Card. Canizares suggests lowering age of First Holy Communion?

This is worth a discussion.

I am not sure, but perhaps His Eminence is overly optimistic about the state of catechism today and the competence, therefore, of most parents to catechize their very young children?  

They need to be prepared for first confession before first Holy Communion too, right?

From CNA:

Vatican prefect says today’s world merits lower age for first communicants

Rome, Italy, Aug 9, 2010 / 05:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Children must not be deprived of the Eucharist, source of grace and assistance to them as they begin their walk with Jesus, stressed the Vatican prefect of the congregation for sacraments. In an article in L’Osservatore Romano to mark the 100-year anniversary of a papal decree which lowered the age of first communicants, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares underscored that children should still be allowed to receive the Eucharist as soon as they are able[Sounds about right.  As soon as they are able.]

The Vatican newspaper published an article by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, titled "Jesus and the Children" on Sunday. In it, the cardinal remembered Pope St. Pius X’s "Quam singulari" decree from Aug. 8, 1910 which gave children the ability to receive the Eucharist once they had reached the "age of reason," deemed then at around seven years of age.

"With this decree … he taught the entire Church the meaning, the opportunity, the value and the centrality of Holy Communion for the life of all of the baptized, including children," wrote the cardinal prefect of St. Pius X.

"At the same time, he underscored and reminded everyone of the love and the predeliction of Jesus for children … ," added the cardinal, noting in from Bible passages that the youngest "are always very special friends of the Lord."

Emphasizing that there is "no greater love, no greater gift" than that of communion, he said that being with the Lord is "worth more than every other thing in the life of each man" and first communion, as the beginning of our "walk together with Jesus" should not be put off. [And FIRST PENANCE before First Holy Communion.]

"We cannot, (by) delaying first communion deprive children … of this grace, work and presence of Jesus, of this encounter of friendship with him, of this singular participation of Jesus himself to be able to mature and thus reach fullness."

In today’s world, he said, children are in great need of this sacrament and, "thanks to their immaculate and open souls," no one is more disposed than them to the union, friendship, strength and presence it offers.

Citing the 100th anniversary of Pope Pius X’s decree as a "providential occasion to remember and insist" on the fact that children can receive communion from the time they are able to reason, Cardinal Cañizares said that rather than continuing a trend which sees children receive communion ever later, if nothing else, today they should be able to receive it earlier than ever. [I am not so sure about that.  Are children better able to reason today than 100 years ago?  OR am I reading this wrong?  I get the sense from the English here and the original Italian that perhaps the Cardinal Prefect is suggesting that the age for Communion should be even before 7 years.]

"In the face of what is happening with children and to the very adverse environment in which they grow up, [An environment which perhaps stiffles their ability to reason?] let’s not deprive them of the gift of God," he concluded, " … it is the guarantee of their growth as children of God, generated by the sacraments of Christian initiation in the bosom of the holy Mother Church. The grace of of the gift of God is the most powerful of our works, and of our plans and programs."

And, today, he said, as Pope Pius X urged a century ago, "we must accompany this same ‘anticipation’ of age with a new and vigorous pastoral plan of Christian initiation."

 

Once upon a time in the USA, children organized their own games and were creative in their activities.   Does it not seem today that, when they are not being managed, they are stuck in front of a screen of some sort?

What does that do to "the ability to reason"?

Discuss.

UPDATE 1917 GMT:

The CNS coverage of this story assumes that Card. Canizares was suggesting 1st Communion "even before 7"
 

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119 Responses to Card. Canizares suggests lowering age of First Holy Communion?

  1. Flambeaux says:

    Initially, I thought His Eminence was suggesting a return by the Latins to the approach still used by our Eastern brethren: of Communicating infants at Baptism and Chrismation.

    But reading the summary you’ve helpfully provided, Father, I’m now baffled. He’s clearly not suggesting that children achieve the age of reason at an earlier age. ["clearly not"? I am not so sure about that.]

    Perhaps he’s seeing a trend (somewhere in the Church) of holding off First Holy Communion until children are closer to their teens. My first reaction to such an idea, admittedly speculative, is that, not unlike Confirmation, perhaps some adults are preventing children from receiving or perhaps due to the increasingly irreligious atmosphere of places like Europe people just don’t bother bringing their children. [I agree that the Cardinal Prefect is against delaying many years.]

    He doesn’t, on balance, appear to be calling for earlier communication of the young; [Not so sure about that. Perhaps you are right. I read it a little differently.] merely that upon attaining the use of reason children should be Communicated.

  2. Andrew says:

    My children were being held back closer to their teens.
    Once I went to plead with my pastor when my son along with all the other children in his class was (in my opinion) being held back from his first communion unnecessarily. He referred me to the parish CCD educator: a young woman who brushed me off with not much courtesy: “you’ll see they’ll be ready next year” she called out to me in a hurry and went off. “And what if some of them should not be alive next year?” I wanted to ask her. “Do you know the future?”
    Ironically, she died in a tragic car accident not long after that.

  3. Leonius says:

    I think seven is just about right.

  4. czemike says:

    I always thought that seven was a general guideline as age of reason with discretion for the actual age being given to the pastors, so why is there a change to the rules needed? I have seen five year olds being given permission to receive communion, but I also know that was after a thorough preparation and examination by the priest to insure that they (1) knew they were receiving Christ and not bread, and (2) there was a manifest desire to receive the Sacrament and not just a desire to be like the older kids.

  5. Rob in Maine says:

    Father,

    The “age of reason” could depend on what is being reasoned.

    I found great resistance among some family and friends when my son was Confirmed this year. In our Diocese, children receive First Penance earlier in the year then receive their First Eucharist and are Confirmed at the same Mass.

    The objection was that Confirmation was the “choice” of being an adult in the Church. They, the objectors, were Confirmed as teenagers – or “chose” not to be Confirmed as the case may be because they didn’t want to be an Adult in the Church and subsequently left it. Sadly, Confirmation was seen as a way to break from their parents and leave the church. Their position is that a seven year old doesn’t have the reason to make that choice.

    I tirelessly tried to Catechize them, but to no use, Confirmation to some in the first Post Vatican II generation will always be seen as a Catholic “Bar Mitzvah”.

  6. doanli says:

    Things are fine the way they are; seven is a good age to begin receiving Holy Communion.

    I think our leaders should be more concerned about the neglect of the Sacrament of Penance in this age and how this is not emphasized to our youth.

  7. Oneros says:

    Rob in Maine, your story is interesting, as receiving confirmation BEFORE (usually, immediately before, at the same Mass) communion was the former practice. When Pius X lowered the age of communion, most places did not correspondingly lower the age of confirmation, thus spoiling the traditional order. Some dioceses have now started returning to the traditional practice, I think to avoid (as you aptly describe it) the “Confirmation as Catholic Bar Mitzvah” attitude.

    As for the “age of reason”…as a child I might have claimed to have reason at the age of seven…but, looking back now as an adult, I don’t think even most teenagers have real reason, at least not in the sense of being able to be culpable of mortal sins. Whether that is the level of reason needed to receive communion, I don’t know, though the traditional liturgy always seems to link the two concepts. I do know that being able to just parrot back a verbal formula that says, “That bread is Jesus” is hardly the same as a real acceptance or understanding of the Real Presence (which I really didnt “get” until my mid-teens).

  8. Flambeaux says:

    Rob in Maine,

    One of the bishops near us has put Confirmation in its proper relation to First Communion. I keep praying that my bishop will, too, but that “Catholic Bar Mitzvah” cultural idea is pervasive and pernicious.

  9. Jordanes says:

    Andrew, since it is a canonical crime to withhold the Sacraments from those who request them when they are properly disposed to receive them, your late CCD director and pastor were completely out of line to deny your son and his classmates the Holy Eucharist when they were ready to receive it. In such cases, it’s entirely proper to seek the Sacraments from another priest.

