Yesterday I was privileged to visit a delightful primary school in Portsmouth diocese where during my visit the local deacon came to do the monthly afternoon of Eucharistic Adoration for the Key Stage 2 pupils and staff.
This was a simple but deeply prayerful arrangement whereby the Blessed Sacrament was respectfully exposed in a fine monstrance in the school hall with candles and flowers and class by class were quietly brought in to genuflect and sit near to Jesus in the Sacrament for a period of 10-15 minutes of totally silent adoration and prayer.
I have to say that for a Friday afternoon when children are normally [understandably] getting a bit restless looking forward to the end of the school day and the fun and relaxation of the weekend; these youngsters were impeccable in their sense of reveerence, awe and respect in the Real Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
The teachers [not all Catholic] had obviously prepared them well and they were accustomed to being prayerful and calm in a meditative mood and spirit.
Two insights from Scripture struck me, as I prayed with the children and watched them keeping watch with the Lord.
1. The words of Jesus to “come away and rest a while” which these children were doing amidst the busyness of the school day.
2. And the exhortation of St. Paul to “put on the mind of Christ”
As I sat there watching them pray and be calm it occurred to me that children don’t need to latest ‘fad’ of mindfulness techniques to bring fruits of inner calm and serenity to their sometimes fractious lives but time spent with Jesus, the Prince of Peace who alone can give the peace the world cannot give.
The children were open and friendly, genuinely interested in me as a visitor and happy in their own skin as it were because they were being educated and cared for in an atmosphere of extraordinary warmth and love. The head teacher was like a mother to all the children [all 480 of them!] and seemed to know the name of every single one. It was Catholic education at its best; natural, holistic and familial.
My final thought as I came away was the words of the late Joachim Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne (RIP) who once said that “the face is the monstrance of the soul.” As I looked on the innocent faces of these children gazing on the absolute purity of the Sacred Host in the Blessed Sacrament through the monstrance, it was a moment of profound grace to have one’s faith in the beauty and dignity of the ‘sacred altar’ of the innocent soul of a child restored and the obligation that places upon us as parents, teachers and adult influencers in the lives of the young to do ALL we can to uphold and preserve that sacred reality, for one day we WILL be judged on how we have preserved that ‘altar’ not just for our own children but all children and young people who come within the sphere of our influence.
I will be away to ‘rest a while’ myself for the next few weeks so no blogging or any social media for me for a bit so as to waste time with the Lord amidst my loved ones. May you all enjoy the grace and blessing of a time of recreation and some restorative silence, so needed in oour world of today.
Peace be with you!