students learn through this that each Communion, the Lord's grace enables them to keep His commandments. As Father Peffley describes, the Eucharist as a means of reorienting the communicant toward Christ. This builds spiritual value in the tradition, for the student.
Two Items Not to Teach in Eucharist Education:
As Eisner (1985) notes, a student's educational experience is not only affected by what they are taught, but also by what isn't taught. The null curricula for religious education centering on the Eucharist should include how the Catholic Eucharistic tradition differs from other Christian faiths and controversies surrounding the Eucharist, such as the physical transformation of the Host and Wine vs. It simply being a representation of Christ. Both of these topics are important discussions to have; however, for primary school-aged children they are really not appropriate. At this age, the children should be focused on understanding the basics of the Eucharist, learning about the miracle of transubstantiation, and how to prepare themselves spiritually and physically to receive Communion. Education should also be focused on why the Catholic faith takes Communion and what a reverent tradition it is. In this way, students can build a respectful base of knowledge on the Eucharist tradition, in Catholicism. When they are older, and better able to discuss things in a more mature manner, than bringing in the differences of the Eucharist in other faith as well as religious controversies is far more appropriate.
In the end, the Eucharist is one of the most Holy traditions of the Catholic church. For a short period of time, the Lord is physically present during the Eucharist. Although God is everywhere, as the Creator of all things, this is a spiritual presence. Rymartz (2007) puts forth that there is often a difference between what is actually being taught and what is supposed to be taught in the classroom (p. 12). For this reason, religious education concerning the Eucharist is critical for students. For Australian primary school students, the four things that should be taught include: the scripture concerning the Eucharist, the transubstantiation concept, receiving Communion guidelines, and why Communion is taken so often. Of course, at this age, there are things that shouldn't be taught to children. Children at this age are not well-equipped to discuss concepts such as the differences between the Catholic Eucharist tradition and that of other Christen faiths. Nor is the topic of controversies concerning the Eucharist appropriate for this age group. For that reason, these are two topics that should be held until the children are older and already have a respectful base of knowledge concerning the Eucharist.
Eisner, E. (1985). The educational imagination: On the design and evaluation of school programs (pp. 87-97). New York: Macmillan.
Peffley, Fr. (No date). The Catholic Church's teaching on the Eucharist. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from http://transporter.com/FatherPeffley/Spirituality/TeachEucharist.html.
Ryan, M. (2006). "Catholic traditions and the classroom religious education program." In Religious education in Catholic schools. (pp.169-196) Melbourne: David Lovell Press.
Rymartz, R. (2007). "At the coalface: Teaching about Jesus." Journal…