    Hopefully in the future the Latin Church will return to its ancient discipline — still the discipline of the East — and no longer delay First Communion until the age of reason, and also restore Confirmation to its place prior to First Communion. It’s First Confession that should take place around the age of reason: there’s no doctrinal or theological need to delay First Communion until that time, nor Confirmation until puberty.

  10. Ralph says:

    At my childrens parochial school second graders prepare for first reconcilliation. Third graders prepare for first Eucharist.

    I like the emphesis put on reconcilliation. Often in the past it seemed like the forgotten sacrament.

    However, I do think many children are mature enough at a younger age to receive the Holy Eucharist. I think it’s important that the parents work with the children and not expect the chatachists to do all the “heavy lifting”. Also, in reverse, if a child is not ready at the “normal” time dictated by the local traditions, it’s important for the parent to hold the child back until he is truly able to discern the true nature of the Eucharist.

    You can’t raise kids by a calender.

  11. a catechist says:

    In the US, esp. the Midwest, there’s a lot of variation in the age and order of the sacraments of initiation. It’s really a headache for everyone involved, frankly. Plenty of traditionally-minded folks would like to see Penance AND Confirmation before first Eucharist. Clearer guidelines would be good for us.

    But what’s meant by age of reason? I didn’t wonder before I had kids, but…my almost-5 yr. old seems to understand the True Presence & understood on her own that the “daily bread” we ask for in the Our Father is the Eucharist. She already understands a great deal of what 2nd graders know that I’ve prepped for their First Communion. But I don’t think she’s attained the age of moral responsibility for her actions & not ready for Confession. My inclination is that reason (in this context) is the acceptance of revealed truth rather than the age of rational moral decision.

    On my more grumpy days, I think what most pastors/parents use as the measure of “age of reason” is old enough to be fairly still during the Mass. I think the Eastern Churches’ complete initiation at Baptism is a lot more sensible, especially given how secular our culture is. Until I had a class of 2nd graders arguing election year politics (without any reference to Pro-Life issues), I just couldn’t imagine how early they need to be strengthened in clinging to revealed truth.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Two points come to my mind on reading this above. Firstly, the suggestion emphasizes reason and not Faith; Secondly, children are capable of much more reason despite the degradation of our culture, if they have good, practicing and reasoning parents.

    The Byzantines give the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Charismation (Confirmation) at Baptism. The giving of the Sacraments has nothing to do with reason, but everything to do with the Faith which is being practiced and taught in the home. Parents have the duty to prepare children, or in the Byzantine case, add explanation to grace.

    As a teacher, if we waited until children were truly able to tackle discursive reasoning skills, indeed, as I have seen over a thirty year period of teaching college students, the ability to reason has absolutely been lessened by a lack of parental involvement in the teaching of the Faith, video games, computers, the Internet, and very bad education systems, whether private or public, we may be waiting for some children for a long time.

    Some of us had the grace of infused knowledge at early ages in order to know that the Eucharist was the Body of Christ-that is a gift. However, children are much more capable of learning things than most people believe. I taught Montessori in the 1970s, and later when I had my own school in the 1990s, and I can assure you that many children in the correct environment and with truly interactive parents can learn to understand numbers (not just rote, but true understanding) up to 1,000 by the ages of three or four, and can read at those ages, as well as make sentences out of the parts of speech by age four.

    We continually underestimate and therefore, dumb-down, what children are capable of learning.
    We also underestimate the graces that God gives children to understand great mysteries, such as the Immaculate Conception. I have heard children revealing subtle understanding of such things, given to them by God. I am all for giving all the Sacraments of Initiation at Baptism and then allowing children to receive First Confession at about age six, when I see many children reasoning, especially those from good Catholic families, which take the Faith seriously.

    As to the vast majority of Catholic children who are, for example, either in very bad Catholic schools, or in public schools, I would still place the bulk of responsibility for Faith education squarely on the shoulders of the parents. Thomas Aquinas stated, “I believe in order to understand”. That should be the guideline, rather than “I understand in order to believe”.

  13. Leonius says:

    You have to be careful also with holy communion because it can be a two edged sword, it is possible to receive it to our own destruction if we are not properly prepared.

  14. Bthompson says:

    Communion is fine where it is. I would be more inclined to restore the original order of initiation and lower Confirmation to be concurrent with First Communion. The bishop makes the rounds each year for confirmations anyway, just confirm the kids rather than the teens.

  15. Mike says:

    I think it’s an interesting idea. Catechesis would need to be significantly improved. I remember–before velcro sneaks–teaching my four kids how to tie their sneakers. That’s not easy!!

    The other day, while I was standing in line at CVS, a little girl, probably two, with short pig-tails, sunglasses, was screaming for her mother. Mom called her over, picked her up, tried to comfort her (didn’t seem to me to be really warm to the kid, but that’s just an impression), and then, wham, the kids rips her mother’s own sunglasses off mom’s head, and chucks them on the ground. I realize two is too early; but little ones need the Lord as much as we do.

    First Penance, first communion: maybe at age 5?

  16. Onesimus2 says:

    I like BThompson’s notion. “Age of Reason” is an artificial construction…just like the age of majority is 18/21. There is no strict theological problem with the practices of the Eastern Rites and ours is a matter of discipline rather than doctrine. Eucharitic piety among the Eastern Rites (both uniate & not) remains quite intact and Roman Catholics might do WELL to ask why this is the case rather than squeeze everything through current practices and their permutations.
    Thoughts Fr Z?

  17. dans0622 says:

    Canon law says: “c. 913 §1: The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

    §2. The Most Holy Eucharist, however, can be administered to children in danger of death if they can distinguish the body of Christ from ordinary food and receive communion reverently.”

    It is interesting to note that there is no “use/age of reason” language here, or a mention of seven years of age, although this norm is based on Quam singulari, which did say the age of reason was the seventh year, “more or less.” According to canon law, those who have reached seven years of age are presumed to have the use of reason (c. 97). Those under seven years may or may not have the use of reason. It depends on the situation.

    As far as lowering the age where the law would presume the use of reason, I’m not sure that’s warranted. Adolescence seems to be extending into the 20s, even while puberty, biologically speaking, is said to be starting earlier.

    I don’t see a reason for lowering the presumptively proper age for first Communion. Each child should be individually examined, anyway, and those responsible shouldn’t assume that a seven-year-old meets the requirements of c. 913, or that a younger child does not.

    Dan

  18. jbas says:

    I’m with His Eminence all the way. We have over-intellectualized the sacraments, turning them into mere didactic or motivational tools, rather than celebrating them as unmerited gifts of God’s grace. Confirmation and matrimony are probably in the worst state, but moving Holy Communion to an earlier age may help force us to begin appreciating all the sacraments for what they are.

  19. MarkJ says:

    Since reception of Communion is a right of all Catholics in the proper state of grace, if a pastor or religious education person wants to hold off First Communion to a much later age than normal, then the parents can make the decision to prepare their child on their own and have him or her receive when ready by their judgment. Sure they will miss the hoopla of the First Communion Mass, but then what is more important – receiving Our Lord, or having a “group celebration”?

  20. Leonius says:

    Until a person receives confirmation are they even a full member of the Church?

  21. chironomo says:

    Holy Communion, and ergo First Communion are so tied up with the concept of a “class” that is taught, that the current situation is such that you receive First Communion in second grade whether you are ready or not. From what I’ve seen, most are not. If it was left up to the parents to catechize their children and present them to recieve the sacrament of their own accord, most would never receive the sacrament. So what is the solution? A process of some kind for the pastor to determine if the child is ready yet? How much knowledge is really needed?

