The greatest gift at Christmas

Here’s a holiday suggestion. After you take your children and grandchildren to see Santa, take them to see Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. You’ll be surprised at what happens, and Jesus will be very happy to see them.

After all, if Jesus is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist, wouldn’t you expect him to do things we do? To talk, to listen, to love, to show compassion and enjoy a visit from little children.

Ever since Marie Moura started watching her grandson Johnathan several days a week, she has taken him to Eucharistic adoration at the chapel of St. Joseph Church in Shelton, where she conducts the Holy Hour for the Dying on Fridays at 1 pm. (Also at Our Lady of Fatima in Bridgeport on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at noon.)

Johnathan, who is 2-1/2, has developed a special personal relationship with Jesus. They talk to each other, they pray together, and sometimes they just stare at each other lovingly.

“I’ve been taking him to the chapel from day one,” she says. “I just love watching Johnathan looking at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament so intensely. I’ve learned so much from watching this little boy’s face.”

When they go there, they talk to Jesus in soft voices, pray and sing songs.

“He loves to be close to Jesus on the altar and look up at him,” she says. “Last time he got rosary beads from the table and went to kneel where Jesus was on the altar. He looked up and showed him the rosary and said, ‘Jesus, I’m praying the rosary! I’m praying. I’m praying, Jesus.’”

He has been visiting the Blessed Sacrament with his “Vovo” since he was one year old, and when he walks into the chapel, the first thing he does is spread his arms wide and say, “I love you this much, Jesus!”

It’s also a powerful lesson for adults about the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and an important reminder for all parents and grandparents never to miss an opportunity to tell children, from the very youngest age, about the greatest gift of our faith —the Holy Eucharist.

“Jesus wants us to do this,” Marie says. “I want Johnathan to know how important God is in our lives and to know how important the True Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist is. Just seeing his face in prayer and hearing him talk to Jesus has taught me so much.”

When Johnathan is looking at Jesus and taking to him, he tunes out his grandmother. During those moments, if she says something, he doesn’t respond, perhaps because he’s already in a conversation with Jesus.

“You could tell he’s in the presence of the Lord because he’s so focused on Jesus, and it’s amazing to watch,” she says. “I learn so much from this little boy who has so much love for Jesus, just watching him praying and blowing kisses to Jesus. I said, ‘Thank you, Lord, for giving me this opportunity to bring Johnathan here to know about you and for us to pray together and love you. And I pray he has this love for you the rest of his life.’”

One of the spiritual gifts her parents from Portugal gave her, her sister and brother, was to stress the importance of this fundamental teaching of our faith.

“That’s something my parents taught me,” she said. “I come from a religious family, and I was very blessed. I think the greatest gift they gave me was to teach me to love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”

It’s a lesson every parent should share with their children. “They’ll be surprised by the response because children aren’t afraid to show their love for him,” she said.

After all, it was Jesus, himself, who said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” And what better time to start than Christmas?