Instructions for Parents
I recommend that you meditate on Luke 17:11-19 in your own prayer time before presenting it to your kids. If you’re not sure how to do this, look at last Thanksgiving’s meditation. Talk to the Lord about it from your heart. Ask Him to teach you to be truly grateful, and to lead your children towards thankfulness.
Next, read and discuss the passage with your children. Use your favorite children’s Bible. Define any words they may not know. (I have highlighted some words in the meditation you may want to define before praying with them.)
Choose one or two of the optional activities at the end of this post to help them dig deeper into the meaning of the passage.
Finally, read the meditation aloud to them, pausing for several seconds to a couple of minutes after each of the first two paragraphs. Ask them to repeat the final prayer after you, sentence by sentence.
This meditation works best with children ages seven to ten. For younger or older children, see the variations. It is especially appropriate for those making their First Confession this year.
Meditation on the Ten Lepers
In the Name of the Father…
Close your eyes and imagine you are a leper. For years you have been living in a leper colony, away from all the people you love. Your body is covered with sores. Your right hand and arm are nearly useless. You feel hopeless and wonder if God really cares about you. Then one of your fellow lepers says that Jesus is going by. Your heart leaps with hope. When you call out to Jesus, He tells you to go see the priest. As you and the others obey, the sores on your body disappear. Your arm and hand are whole again. You run back to Jesus and fall at His feet. “Thank you, Lord!” you cry. (Pause)
Now imagine yourself waiting in line to go to Confession. Reflect on all the sins you have committed since the last time you received absolution. You are a little nervous about telling your sins to the priest. Then you see Mom [or Dad] come out of the confessional before you. She has a huge smile on her face. You remember how peaceful and joyful you felt last time after receiving the Sacrament. You think about how Jesus suffered and died for you out of love. Suddenly, instead of being nervous and afraid, you are filled with love and thankfulness. (Pause)
Your compassion towards sinners gives joy to my heart. Thank you for dying on the Cross to save me from my sins. Help me always to be merciful and forgiving towards others. May I never take your grace for granted. Give me a grateful heart, that I might recognize that everything good in life is a gift from you.
In the Name of the Father…
Variation for ages four to six
For children ages four to six, substitute this for the second paragraph and prayer of the meditation:
Now imagine that it is Christmas. Under the tree is a beautiful present with your name on it. You are excited as you tear off the wrapping paper. Inside is the present you wanted the most. You jump up and run to give Mom and Dad a huge hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” you say. Your heart is full of love and joy. (Pause)
Thank you for all the wonderful gifts you have given me. Thank you for my parents and my brothers and sisters, for good food, and fun with friends. Thank you especially for coming to earth at Christmas. Help me to always be thankful and never greedy.
Variation for ages eleven and up
In place of the prayer at the end, say: Now speak to God in your heart. Thank Him for saving you from your sins through His death and resurrection. In your own words, ask Him to help you be forgiving, generous, and grateful at all times. (Pause for a minute or two, then end with an “Amen” and Sign of the Cross.)
1. Read one or more of the following together:
- Just So Thankful by Mercer Mayer
- “Mr. Rabbit’s Thanksgiving Dinner” or “The Fisherman and His Wife” in The Book of Virtues
- A children’s biography of St. Damian of Molokai
2. Write a card thanking grandparents, godparents, or a favorite aunt and uncle for all they have done for you.
3. Pray a Rosary of Thanksgiving, with a different family member choosing the blessing for which to offer each decade.
4. Volunteer to do something extra to help your mom for all her work in the kitchen for Thanksgiving: do the dishes, set the table, or greet guests as they arrive.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!