  22. pcstokell says:

    There are a handful of U.S. dioceses that have it right – first preparing for and celebrating the Sacrament of Penance, followed by formation and reception of Confirmation and Eucharist at the same Mass. A great challenge in these places is for families to break the spell of “Confirmation means Graduation” and continue with the the religious formation of their children into late adolescence. An even greater one is to convince youth ministers, diocesan offices and even catechetical publishers to move together in this direction.

  23. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    The assault on the souls of children begins MUCH earlier now than it did in the past. Through our televisions and computers, they are subject to the snares, the lies, and the furious wickedness of the Adversary well before the age of seven – even in the most Christian of homes. The Father of Lies does not wait until children are at the age of reason to begin his attacks on them. The supernatural graces of the sacraments must surely be an aid to children, even if they are only partially able to understand the nature of the sacraments themselves. I think it is a good idea.

    We should emulate the Orthodox more. Receiving intinctured host via a spoon would require reverent reception in a way that the great cookie distribution at many parishes almost prohibits. Vatican II tried so hard of effect reconciliation with Western European Protestants who are now so completely off the reservations (e.g. gay marriage, gay ministers, abortion on demand being a blessing), that the whole effort was truly pearls before swine. We should have looked East to remove stumbling blocks for the Orthodox. And I believe sincerely that emulating them now is the remedy that will clear the Smoke of Satan that has entered our sancturaries.

    Tangentially, does anyone know when the Orthodox AGAIN allow their children to receive Communion. Receiving the intinctured host via a spoon opens the sacrament to a very young (and old) group of communicants, but given the propensity of 2 and 3 year olds to spit out their food, I can’t imagine they communicate all the way through.

  24. lmgilbert says:

    When we discovered that St. Joan of Arc’s was not going to give my son adequate catechesis for First Holy Communion, we began studying the Baltimore Catechism with him for about 20 minutes per evening.

    Among many other things he learned, I specifically remember that he knew 26 questions and answers about the Holy Mass as a sacrifice.

    BUT THE STUNNING THING WAS was that so did his 4 yr old sister who had been eavesdropping on our sessions! [I love it.] She went into St. Joan’s knowing more, far more, than its eighth grade graduates, including all the basic prayers in both English and Latin.

    Nor is she unique. In the “Lost Tools of Learning” Dorothy Sayers speaks of the ages of learning, and refers to earliest childhood as “The Poll Parrot Stage” when children love to accumulate things, when they love to memorize things. I can think, for example, of a three year old (soon to be four) who is fluent in English, Spanish and Czech…at a four year old level, of course, but still.

    So I am all for passing out the Baltimore Catechism to parents at baptisms, and encouraging them to begin studying it out loud together when their child is about three and a half or four. If the child is in the same room, he will eavesdrop and learn, no pressure or tests required! This will catechize both the parents and the child! (Nor does there have to be any competition with the other religious ed books. Let’s do both/and rather than fight over which is better).

    So, no doubt, children can be intellectually ready for the Eucharist at a much younger age, but they still need, badly need, the strengthening of the Holy Spirit to lead the Eucharistic life, particularly in our times.

  25. Leonius says:

    The solution is not to Easternise the Latin Church the solution is to return to our own traditions.

  26. Supertradmum says:

    This rite of passage nonsense regarding Confirmation is still being taught. I had a discussion with a seminarian from an upper Midwest diocese who was insisting that Confirmation was like the protestant acceptance of Jesus, and a rite into adulthood. This was at Easter of 2009. I could not convince him otherwise, and I am not sure he had even read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was not used in any of his undergraduate seminary courses at the time.

    One priest with whom I was working in RCIA told me that the priests he knew, including himself, used Confirmation to keep the teens in the Church as long as possible, with extended preparation, as they “all” quit going to Mass after Confirmation. In my experience in CCD, many parents do not go to Mass and leave their children at the door of Confirmation classes and then are astounded that the teens leave the Church after Confirmation. This really has to change. I believe the young ones need the graces and gifts of Confirmation much earlier than most people think. Give all the Sacraments of Initiation at once and teach the children how to grow in the virtues in order to use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. I truly believe that if parents knew how to become holy, they would teach their children the same process, even at earlier ages.

  27. Leonius says:

    Memorisation is not the same as been able to reason, the memorisation stage of learning precedes the development of reason, just because a child can remember what you told them and repeat it back does not mean they understand it or have internalised it.

  28. Lowering the age of Confirmation back down to seven or so would also eliminate the “paying for Confirmation with service hours” that Catholic kids today have to suffer. Religious service projects for teens are a good idea and tying them to religious education is also fine. But tying them to reception of a Sacrament, when the kids got every right to receive it just by being baptized… that’s abusive.

    Oh, but it gets better. The reason that First Communion is getting tied to third grade instead of second, these days, is because a lot of parishes want to inflict service projects on kids in order to receive Communion. So yeah, I think we’re going to have to put them all together again.

    Btw, US Catholic military chaplains in the Latin Rite are currently forbidden to Confirm anybody for any reason unless they’re in 8th grade or above. That’s the one part of their handbook that really really needs revision, unless there’s some sort of exception to that rule.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    Leonius,

    Do not forget that grace infuses reason, and this can happen even at a very early age. So, the question is should the child understand before he gets grace or should he be receiving the grace in order to understand? Memory is part of the process, and should lead to internalization. But, how many parents or schools even believe in memorization anymore?

  30. Onesimus: “Age of Reason” is an artificial construction

    True. However, I am sure that people, watching children over the eons, have seen that in general children seem to start making different sorts of distinctions at about that age. Individuals develop at different speeds, but this is a generality which has stood a certain test of time.

    On the issue of infant Communion and Confirmation at the time of baptism, fine… for Eastern Catholics. I have given Holy Communion to very young children when parents have said they are Eastern Catholics and that their children have already been “initiated”, so to speak. I have no problem with this at all, depending on the wishes and Church of the parents.

  31. Supertradmum says:

    Suburbanbanshee,

    Service hours have nothing to do with the reception, or the preparation of the Sacraments. I no longer volunteer for Confirmation prep as the emphasis has changed to some type of “rewarding” system, which deems a person “ready” by external actions totally arbitrary and up to the DRE or pastor. In some parishes, there is an attempt at learning Catholic doctrine in Confirmation prep and I have taken part in that as recently as this past spring, but sadly, many parishes settle for emotional descriptions of the Coming of the Holy Spirit and some type of acceptance of Jesus as one’s personal Savior, period. Service hours do not lend themselves either to real conversion or to doctrinal understanding. If the Beatitudes are being taught from a truly spiritual point of view, actions would follow grace. Otherwise, actions do not bring merit, period. No grace, no merit. Most teens, or pre-teens need more meat-more doctrine-and an understanding of how to be holy. But then, very few programs which teach DREs, or even pastoral theology classes in seminaries, teach sacramental theology as spiritual theology–that is, that the sacraments are there to help us to become holy. Service hours are part of the “psychological-brainwashing” of pastoral theology so that what makes us “feel” good is good. Heresy.

    As to service hours for First Communion, this requirement is a complete misunderstanding of Sacramental Theology and smacks of the “works” emphasis so highly argued against Catholics by the protestants. Obviously, there needs to be a renewal of training in the making of DREs. I realize that some of this is a ploy to get parents involved in the training and teaching of their children, but I would have rebelled. My oldest son received the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion at six because he was ready to receive these, not because he (or his parents) got “points” for social action.

  32. mysticalrose says:

    Good point, EoinOBolguidhir. I too think that His Eminence is pointing to the grace that is necessary for living a true Christian childhood these days.

