We are Emily & Elizabeth.
Welcome to our Catholic Kids 101 page! We wanted to tell you our story in the best way possible so we asked our moms to help us. Both of our moms just happen to be writers! Elizabeth’s mom is a freelance writer and Emily’s mom works for a publishing company. The four of us worked together and we are really excited to be able to share our story with you!
Love your CK101 friends,
Emily & Elizabeth
Emily and Elizabeth were friends. Although they lived in the same neighborhood, just two doors down from each other, they did not go to the same school. Emily went to the public school and Elizabeth went to the nearby Catholic school called Holy Childhood Academy.
One Saturday morning Elizabeth invited Emily over to play and stay for lunch.
When Emily arrived, Elizabeth took Emily to her bedroom to show her the new doll that her grandma had sent her. The girls played with all of Elizabeth’s dolls for a while and then they looked at some of her other things. Elizabeth showed Emily the beautiful crystal bead Rosary that was a gift from her Godparents for her First Holy Communion last year. At first Emily thought it was a “diamond” necklace but Elizabeth explained to her what it really was. She told Emily about the "Our Father" prayer and how it was the prayer that Jesus Himself taught us. Then she told her about the mighty Archangel Gabriel coming to Mary to ask her to be Jesus’ Mother and how that was the beginning of the “Hail Mary” prayer. She told Emily that when she prayed her Rosary, her prayers went straight up to Heaven and were like beautiful roses when they arrived. Jesus was so happy to receive them!
Emily liked it when Elizabeth talked about God and holy things. It made her heart feel happy! Emily’s dad and mom never went to Church or talked about God. Once when Emily asked them why they weren’t any religion, they told her that she was too young to worry about such things and that she could think about it when she was older. But Emily wanted to think about it now.
“Time for lunch!” called Elizabeth’s mother.
Before they started to eat, Elizabeth, her parents and her little brother, Jack, touched their heads, their hearts and their shoulders and said some words together out loud. Emily felt shy to ask what they were doing but after lunch she asked Elizabeth about it.
“Oh! That’s called the Sign of the Cross," explained Elizabeth. “We were asking God to bless our food. Catholics always do that before we eat.”
“But why do you draw a kind of cross on yourself?” asked Emily.
“It is a Cross," answered Elizabeth. "Jesus died on a Cross to take away our sins and that’s His sign.”
She pointed to the Crucifix on the wall. Emily studied it carefully.
“Here, I’ll teach you how to make it.”
Then Elizabeth taught her friend to make the Sign of the Cross and say, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Emily watched and listened. In less than a minute she was making the Sign of the Cross and saying the words.
“You should never be afraid to make the Sign of the Cross,” explained Elizabeth. “Always remember that it is God’s sign.”
The next morning, when Emily’s dad and mom sat down for breakfast, Emily remembered what Elizabeth had taught her. Before eating, she made the Sign of the Cross.
“And what do you think you’re doing, young lady?” asked her surprised father.
“I’m asking God to bless our food,” said Emily seriously. “We must always thank God for all we have. Elizabeth and her family always ask God to bless their food. They make the Sign of the Cross on themselves because Jesus died on a Cross and it is His sign.”
Emily’s dad was about to answer her back but something in his daughter’s eyes made him stop. He looked over at his wife for help but she just looked at him. It never occurred to either of them that their little girl would copy her Catholic friend. However, as they themselves had never taught her any prayers, they did not want to forbid her from asking a blessing on her food.
Neither one of them said anything more.
After that weekend, Elizabeth often told Emily about what she learned at home and in school about her Catholic faith. She would tell her what Father James had said in his homilies. One day she taught Emily her favorite hymn.
“I know you’ll like this song too. It goes like this:
Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing.
You reign now in splendor with Jesus our King!
Ave, ave, ave Maria! Ave, ave, Maria!
In Heaven the blessed your glory proclaim,
On earth we, your children, invoke your fair name!
