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 | By Joey Reistroffer

Teaching Our Kids About the Real Presence Means Making It Real and Present

Sometimes it takes a couple of eggs to teach second-graders about the Real Presence.

With a little prayer, it'll be a lesson that will stick with them for life, according to Kristine Wilcox. She teaches about the eucharistic to children at Blessed Sacrament School in Charleston. This spring, they prepared to receive their first communion.

In one lesson, she showed her students two shelled eggs. Wilcox pointed out that both eggs looked the same, both eggs felt the same, and both eggs smelled the same. Then she asked the students if they believed her when she told them that one was hard boiled and one was raw. She said the students believed she was telling them the truth that the insides were different.

“There’s only one way to find out!” she exclaimed. Wilcox said she then pulled out a clear container and smashed one of the eggs.

Hard boiled. She said the kids all squealed in excitement.

“Do you believe that the inside of this other egg is raw, that it’s different?” Wilcox then asked the youngsters.

They all shouted, "Yes!"

So she smashed the second egg. The insides oozed everywhere as her students jumped up and down in excitement.

Then, Wilcox pulled the lesson together, explaining that Jesus tells us that he is present in the Eucharist, called the Real Presence.

“He is not asking us to question it or to scientifically prove it. He is simply asking us to believe him and what he says," she said to her students.

She told them that many times our humanness is not able to understand this mystery of faith. We need to trust what Jesus is telling us is the truth, like they trusted and believed her about the eggs.

“When an egg is put in boiling water, the inside changes, even though we cannot actually see the change,” Wilcox said. 

Transubstantiation is the same concept, she explained. When a priest consecrates the bread and wine, even though we cannot see the change, the Real Presence of Jesus is then in the Eucharist. We do receive the real Jesus when we approach the sacrament of holy communion.

“What was so beautiful to see was the innocent trust and full acceptance that the children had when they were learning about God and the sacraments,” she said. “It personally awoke my understanding when Jesus says to us, ‘Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

When a fifth-grade student in a religious education class at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg was asked why he believed Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist, he responded: “Because the Bible tells me so.”

It’s as simple as that.

Annette Parnell, a religious education teacher at St. Paul, said she likes to keep things simple for her students.

“You have to meet the kids at the level they know,” she said. “Tell them the story about Jesus the Good Shepherd, then that leads into the Eucharist. Build the Church theology around the Good Shepherd and how the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. The Good Shepherd Bible verses pull a lot out for the kids,” Parnell added.

To really focus on the truth of the Eucharist, Wilcox modeled a class project after the work of Blessed Carlos Acutis, an Italian youth who died at 15 years old. Before his death, Acutis created an online catalog of as many eucharistic miracles as he could find. Wilcox said the project was meant to also educate any parents who may have lost sight of the Real Presence.

“The goal was to not only educate the students, but also bring in their families on the journey of discovering the true eucharistic mystery,” she said.

“Blessed Carlo was known to say, ‘The Eucharist is my highway to heaven,’ and ‘Eucharistic miracles can be useful and faithful aids to our faith … to help us go beyond the visible and admit the existence of something beyond … something that cannot be scientifically demonstrated.’ His efforts have now become the Vatican-approved International Exhibition of the Eucharistic Miracles of the World,” she added.

Wilcox's work is just the start toward renewing Catholics’ belief in the Eucharist. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of eggs to open the eyes of those doubting that Jesus is in the Real Presence. And sometimes it takes more of a miracle to solidify that belief — a eucharistic miracle.

Joseph Reistroffer is a long-time writer who teaches religious education classes at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Email him at