  33. Supertradmum says:

    EoinOBolguidhir,

    In my years at Byzantine churches, the children communicated all through their years and I never saw any child spit out the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ. Not all children do that, anyway. There was no break in these communities between the original reception of the Sacrament as a baby and the following years. The Body and Blood of Christ are placed in the mouth of everyone on a long-handled spoon. I think some children know there is a difference in “eating” home and “eating” at Church. Plus, they have their parents and siblings to look at and learn, as well.

  34. Eric says:

    There is a good book by Father Francis Finn set during the time St. Pius X lowered the age 100 years ago. I think it is “Fairy of the Snows.”
    It is set in a large parish in dowtown Cincinnati. They would normally have 80 to a hundred first communicants per year and this year they were preparing 400.

  35. I honestly think that parishes would get more “service hours” out of teens if they would just let it be known that X and Y organizations need help. Of course, with today’s amazingly tight schedules for kids, I doubt they ever can get out of the house by themselves until somebody gives the car keys.

    Also, a lot of the service hours are frankly make-work, like having kids do lectoring when there’s a full lectoring crew already, or suddenly giving kids “credit” for serving when they’ve been serving for ages. (Which leads to weird situations, like having lots of servers in the service hours grade and the younger kids getting left out.)

    And even better, the service hours required keep increasing. When I got Confirmed, we had to have something like 4 or 6 service hours. Now in a lot of parishes, it’s some enormous amount per child; and sometimes, they want the parents or the sponsors to put in service hours as well! I’ve heard some crazy stuff!

    Putting off Confirmation till a kid’s a teenager is crazy, anyway. Kids really do need all the sacramental grace they can get, in these times, because they’re under enormous pressure.

  36. stgemma_0411 says:

    I think in some ways, that this is a boon for Home Schoolers across the world as well as a re-establishing the canonical authority of the family to get around the “not so good” religious education programs, as to when the child is ready to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. The provision has always been in place, yet a large number of parishes (read: pastors) do not follow the provision that allows for the family to determine when the child is ready for the sacrament. I can find the particular canons if anyone wishes it. But the only provision that is made is that the pastor confirm that the child is ready when the family makes the child available for questioning. I am happy to see Card. Canizares giving more responsibility to families who wish to take charge of their childs’ education. Heavens knows the majority aren’t getting it from those who are supposed to know better.

  37. Jerry says:

    @Jordanes – “Hopefully in the future the Latin Church will return to its ancient discipline—still the discipline of the East—and no longer delay First Communion until the age of reason, and also restore Confirmation to its place prior to First Communion. It’s First Confession that should take place around the age of reason”

    The problem I see with allowing children to receive Holy Communion before their first confession is the risk of receiving unworthily should an individual child attain the use of reason, and hence the culpability for mortal sins, before receiving their first confession.

    Regarding the Eastern practice of administering the first Communion to infants — do infants continue to receive the Sacrament, or do they stop until they are cognizant of the nature of the Sacrament?

  38. QMJ says:

    EoinOBulgoidhir,

    The Orthodox, both those in communion with Rome and those who are not, administer communion to the little ones at every liturgy. Those who are not old enough to receive the Sacred Body only receive the Precious Blood. I have yet to see any child spit out our Lord. Also, I wasn’t sure if this is what you thought or not but for clarification we do not use wafers. We use loaves of leavened bread cut into small pieces. I think this probably makes it easier for younger children to communicate was well.

    One of the aspects of the Byzantine Church that I like the most is how they approach and administer the sacraments. That said, I do not think the West should fall back on Eastern practices. As wonderful as those practices are they developed and are practiced within a certain cultural ritual tradition, one that is quite foreign to many Romans. So regarding First Holy Communion I would say “keep it where it is and let those younger than seven be examined on an individual basis.” Concerning Confirmation, however, I applaud those bishops who have had the courage to step outside the box and Confirm children before they receive First Communion (at the same Mass, of course). The rampant misconceptions concerning Confirmation are not only due to poor catechesis, but I believe are also directly connected to the practice of administering the sacrament at a later age. The easiest and most sensible way to begin correcting those misconceptions is to Confirm at a much younger age.

  39. Mike says:

    Re “service hours”: in my parish, the confirmandi got ONE hour of theology, with FORTY hours of service.

    Way wrong.

  40. I agree with those who propose we either leave as is or embrace the Eastern tradition of Holy Communion and Confirmation being given at Baptism. Otherwise, our current custom in the Latin Rite to give Penance and Holy Eucharist to children in the second grade (7-8 yrs.old) is fine. As a priest and pastor, I can vouch that children must, ought and should receive First Penance BEFORE First Communion (in the Latin Rite). The same age they are capable of comprehending that Holy Eucharist is not the same as bread bought at the grocery store and eaten at home, but is the body and blood of Jesus Christ, is the same age they know the difference between right and wrong. When Johnnie or Suzie tells a lie or beats up a classmate, they know they are guilty of SIN. While children in kindergarden are able to discern good from evil in their own actions and those of others, I would pastorally be hesitant to allow them to go to Confession and Holy Communion. By second grade, though, their moral judgment is better formed and operative.

  41. TravelerWithChrist says:

    When I was young, 7 was good because we didn’t become ‘catechized’ until we attended CCD for 3 yrs first (K-2). Now I am homeschooling my own children who have been catechized from their beginning; they are learning so much more, have attended daily mass since birth, and such. I feel they are ready at age 6; in fact I’ll admit they know more than I do; I am learning some of the things alongside with them.

    Children must learn their faith; they must learn about what really goes on at mass. Many CCD and Vacation bible classes teach nothing but feel-good and generic bible stories (thus they may never ‘be ready’. What about those with severe issues such as downs syndrome – are they ready at the ‘age of reason’.

    It is my opinion they need to learn about transubstantiation (yes, they can understand the word even at age 6), they need to learn about the lives of the saints (not just as good role models but also what special gifts they have to offer us), and such. I’m in the middle of searching through religion books to order for my children, unfortunately many are mediocre at best.

    I guess what I’m saying is we are selling our children short, in what we expect and what they can learn, and they certainly can use the graces in today’s time.

  42. momoften says:

    NO, Stgemma I don’t think homeschoolers will benefit. You are right there are provisions to allow parents to request sacraments if they are ready. But, most priests/ bishops would probably be reluctant to allow it as they want everyone in their religious ‘ed’ programs and personal (diocesan guidelines, or requirements)I am tired of seeing stringent recommended ages for reception of sacraments. Times have changed, society has changed, and the family structures have changed, as well as lack of education of our faith to our children. I would prefer a range of an age for sacraments.
    We now have(in our diocese) Confession/First Holy Communion/and Confirmation all in one year..3rd grade.IT IS TOO MUCH IN ONE YEAR! The ages for reception have changed frequently by the former bishop, and I have become skeptical with their so called valid reasons changing frequently as well. Believe me, I have seen a lot over the years as a mother of a large family. The Cardinal speaks in rather vague words, his intent is true and good, but today people don’t realize when or if their children are really ready for reception of the Holy Eucharist if they don’t prepare the child themselves…and how many take that responsibility seriously?…FEW.

  43. Andrew says:

    I should clarify that in my mind, speaking of First Holy Communion for Latin rite Catholics, I presume that it is understood that sacramental Confession precedes First Communion. There is no need to mention it, unless one is talking about some abusive deviation from a given custom.

  44. Joshua08 says:

    1. The concept of the age of reason is not artificial. The guideline of it being presumed at 7 is. It is simply fact that at some point in the development of the person, he gains the ability to make conscious acts, the first of which is to direct himself to some final end (God hopefully). It is at this point that a person becomes able to merit by his acts or to sin (and as St. Thomas would argue to mortally sin, since the first act of the will is toward a final end, if that is not God then there is a mortal sin). Before this first act the child never sins, even venially (hence, according to St. Thomas, it is impossible to have original sin and venial sin, but not mortal). It is another question, of course, what the theological benefits of using this as a standard for Confirmation and Communion is.

