How to Take Your Child to Adoration

A monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament exposed with two lit candles.

“If we get in front of the sun, we get sun tans. . . but when we get in front of Jesus in the Eucharist, we become saints.” -Blessed Carlo Acutis

Several years ago someone asked my husband and I what we wanted for our children as they grow up. I think the questioner assumed we would say something like “college education,” or “good jobs,” or “fame and beauty,” but my husband and I immediately agreed: we want our children to grow into good and holy adults. We want them to be saints.

We want our kids to get nice, deep, holiness-tans from standing in front of Jesus.

Our family is definitely not perfect. We mess up. A lot. But we do our best to recognize when we mess up (the hard part) and to do better the next time (the harder part). So despite my husband’s and my mutual agreement that we want our precious ones to grow up into saints, we recently realized that we have never brought our children to Adoration since they graduated from infancy.

Both my husband and I used to attend Adoration regularly, but as family and work responsibilities expanded and the Global Pandemic™ pushed away in-church prayers, we fell out of the habit. 

This year, our oldest child is preparing to receive his First Eucharist and as part of his catechetical preparation our diocese encourages us to bring him to Adoration and build in him “an understanding of the prayer of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.” 

If you aren’t familiar with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (usually referred to as Adoration), it is a prayer opportunity for people to come hang out with Jesus in the Eucharist outside of Mass. The faithful can pray before the Eucharist set into a super-fancy receptacle called a monstrance which highlights the simultaneous humility and majesty of the Incarnation and of God’s gifting of Godself to us as an earthly. Many parishes have special side chapels for Adoration but some will set up a monstrance on the main altar.

There are special prayers and ceremonies for when Adoration starts (exposition) and ends (benediction), but in between there’s a huge variety of how the faithful can spend their time with Jesus in the Eucharist. Some people sing or play music, some read from Scripture or the saints, some sit in silence, pray a rosary, or write in a prayer journal. Sometimes the parish will provide guided meditations, someone will give a spiritual talk, or a worship leader will lead a rosary or chaplet. What or how you pray during Adoration really doesn’t matter; simply standing before the Eucharist gives you a holiness-tan, to borrow Blessed Carlo Acutis’s metaphor. 

If there’s no one directing prayer, though, the silence of the Adoration chapel can feel enormous even to adults. When bringing a child to Adoration, preparing your little one’s heart (and mind and bladder) for going before the Eucharist is super helpful for promoting a fruitful experience.

In anticipation of bringing my three kids (ages 7, 5, and 2) to Adoration for the first time since they were old enough to complain, I asked dozens of Catholic parents and educators for advice. Between their experiences and mine, I developed the following strategies:

Talk with your child in advance about the Eucharist and Adoration. 

  • Talk to your kids about the basics of the Eucharist: what is the Eucharist? What does it taste like? Why do we eat God? 
  • Talk about why you (the parent/guardian) love the Eucharist, about how faith in Jesus’s Incarnation, death, and Resurrection, gives you joy or sustenance in your life
  • Explain what will happen when you go to Adoration—kids like to know The Plan
  1. what to do
  2. whether to be quiet or noisy
  3. who else will be there
  4. how long you will stay
  5. etcetera!

Ideally you talk to your kids about the Eucharist multiple times a week on different occasions (i.e., when eating garlic bread on pasta night you might mention that the Eucharist nourishes our souls the way ordinary bread nourishes our bodies; on the way to school you might talk about how exciting it is to receive God into your belly; when laughing at a funny cartoon you might bring up God’s sense of humor in communicating Godself to us through what is basically a cracker, etc.) 

BUT don’t delay a visit to Adoration because you forgot to talk about the Eucharist on pasta night! Have these conversations on the car ride / metro / walk to the church if you need to.

Pack a bag with holy stuff to do. Ideas include:

  • Eucharist-themed coloring sheets & crayons / markers
  • Children’s Bible / other spiritual reading
  • Rosary (and a “How to pray the rosary” guide)
  • Examination of conscience / questions to guide prayer (see below for example questions!)

Right before you go into the Adoration, take care of business!

  • Go to the bathroom
  • Eat a snack
  • Get the wiggles out
  • Plan something fun before / after: doughnuts, playground, play with friends, pizza, ice cream, movie, hike, etc.

Start small. 5-10 minutes is a lot of concentrated prayer time for small children. Toddlers might only last 2-3 minutes. Remember, Jesus is shining on your children like the sun shines on the beach. Simply being in the presence of the Eucharist is a gift!

Guide your child in what to do while in Adoration. Practice prayer movements like bowing and making the Sign of the Cross and suggest / lead your child in various prayer styles and practices while he or she learns what kinds of prayer suit him / her best. Ideas include:

  • On the way in and out, kneel with both knees, bow, and make the sign of the Cross
  • Go right up to the monstrance to say hello to Jesus
  • Start small: 5-10 minutes 
  • Offer guidance in prayer by leading a rosary, Divine Mercy chaplet, or asking questions 
  • Sing hymns (if everyone in the chapel agrees)
  • Spend a few moments smiling at Jesus like he’s your best friend
  • Look at and think about the artwork in the chapel. What story is being told in this artwork? What does it mean? Why is it here in church?
  • Offer a prayer of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and petition

Debrief after Adoration.

  • Talk about what happened: how the child / you felt, what you saw and did, etc.
  • Praise your child for coming to the Lord
  • Do something fun

Things to Do & Questions to Think about

During Adoration

Pray 1 of each type of prayer:

  • Adoration: tell God something you love about God and / or Creation: Ex: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation.”
  • Contrition: tell God about something you are sorry you did: Ex: “God, I am sorry I hit my brother.”
  • Thanksgiving: say “Thank you!” to God for something wonderful in your life: Ex: “Thank you, God, for my family, friends, Last Kids on Earth, lollipops, playgrounds, and potatoes.”
  • Petition: ask God for something for yourself or someone else: Ex: “Please, Lord, protect those under attack, help me do well on my spelling test, and bring peace to someone who is angry or sad.”
  • Tell Jesus 3 things you’re thankful for
  • Enjoy God’s presence
  • Color a coloring page based on the readings from Sunday or a favorite Bible story
  • Color a coloring page based on the Eucharist
  • Read the Bible
  • Read other spiritual reading (saints stories are great for small children)
  • Smile at Jesus
  • Pray a decade of the rosary
  • Try the Hallow App’s children’s content
  • Say “Hi Jesus,” or “I love you Jesus”
  • Speak to Jesus in your heart. Tell Him. . .
    - something you are really excited about this week
    - something making you nervous or worried
    - something about your family
    - all about someone who needs prayers/blessings and why
    - something that makes you very happy
    - something that makes you scared
    - something that is bothering you
  • Think about questions relating to the Liturgical season: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter
  • Do the Stations of the Cross with a reflection

Not going to remember all of this once you turn off your tech? No problem. Take this free printable as a guide when you and your little one go to Adoration together.

Written by the Holy Rukus