Ave, ave, ave Maria! Ave, ave Maria!
We pray for the Church, our true Mother on earth,
And bless, holy Mary, the land of our birth!
Ave, ave, ave Maria! Ave, ave Maria!
Emily liked these talks best of all! She liked them better than all the games they played or the other things they talked about. They called it “Playing Holy Childhood Academy.” Elizabeth was the teacher and Emily was the student.
Emily never forgot the prayers that Elizabeth taught her. She tried to always pray them when she woke up in the morning and when she went to bed at night. Sometimes she would tell her mother the wonderful things that Elizabeth taught her about Jesus and Mary.
“Why don’t you and Elizabeth just play normal games like normal girls?” asked her mother. “You are just too young to be talking about religion. You should be playing with your dolls or jumping rope. Don’t worry about such things right now.”
“We do play!" exclaimed Emily. “But when Elizabeth tells me things about God, well, it feels like my heart is smiling.” Emily paused then asked, “Do you know what I mean, Mama?”
Emily’s mother just looked at her daughter. She didn’t know what to say.
“Mama, don’t you ever take time to think about God?”
Emily’s mother hesitated and then said, “It’s just that life is so busy and there is so much to do, you know with work and all.”
“Elizabeth and her family always go to Church on Sunday. If you and Daddy are too busy to take me, do you think I could go with Elizabeth and her family sometime?”
Emily’s mother didn’t answer back right away. She loved her little girl very much. She didn’t really want to say “no” to her. Finally she said, “Emmy, I just don’t want you to worry about this right now. You can decide about these things when you grow up.”
The very next day Elizabeth’s mother called Emily’s mother. She called to invite Emily to spend the weekend with their family at their lake cabin. On Saturday and Sunday Emily’s mother and father had plans to attend an important business seminar and had hired a nanny to watch Emily for the weekend. She knew Emily would much rather go with her friend to the cabin instead of spending it with the nanny. However, she also knew that Elizabeth’s family would go to Church on Sunday morning and that is why she hesitated to say “yes.” In the end, she accepted the lake cabin invitation, deciding her daughter could go to Church with her friend “just this once.”
Sunday morning arrived and Emily used her eyes and ears very well during Mass. She knew she couldn’t ask questions while the Mass was going on but she wanted to remember everything to ask Elizabeth afterwards. When they walked out of the Church, Elizabeth was ready to answer all of Emily’s many questions.
“…And why did that boy ring bells?” continued Emily.
Elizabeth explained to Emily that the bells first ring during Mass to prepare for the words of consecration. Then Father says the words of consecration: “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” and that is when the miracle of the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus happens! The bells ring when Father holds up Jesus looking like Bread in the little white Host and again they ring when Father holds up Jesus looking like Wine in the beautiful cup called a "chalice." The bells ring because Jesus is really present on the altar!
She told Emily about how the little white Hosts are kept in the tabernacle after Mass. The tabernacle is Jesus’ little golden house. She told her that Jesus is always present in the tabernacle in every single Catholic Church everywhere in the entire world. She also told her that she thought He is so wonderful and so smart to figure out such a great way to really and truly always be with us.
Then Emily asked, “How come Father put Jesus on your tongue?”
“It's because Jesus wants to be so close to us that He wants us to receive Him in Holy Communion so He can come right into our hearts. Jesus came into my heart this morning when I received Him in the little white Host. He doesn’t talk to me with a voice, but I know He’s there. I kneel very quietly and tell Him that I love Him so much and I know that He is there loving me very much.”
“Do you think I can receive Jesus in the little white Host and have Him that close to me too?” asked Emily.
Elizabeth looked at her friend but didn’t say anything. Then she said in a gentle voice, “You can come to Mass with me anytime your parents let you but you can’t receive Jesus in Holy Communion because, well, you have to be Catholic.”
“I wish I could be Catholic,” sighed Emily, “but I don’t think my dad and mom will let me.”
