What could be a better time than the time before Thanksgiving to study the greatest thanksgiving ever: the Holy Eucharist? What could be a better way than study the way great artists, poets and composers express thanksgiving in their work?
Here is a unit study plan for teachers and homeschoolers:
Unit Study: Thanksgiving in the Eucharist:
Talk about the meaning of the word Eucharist:
"sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Communion," mid-14c., from Old French eucariste, from Late Latin eucharistia, from Greek eukharistia "thanksgiving, gratitude," later "the Lord's Supper," from eukharistos "grateful," from eu "well" (see eu-) + stem of kharizesthai "show favor," from kharis "favor, grace," from PIE root *gher- (2) "to like, want." Eukharisteo is the usual verb for "to thank, to be thankful" in the Septuagint and Greek New Testament. Related: Eucharistic.
Thanksgiving is the Eucharist ( Greek eucharistia means thanksgiving) established at the Last Supper.
Read the passages in Scripture.
Read and compare:
Matthew 26: 26-28
1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Pay attention to the words of the consecration at mass or divine liturgy.
Read about the Eucharist in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I. The Eucharist - Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life, 1327 ff..."In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking."138 The link leads to the Vatican's free online version of the Catechism.
Here are some books about the Eucharist:
I Went to Mass by Katie Warner, illustrated by Meg Whalen, tells the story of a little boy discovering the parts of the Mass in rhyme for ages three to six.
The Holy Eucharist is a coloring and activity book book by Virginia Helen Richards, FSP. This book is a wonderful way to incorporate preschool and elementary students into your study of the Eucharist.
Jesus Is With Us Always: The Story of the Eucharist by Eileen Cunis was created to be used in First Communion classes for children four to eight but is also interesting for older students.
Come, Let Us Adore: A Child's Guided Journal For Adoration Of The Blessed Sacrament by Jennifer Sharpe helps children ages eight to thirteen focus on the meaning of the sacrament with fun activities and space to journal their thought.
God Is Near Us: The Eucharist. The Heart of Life by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, better known as Pope Emeritus Benedict XI, is a study of the Eucharist by a great theologian for older teens and adults.
Find a painting of the Last Supper in your church. Look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper (pictured above), copy it or copy part of it, read about it. Go to the library and order a book with high quality prints. Even better - see the original. Leonardo's Last Supper is the most famous western Renaissance rendering of this event.
This icon of the Last Supper by late 17th century Russian iconographer Simon Ushakov is a beautiful eastern depiction of the event painted in the ancient Byzantine iconographic tradition. Study it , copy it and compare it to Leonardo's.
A Gift For Matthew by Nick Muzekan, illustrated by Masha Lobastov teaches children ages four to twelve about the sacred art of iconography.
Memorize poems of thanksgiving and have your kids copy them in their best handwriting.
You could start with Caemnon’s Hymn, the oldest poem in the English language, which was called l Anglo Saxon at the time. The poem was composed in alliterative verse (look it up), just like some of the poems in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Does it remind you of some of the poems in the Lord of the Rings? Tolkien was a professor of Anglo Saxon. He composed some of his own alliterative verse for his books. Here is a good one by Theoden in The Two Towers: Now for wrath, now for ruin, and the red dawn.
Modern English translation of Caedmon's Hymn
Now [we] must honour the guardian of heaven,
the might of the architect, and his purpose,
the work of the father of glory[b]
as he, the eternal lord, established the beginning of wonders;
he first created for the children of men[c]
heaven as a roof, the holy creator
Then the guardian of mankind,
the eternal lord, afterwards appointed the middle earth
the lands for men,[d] the Lord almighty.
For more thanksgiving poems follow this link:
And don't forget the psalms!
Learn and sing hymns of thanksgiving/Eucharistic hymns (the links are youtube videos) :
Adoro Te Devote by Thomas Aquinas:
We Thank You, God Most High
Or sing your favorite Eucharistic hymn from your church’s hymn book.
Look for Pilgrim Fathers materials in the previous post: Thanksgiving Part I: Of Plymouth Plantation. Stay tuned for Thanksgiving III about Catholic pilgrims.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving