We're all part of the Church, regardless of where (or when!) we are. The saints in Heaven intercede ceaselessly for those of us on earth / in Purgatory. Those of us on earth are meant to offer our prayers and works of charity to aid those souls in Purgatory. Finally, the souls that benefit from our prayers in Purgatory return the favor by interceding for those of us on earth.
The kids liked the idea that they had the power to help free souls from Purgatory. We went over the importance of St. Gertrude the Great's Purgatory Prayer, and they each vowed to recite this prayer for Holy Souls Day. When we added our prayers up at class end, in reciting the prayer at the opening and close of class, we were able to send 22,000 souls to Heaven. If they do the same for tonight, that's another 11,000 souls who become saints as a result of their innocent prayers.
The kids all wanted to know how the souls in Purgatory could help us (since I explained prayer was a two way street). Souls in Purgatory aren't forgotten by God. In fact, they are very, very dear to Him and He listens to their prayers always. As a result, we can rest assured that the gratitude they have for those who pray for them is always brought to God. They always ask for blessings to be heaped upon those generous enough to help them attain Heaven.
It was at this point I explained the "Communion of Saints." First, I explained the meaning of the word "communion." Most of the children assumed I was referring to the Eucharist, but the word "communion" refers to the intimate communication between God and His people. The Eucharist is, for us, the Communion of Saints because it is the most intimate communication God can give to us. He, Himself, becomes present within us in a wholly unique way. The Church (all branches of it) is known as Jesus' Body. Thus, when we accept the Eucharist, we accept perfect union with all other members of His Body. It's a mystery we cannot fully grasp, but it is vital to our identity as Catholics.
To help the kids better understand this concept, I explained we could view ourselves as Jesus' Hands. Jesus, being in Heaven, asks us to care for one another as He, Himself, cares. Thus, when we see someone who is struggling to carry a heavy school bag, a little sibling who can't reach the table for a snack, or even a tired parent who needs a little quiet time, we can help! We can share the burden of books, we can retrieve the snack for our little siblings, we can play quietly while Mom or Dad reads a book. After all, it's exactly what Jesus would want us to do. Jesus relies on us to extend helping hands to everyone we meet. We, in effect, become His Hands, because we are the instruments with which He blesses others.
Thus started the torrent of stories. Kids were trying to out-do each other in kindness.
"We helped an old lady who fell on Halloween and we didn't take any candy!"
"I gave my extra lunch money to a homeless family who didn't seem to have warm enough clothes!"
"I didn't yell at my little sister even though she kept taking all my stuff. I just let her have it because I didn't want my mom to get upset."
"I helped my friend with X, Y and Z because she didn't understand what was going on in class."
On and on they went! It was wonderful. What a great reminder of the importance our children also play as the Hands of Christ. :) May they always be so enthused to see the opportunities granted to them to act on God's behalf.