Both girls were quiet. Then Elizabeth exclaimed, “Well, I think we should just ask Jesus to help you become Catholic so you can receive Him in Holy Communion! I remember Father James told our class once that Jesus wants to come into our hearts way more than we want to receive Him because He loves us so much more than we can ever imagine!”
A few days later Emily came home from school not feeling well. Her head was hot with fever and her throat was very sore. Her mother put her to bed and went to the cupboard to find the medicine that would help her feel better. Emily took the medicine and did everything her mom told her to do. But four days went by and she was still sick. Her mother had taken her to the doctor and he said she had the flu and would be well soon. On the sixth day her father carried her to the car to bring her to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room. Emily was very sick. She was so weak. Her sweet round face was thin. She couldn’t even sit up in the back seat unless her mother put her arm around her to hold her up. She was burning up with fever of 105 degrees. In her feverish state she kept repeating, “Mama, I wish I could talk to Elizabeth’s priest and tell him I would like to become Catholic so Jesus in the little white Host could come into my heart too.”
The doctor in the emergency room said that Emily would have to stay in the hospital. He said she needed to go to a special part of the hospital called the ICU – Intensive Care Unit. The doctor would give her strong medicine. He told Emily’s parents that their little girl was very sick but he would do everything he could to help her get well again.
Emily’s parents patiently waited by Emily’s side for her fever to break but with each passing hour the fever hung on despite the strong medicine going into her arm from the IV tube.
“Mama, please,” murmured Emily. “Please would you call Elizabeth and ask her if Father can come see me? I would so much like to receive Jesus in the little white Host into my heart.”
Four hours after arriving at the ICU, Emily’s mother finally left the room to make a phone call. When Elizabeth’s mother saw it was Emily’s mother, she quickly answered her phone.
“… Yes, she’s very sick. We are in the ICU. Do you think you could call your priest and ask him to come see Emily? Her father and I want to make her happy. We will let her become a Catholic if that’s what she really wants. If you will help us, we want to do the right thing for our daughter.”
One hour later Father James was in Emily’s room. He had just spoken with the doctor who told him that Emily was a very sick little girl. She was very weak but smiled so sweetly when she saw Father James. Emily’s parents watched as Father held Emily’s hand and talked with her very gently. With the permission of her parents, Father baptized Emily right there in the hospital room. As he poured the water on her head he said, “Emily, I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Then Father promised Emily that when the fever left and she was feeling stronger, he would bring her Jesus in Holy Communion.
After Father James left, Emily’s parents couldn’t believe the change in their little girl. Her face was radiant and her eyes were shining like two bright stars!
“Oh, Mama. Daddy,” she whispered. “I’m so happy. Thank you for letting me be Catholic.”
Within the hour her fever broke and Emily fell asleep with a smile on her face.
The next day Emily was moved out of the ICU to a regular hospital room. In the evening Elizabeth and her mother came for a short visit. They brought her a beautiful crystal blue Rosary and a bouquet of exquisite white roses. Elizabeth also brought Emily the white veil she had worn when she received her First Holy Communion.
“I thought you would like to wear this when Father brings you Jesus in the little white Host.”
Emily just smiled!
Three days later, Elizabeth, her teacher, and 4 of her classmates came with Father James to be with Emily as she made her First Holy Communion. The sun was shining brightly through the hospital window as the children sang Emily’s favorite hymn: “Immaculate Mary.” What a beautiful day for Emily!
Before Elizabeth left Emily’s room, she leaned down and whispered into her friend’s ear, “I'm sorry you got so sick but I just knew Jesus would figure out a way for you to become Catholic so you could receive Him in the little white Host.”
Emily hugged her friend and whispered back, “Thanks for telling me about Jesus. Really and truly. Thank you for telling me about Jesus.”
Epilogue: The following year Emily’s parents entered the Catholic Church on Easter Vigil with Emily standing proudly next to them. Elizabeth’s parents were their sponsors.
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.
1 Peter 3:15