    I believe historically both Confirmation and Communion were celebrated later because First Communion comes AFTER Confirmation and in the West we retained the tradition of bishops giving confirmation. As dioceses became larger, confirming infants became unfeasible. Whereas in the East they have regularised the priest as a minister of confirmation to continue infant confirmation/communion. The real issue I see is that the rationale for a later communion is because it is supposed to come after confirmation. So something is a bit funny about the current situation

    2. I see nothing new here. Both the CIC and St. Pius X’s instructions allow for the reception before the age of seven, which is only a guideline for presumption, as a previous poster said. The reminder is good I believe, but nothing radical. While I do know of a few cases where Rome made a bishop perform confirmation at a younger age than that bishop had set, I don’t think we are going to see a surge in such lower age communions/confirmations

  45. robtbrown says:

    The Byzantines give the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Charismation (Confirmation) at Baptism.

    True, and that is why the phrase Sacraments of Initiation arose. Now Catholics have adopted the phrase without the practice, which makes no sense.

    Some of us had the grace of infused knowledge at early ages in order to know that the Eucharist was the Body of Christ-that is a gift.

    We also underestimate the graces that God gives children to understand great mysteries, such as the Immaculate Conception. I have heard children revealing subtle understanding of such things, given to them by God. I am all for giving all the Sacraments of Initiation at Baptism and then allowing children to receive First Confession at about age six, when I see many children reasoning, especially those from good Catholic families, which take the Faith seriously.

    The gift of Faith is infused. Children, because of their simplicity, often grasp things very quickly. That’s not the same as Infused Knowledge, which is mystical, and which is the impression of intelligible species directly on the intellect by God.

    As to the vast majority of Catholic children who are, for example, either in very bad Catholic schools, or in public schools, I would still place the bulk of responsibility for Faith education squarely on the shoulders of the parents. Thomas Aquinas stated, “I believe in order to understand”. That should be the guideline, rather than “I understand in order to believe”.
    Comment by Supertradmum

    That is not from St Thomas, nor is it typical of his thought. The phrase comes from St Anselm and is based on St Augustine.

  46. Supertradmum says:

    In my parish in England, the parents were in charge of Sacramental prep and the “dre” was only used if the parents wanted her to help. When we thought our children were ready, we approached the priest. We parents who desired to do so, taught our own children at home and the children were quizzed by the priest and deemed to be “ready” for First Confession and First Communion. Same was true for Confirmation. Most parents agreed with the seven year old paradigm, although some had children, like us, who were ready earlier. Some parents had children who they deemed were not ready at age seven. My godson received First Confession and First Communion at nine, as he was not ready at seven or eight.

    I was told bluntly here in the Midwest parish that the priest wanted all the children to receive Confession and Communion as a group, when I was helping with catechesis. There was no room or option for parents catechizing on their own or a child receiving the Sacraments outside the group. This is obviously wrong, as the DRE should be the “fall-back” and not the primary teacher. The only priests I know who have allowed individual first reception of the Sacraments have been TLM priests.

    The same is true of Confirmation. All the youth must take the CCD class which is taught by the DRE. Parents are not allowed to catechize. My homeschooling friends take their children to be confirmed either at St. John Cantius, or a church in Wisconsin, run by the Institute, which allows home schooled children to be prepared to be confirmed individually.

    As to Catholic schools, one of the teachers at the parish school was teaching “consubstantiation”, not “transubstantiation”. Some parents pulled their children out of the school at that point, as she was not fired. Apparently, the teacher thought the terms were the same and that the children wouldn’t know the difference anyway! I do not know if the priest cautioned her.

    Most teachers avoid the term “transubstantiation”, which is silly, as children love big words and can understand what it means if taught well. I think if Rome changes anything, it should be allowing more flexibility for parents to teach their own children at their own pace, if the parents want to do so and are able to do so.

  47. Supertradmum says:

    robtbrown,

    Sorry for the mistake about the quotation..I did know that was from St. Anselm and St. Augustine, but had a slip of memory. As to being in the theological mode of St. Thomas Aquinas, I do think he could have said that, especially at the end after his mystical experience. But, he didn’t.

    I sit here corrected.

  48. lucy says:

    StGemma_0411 – I agree with you, however, the problem really is that some pastors do not want to hear that it is the parents responsibility.

    We homeschool and also attend traditional Mass (2 strikes against us there). We desired to have our 12 year old daughter receive confirmation, because she was prepared in her homeschooling course in 7th grade and also because she asked for it and clearly understood what she was doing. The pastor had us jumping through many hoops to get it done. Our homeschooled kids had to take the regular “entrance” exam that the parish’s school kids take to begin their program. He changed the multiple choice answers to fill in the blank. I’m sure he was hoping that our kids would not pass, but some did.

    I tire of the 60′s mentality that says, “we’re in charge here, and what you parents think is of no significance.” The regular school kids sit through two years of class learning, but are not tested upon completion. Their test is merely sitting there for two years. I would bet that our homeschooled kids are much better formed for their confirmation than the parish school children are.

  49. JonM says:

    I generally agree with His Eminence as far as making the Sacrament available at a younger age an option. I know there are gifted five year olds (perhaps younger) who can adequately grasp the meaning of the Eucharist.

    I believe the vast bulk would be children of traditionalist parents who are Very Scary and go against the Spirit of Vatican II.

    However if the motivation is not to simply make reasonable options available but rather to change for the sake of change (or de-Latinize ourselves even further), then there is a serious problem.

    I would like to hear more about how Confirmation used to come before First Communion. That sounds fascinating.

    Ultimately the solution is real catechesis which means Mom and Dad are actively involved in teaching real, authentic lessons to their children. Further, it means a return to tradition and actually practicing the faith. I personally am at the point now where I feel it is wrong to attend a NO if for no other reason than the banal, poor treatment of the Eucharist.

    Maybe suspending those who do thing like dump Precious Blood or say there is no need for Confession would start the ball rolling towards rediscovery of the Eucharist.

  50. Fr. Basil says:

    I once met a deacon of the FSSP who wished that the Latin church would return to her original discipline of infant communion, which Eastern Churches (Catholic, Orthodox, or Non-Chalcedonian) still observe.

    May I point out that the “age of reason” argument advanced for the delay of First Communion is identical to why our Protestant neighbors frequently deny their little ones Baptism?

    To say we have to understand for God to act in our lives is nothing but Gnosticism.

    FWIW, when a 3 year old Melkite Catholic child was asked what the Priest gave her each Sunday, she said, “Jesus bread!” Her 5 year old brother, a bit more theologically savvy said, “It looks like bread, but it’s really Jesus.”

    I think they have it nailed for little children.

  51. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    SUPRATRADMUM: Thanks for the answer!

    LEONIUS: Regarding going back to our own traditions, you can’t turn back the clock, and you can’t get the genie back in the bottle. So what do I think the Eastern Patrimony can supply us that we lack in the Latin Rite? I think the most important is a cohesive use of multiple liturgies: St. John Chrysostom’s, St. Basil’s, and St. James’s. Here’s a plan in emulation of their laudable ability to use multiple liturgies and why I believe would help the Church in a way that is inestimable:

    A.) do away with the three year cycle of readings,
    B.) revise the new calendar of reading and saints to coordinate with the old,
    C.) put baldacchino over all free standing altars and altar rails in all churches (this is a wish, but not a
    necessity).

    Do this and you could seamlessly have the Liturgy of Paul VI and the Liturgy of Gregory the Great celebrated in every parish every week or some days require one and some days the require the other. It would unite all Catholics regardless of liturgical or ideological persuasion. We would all use both forms reverently and without deformation as a normal part of our liturgical lives. In this way, the goals of Summorum Pontificorum would be beautifully fulfilled, and without anyone being able to complain that the Church was trying to undo the Second Vatican Council. I believe that Bugnini et al intentionally made architectonic changes in physical churches and the calendar to blockade a going back to traditional usages and to enforce irrevocably an Hermeneutic of Rupture on those unwilling to leave the Liturgy of the Ages. But these impediments are both easily undone with these steps without losing what was positive in the Liturgy of Paul VI nor alienating those who are attached to it.

    It think it should be strongly stated that the Eastern Liturgies are part of OUR traditions, just as are the Ambrosian, Carthusian, Braga, and other rites. We can draw from all these sources because the Church is Universal, and all legitimate forms of worship are Hers. Finally it is imperative that we look East for Unity, because of Christ’s command that we all be one, and because the Western Protestantism is firmly living in the Age of Positivism, and lost. It’s better to come about and sail East and wait for their remaining faithful to swim towards us than keep steering towards their iceberg of relativism or trying to get back to where we were when it hit us last.

  52. Supertradmum says:

    robtbrown,

    Sorry about the interruptions..I am burning pizza cheese. I did mean the mystical experience of infused knowledge. These gifts are more common than some would think and children have been given such gifts, such as infused virtues as well as the infused gifts of the Holy Spirit. God gives such things to those whom He wishes.

  53. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    QMJ: Thanks your you edifying reply as well; I hadn’t seen it yet when I started my reply to Supertradmum. Most appreciated.

  54. Mike says:

    Fr. Basil’s comment reminded of an incident several yrs ago. In an “all-purpose” room Church (ugh), I was in the seat next to a wall where a line of communicants filed up to a layman giving out Communion. The floor of the church was linoleum, colored beige. After I received, and was seated, a few people where standing in the now vanished line, as the place was packed. I looked down at the floor, and under the shoe of a man standing there, half covered, was a Sacred Host. The little girl (age about 9 or 10, not related to either of us, and she really appeared NOT to be paying attention to the Mass) saw it and starting yelling, “The Body of Christ! The Body of Christ!” I got up, said excuse me, to the fellow, and picked up the Host, and brought it over to an extraordinary minister, and she consumed it.

    From the mouth of babes…

  55. Mindyleigh says:

    I am a convert to the Roman Catholic Church but my husband and children are technically Byzantine Catholics. We have recently decided to raise our children in this tradition so this is an issue which has come up, and we are meeting with the priest this week to discuss it further. There are three young ones who are not fully initiated (my oldest two are converts; one received Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation last Easter; the other was “scheduled” to be initiated next Easter). Because of the ages of the three youngest, the priest’s concerns are more about our intentions than about the children’s “readiness,” etc.

    When our family became Catholic (a return to the Church, in my husband’s case) and I first found out that my eight year old would be receiving Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation all at the same time at that young age, I felt a wave of disappointment wash over me. I had always heard from my husband about how he was different than the other kids because of his early reception of the Sacraments as a Byzantine, who later attended a Roman Catholic school. (This was his attitude as a fallen away Catholic at the time.) I didn’t want my son to be different too, or to miss out on the opportunity to have that “rite of passage” of confirmation later in life.

    Upon praying about it, God said,

    “It is good to receive the Sacraments.”

    “Well, yes. It is good.” Hard to argue with that. My response to the situation was completely shallow and flawed.

    I also had an awareness of how much spiritual protection this early reception of the Sacraments had afforded my husband throughout the years of his upbringing, during which he experienced several near-deaths and managed to survive them all.

    Secondly, if we believe what we say, which is that we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and if we baptize our children into our faith, it strikes me as odd (or maybe somewhat arbitrary) that we don’t fully initiate them into the faith as infants. We are not worthy to receive Christ at ANY point in our fallen state…only by His grace do we have that immeasurable blessing to stand in His presence and receive His Body and Blood. Only by receiving the Sacraments do we grow in that grace, so why deny our children the reality of these Sacraments? The Sacraments don’t rely on our own will in order to “work,” be valid, or have effect.

    Granted, I do plan to catechize them properly (and have been) and ensure frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation once they are of the age of reason.

  56. 1. The Sacrament of Penance absolutely should come before Holy Communion. In Preparation for Death, St. Alphonsus Liguori tells the story of a four-year-old who was allowed to develop a habit of uttering terrible blasphemies, blasphemed God with his dying breath and gave frightening indications of damnation upon his death. The point is that we must not cherish romantic notions about the innocence of children, especially in an age when children are increasingly exposed to the most vile filth (and that’s just in the schools). Children can and do commit awful sins, so we must definitely start them on penance at an early age.

    2. For the same reasons, I am in favor of starting a child on Holy Communion as soon as he understands what It is he is receiving and can receive It reverently.

    3. Also for the same reasons, I think children should be confirmed early, before the maelstrom of sin and impurity to which they are exposed is exacerbated by the storms of adolescence.

    4. Meanwhile, a child’s best protection is in a stable home with a solid Catholic upbringing and parents who are married to each other.

  57. Mike says:

    I think we’re making a mistake of blurring baptism into a group with Holy Communion and First Confession.

    Baptism is “the gateway” to the spiritual life. It makes us children of God, destroys the alienating guilt of Original Sin, makes the Holy Trinity dwell in our soul. Holy Communion is our manna for the journey, for continual growth in this life of Christ. Penance is healing for when we abuse our freedom, and do not love with God’s love.

    While the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Christian life, is, indeed, the Author of all sanctity, it is Baptism which makes this life possible in the first place.

    So while infant baptism does not rely on the will, clearly, of the infant, is it would theretically be possible to give Communion to infants if the Church decided to, there is a teaching here–in the present state of Sacramental life–worth pondering.

  58. irishgirl says:

    I’d rather leave the age for First Communion where it is, at seven.

    Confirmation? I was confirmed when I was eleven. This was in the mid-1960s. My class didn’t have much in the way of instruction-it was just a few weeks between having our names called for the formation of the class and the actual conferring of the Sacrament. But I did have an idea of what Confirmation was all about at the age of eleven. Mind you, this was in the Sixties!

    Today it’s different. There are more outside pressures on the kids. And sadly, many parents don’t live up to their responsibilities of being the first teachers of the Faith in the home.

    I’d like to see the age for Confirmation lowered from its current teenage years-maybe to eleven.

  59. robtbrown says:

    Sorry for the mistake about the quotation..I did know that was from St. Anselm and St. Augustine, but had a slip of memory. As to being in the theological mode of St. Thomas Aquinas, I do think he could have said that, especially at the end after his mystical experience. But, he didn’t.
    Comment by Supertradmum

    1. No, it is not St Thomas’ approach. He insists that natural reason is adequate to the knowledge of natural things also known by Faith, e.g., the existence of God, the existence and incorruptibility of the human soul, and morality. Further, reason can be understand arguments of appropriateness (ex convenientia) relative to the articles of the Faith.

    2. If you’re referring to the experience on the Feast of St Nicholas, that was probably the prayer of Transforming Union, the experience of which cannot be expressed.

  60. robtbrown says:

    Sorry about the interruptions..I am burning pizza cheese. I did mean the mystical experience of infused knowledge. These gifts are more common than some would think and children have been given such gifts, such as infused virtues as well as the infused gifts of the Holy Spirit. God gives such things to those whom He wishes.
    Comment by Supertradmum

    You’re right that God gives those things to whomever he wishes, but to make them as common as you seem inclined to do belittles the act of Faith.

    On the other hand, I do love pizza.

  61. robtbrown says:

    1. The Sacrament of Penance absolutely should come before Holy Communion. In Preparation for Death, St. Alphonsus Liguori tells the story of a four-year-old who was allowed to develop a habit of uttering terrible blasphemies, blasphemed God with his dying breath and gave frightening indications of damnation upon his death. The point is that we must not cherish romantic notions about the innocence of children, especially in an age when children are increasingly exposed to the most vile filth (and that’s just in the schools). Children can and do commit awful sins, so we must definitely start them on penance at an early age.
    Comment by Anita Moore OPL

    I don’t think it has much to do with a romantic notion of children. Rather, it is to give children the benefit of the grace of the Eucharist as early as possible.

  62. momoften says:

    Although some have no qualms about too early reception of the Holy Eucharist for children, I do. It is bad enough to see adults mishandle reception of the Holy Eucharist, and in some cases desecrate it, but I also see a good share of children unable to give due reverence upon reception of the Holy Eucharist. I think we as Catholics have adopted a secular idea that we have rights…and we need to remember that the Holy Eucharist is a privilege and gift, but to demand it because it is a right? And yes, parents need to be involved in the education process and living out their lives in a proper Catholic sense. The reality is many are not, and most children have a poor knowledge of their faith, and when they grow up-it doesn’t improve.

  63. Mrs. O says:

    I discussed this earlier with someone who indicated that he was referring to a trend, internationally, of the age being moved up in some areas.
    Here in the US, if a child is receiving earlier then penance should come first.
    They should be able to confess their sins at least.
    Age of reason to me is when a child knows right from wrong.
    Someone indicated that they are homeschooling and they see this understanding (sin) earlier in their children and I can attest to this.
    Some 5 year olds are very aware of their sin (no matter how small) and I think could benefit from the sacraments earlier.
    Right now, we are supposed to be able to have dispensation from the norm (7) or my understanding it is to be taken into consideration.
    They seem to want to push them through the classes and not take into consideration the individual child.

    Also, not sure more children are aware of sin earlier, but they are exposed to more adult things which they shouldn’t be.
    Should they be catechized earlier to offset this? Or should this be taken into consideration considering some areas are already doing sex ed with 5 yo?
    Maybe.

  64. The CNS coverage of this story assumes that Card. Canizares was suggesting 1st Communion “even before 7″

  65. Keep in mind that the Byzantine Rite has the children receive First Holy Communion and Confirmation on the day of Baptism. I’m not sure where the first Penance is made in all of that though.

    Of course, this does not change the norms for the Latin Rite.

  66. Mrs. O says:

    Ok, so if it is even before 7 I don’t think the focus should be on their immaculate soul, unless we are adopting the Byzatine norms, but on their ability to confess, and learn to their ability.
    I don’t know many 5 yo who can sit through a mass without going to sleep or getting distracted, etc.
    Those would be my concern.
    I do think it should be easier than it is to receive dispensation from the norms AND I think it should be confession/confirmation then 1st Holy Communion…

  67. Kate says:

    I understand that “The CNS coverage of this story assumes that Card. Canizares was suggesting 1st Communion “even before 7” and that Fr. Z feels it’s unclear.

    But perhaps Card. Canizares is speaking of the shift I see that moves First Communion from 7 up to 9 years of age?

    The “First Reconciliation in Second Grade and First Communion in Third Grade” means children are, on average, nine years old when they receive First Holy Communion.

    The two years between seven and nine are precious. To postpone First Communion until the end of third grade is not to gain time teaching, but to lose time to the culture of death. The effects of secular culture on children who are attending public schools and are being dropped off at the door of CCD class is disturbing. During those two years, a seven year old with wonder becomes a jaded “preteen” nine year old.(I know it’s to young to call them “preteen”, but that’s what our culture makes of them.) By nine, all the things that smack of “little kid” life have been rejected – toys, movies, televsion shows, and, without the reception of the Eucharist (and if no adult is watching out for them), reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

    We all need to be reminded of the spiritual power of the sacraments. I am so tired of the hoops parents have to jump through; I have taught CCD and have children of my own. I have, thankfully, been able to find priests to help me out, but other families have been left to the “system”, and frankly, many people are being turned off by lay DRE’s and silly “rules” of preparation.

    I know we want children to be well prepared, so why don’t our pastors and priests use their homilies to do this? I know some priests who walk the streets and strike up conversations with young people. Why not some more of that? People (children) are hungry for Christ, they’re just ignorant that He is the answer to our hunger. Boring, mandatory CCD classes run by well-intentioned lay people can never take the place of the power of a few inspiring words by a priest.

  68. Jayna says:

    “a papal decree which lowered the age of first communicants”

    Well, Quam Singulari didn’t so much lower the age as much as standardize it. The ages at which children received communion prior to its promulation were all over the place (and could even very from parish to parish within the same diocese), not to mention that sometimes First Penance did not occur until years after the child’s First Communion. Quam Singulari mandated that First Penance had to occur before First Communion (and he specifically said shortly before, presumably to make absolutely sure that the child was in a state of grace). That, I think, was the more important point to draw out of the document. Pius X was emphasizing the need to confess prior to the reception of communion. I am quite sure that he wanted that point to be driven home with adults as well as children.

    At any rate, I think 7 is as young as you can go with this. Can you even imagine a small child being able to reverently receive communion? And, of course, they would be going for the chalice as well. That’s just an accident waiting to happen.

  69. Jayna says:

    Sorry for the double post, but this came up just as I submitted mine.

    Kate: “The “First Reconciliation in Second Grade and First Communion in Third Grade” means children are, on average, nine years old when they receive First Holy Communion.”

    I’m not sure what diocese you’re in, but I know that in my parish just this year, the kids did their first confessions only weeks before First Communion. If I recall correctly, mine was just days before (and that was only about fifteen years ago).

  70. Prof. Basto says:

    When I was young, I was tought that people under the age of seven were considered by the Church as bearing no personal responsability for their actions.

    This had a few consequences:

    - First (presumed state of purity) -> The child under seven was (is?) considered to be in a state of purity, because, even if the child did something wrong (e.g. a sin), he or she wasn’t personally responsible. The wrong could not be imputed to the child’s responsability.

    - Second (different funeral rite for children under 7) -> precisely because baptized infants under seven were held not responsible for any personal wrong, and were thus in the same state of purity acquired with infant Baptism, if the child were to die, the Church had a different formulary for the funeral, that reflected the child’s personal state of innocence. So, the Church’s liturgy recognized the state of purity. Also, it was and is traditional to use white caskets in that situation.

    - Third(no need of the Sacrament of Penance before the age of seven) -> As a consequence of the presumed state of purity, children under 7 were in no need of confession and absolution. That, of course, changed once the child completed the age of seven, because, from that point on, the child, although still a minor, was held by the Church to bear at least some responsability for his or her actions and omissions.

    It seems that the Church’s position regarding children under seven HAS NOT CHANGED. Canon 97 §2. of the Code of Canon Law states:

    “§2. A minor before the completion of the seventh year is called an infant and is considered not responsible for oneself (non sui compos). With the completion of the seventh year, however, a minor is presumed to have the use of reason.”

    In my view, if personal responsability for oneself starts at the age of seven, it makes sense for a seven year old Catholic to start going to Confession.

    And if, at that age, he is canonically presumed to have the use of reason, then I submit that, in normal circumstances, the child should present himself to catechism and First Communion, and start receiving Holy Communion regularly from that age.

    Of course, all three events (parish catechism, first Penance and first Holy Communion, are linked).

    The problem nowadays, (and that might be what the Cardinal is trying to address), is that children are receiving catechism, First Penance and First Communion ever more at a later age. A silent reversal of the initiative of St. Pius X has been taking place, with an emphasys on First Communion (and thus first Penance) only after the end of childhood and the beggining of the teenage years.

    People where I live use to start a two year catechism program at the age of 10, and thus they only receive First Penance and First Communion usually at the age of 12 (is it perhaps an intended coincidence on the part of the Archdiocesan authorities with the customary age of the Jewish bar-mitzvah and the appearence of the Lord before the Doctors of the Law?).

    The consequence of receiving First Penance and First Communion only at 12 (or between the ages 10-15) is that, this 12 year old Catholic is deprived, first, of the Sacrament of Confession that he needs.After all, since the age of 7 the Church has been holding that minor as having at least partial responsability for his or her actions. So, there is, in this case, an absurd FIVE YEAR GAP, between “first personal sin” (or, at least, personal responsability for sins) and First Penance. Secondly, that young Catholic soul, that can already be tempted into wrongdoing, does not have the benefit of the reception of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord, for several years. He is thus, deprived of the graces associated with the reception of the Eucharistic Lord.

    So, the two things, personal responsability on one hand (imputed by Church law when one completes the age of seven) and reception of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion on the other hand, must not be separated. They must, in the Latin Church, go hand in hand. The above mentioned gap is not to be allowed.

  71. Supertradmum says:

    robtbrown,

    I believe, with Garrigou-Lagrange and Father Ripperger, fssp and others that God wants all the laity and indeed, religious and the clergy to reach the heights of all the levels of prayer, including the infused virtues and gifts. This idea was ignored and made almost extinct until the books were put back into print which allowed a renewed thinking on the process of holiness, and a much-needed review of pastoral theology, which had and has lost its way in the past forty years. One of the best talks I ever heard was by Father Ripperger, who stated that God wanted us all to not only achieve virtues, but to be purified to the point of receiving the higher gifts, infused virtue and infused gifts of the Holy Spirit. These ideas are not to belittle the gifts in any way and I am sure, from experience of children and the lives of the saints, that little children can be so gifted. There are more saints than the Church has canonized.

    Prof. Basto,

    With sex education in first grade and the fact that most children by eight have cell-phones and the Internet, I am sure that the little ones need all the Sacraments the Church is willing to bestow on these young ones. Definitely, First Confession and First Communion should be younger that the crazy ages you mentioned. How does a person form a conscience without daily examination of conscience and the graces of Confession and Holy Eucharist? One cannot do so. I can hardly believe the crazy gap you have described.

  72. Leonius says:

    All the sacraments in the world are not going to make up for such bad parents that allow such harm to be done to their children.

  73. Kate says:

    Jayna,

    Yes, I have seen children receive very reverently.
    I have also seen children receive very irreverently.

    It all depends on their understanding, training, and the example they receive from the adults in their lives.

    (Perhaps we should not be using the chalice so much anyway?)

  74. Prof. Basto says:

    And, of course, they would be going for the chalice as well.

    I’m not sure that Communion under both kinds is that prevalent worldwide.

    My Archdiocese is a liturgical mess, and nevertheless the Archbishops have at least managed to instill in the clergy the sense that Holy Communion should be rare. Usually, I only see reception under both kinds on Easter Sunday and Corpus Christi.

    A relative of mine was confirmed recently and the Confirmands received Communion under both kinds, but the rest of us did not.

    In any event, children shouldn’t be prevented from meeting the Eucaristic Lord for fear of accidents with the Precious Blood. Instead, it is the chalice that needs to be kept from the people except for rare occasions of Communion under Both Kinds.

    Catholic Theology has never promoted Communion under both kinds for the Laity; the phenomenon of people believing that Communion under both kinds is necessary or better is a novelty of the (poorly catechised) Modern Church, a novelty that gives in to Protestant impressions and that disregards the Dogma of the sub una.

  75. Mindyleigh says:

    At any rate, I think 7 is as young as you can go with this. Can you even imagine a small child being able to reverently receive communion? And, of course, they would be going for the chalice as well. That’s just an accident waiting to happen.

    In the Byzantine tradition, both species are served together by the priest via a spoon directly on the tongue of communicant. A linen is held under the chin of each person. I have watched many young, young children receive Him in this way and it touches me to the point of tears every time. They are certainly quiet, expectant, and present, receiving our Lord.

  76. Supertradmum says:

    Mindyleigh,

    Me too, as I mentioned above and the reverence of these children is remarkable. In all the years I attended the Divine Liturgy, I never saw an accident involving a child or adult.

  77. Mindyleigh says:

    Catholic Theology has never promoted Communion under both kinds for the Laity; the phenomenon of people believing that Communion under both kinds is necessary or better is a novelty of the (poorly catechised) Modern Church, a novelty that gives in to Protestant impressions and that disregards the Dogma of the sub una.

    Purely for the sake of better understanding, are you saying that the Second Vatican Council pronounced incorrectly about Holy Communion? What exactly do you mean by “Catholic Theology”? My understanding is that the Councils express Catholic theology.
    ***

    Holy Communion Under Both Kinds

    17. From the first days of the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion consisted of the reception of both species in fulfillment of the Lord’s command to “take and eat . . . take and drink.” The distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful under both kinds was thus the norm for more than a millennium of Catholic liturgical practice.

    18. The practice of Holy Communion under both kinds at Mass continued until the late eleventh century, when the custom of distributing the Eucharist to the faithful under the form of bread alone began to grow. By the twelfth century theologians such as Peter Cantor speak of Communion under one kind as a “custom” of the Church. (28) This practice spread until the Council of Constance in 1415 decreed that Holy Communion under the form of bread alone would be distributed to the faithful.

    19. In 1963, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council authorized the extension of the faculty for Holy Communion under both kinds in Sacrosanctum Concilium:

    The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact, Communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See. . . . (29)

    20. The Council’s decision to restore Holy Communion under both kinds at the bishop’s discretion took expression in the first edition of the Missale Romanum and enjoys an even more generous application in the third typical edition of the Missale Romanum:

    Holy Communion has a more complete form as a sign when it is received under both kinds. For in this manner of reception a fuller sign of the Eucharistic banquet shines forth. Moreover there is a clearer expression of that will by which the new and everlasting covenant is ratified in the blood of the Lord and of the relationship of the Eucharistic banquet to the eschatological banquet in the Father’s kingdom. (30)

    The General Instruction further states that “at the same time the faithful should be guided toward a desire to take part more intensely in a sacred rite in which the sign of the Eucharistic meal stands out more explicitly.” (31)

    21. The extension of the faculty for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds does not represent a change in the Church’s immemorial beliefs concerning the Holy Eucharist. Rather, today the Church finds it salutary to restore a practice, when appropriate, that for various reasons was not opportune when the Council of Trent was convened in 1545. (32) But with the passing of time, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the reform of the Second Vatican Council has resulted in the restoration of a practice by which the faithful are again able to experience “a fuller sign of the Eucharistic banquet.” (33)

    Source for endnotes, etc.:
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/liturgy/current/norms.shtml

  78. Prof. Basto says:

    Mindyleigh,

    As the above NCCB document points out, the Second Vatican Council authorized Communion under both kinds.

    But the said Council never promoted Communion under both kinds, much less frequent use of the authorization to give Communion under both kinds.

    And, even in that authorization, several caveats were placed: (i) the teaching of the Council of Trent still needed to be adhered to (i.e., one must believe the Dogma of the Sub Una); (ii) the Apostolic See was to determine the cases when this was to be allowed and (iii) the ultimate decision would be left to each Bishop, as Communion under both kinds would happen when the local ordinary tought fit.

    This authorization is hardly a promotion, much less a promotion of the widespread bonanza of Communion under both kinds that takes place in the US.

    And I submit that the frequent avaliability of Communion under both kinds in practice weakens the belief in the dogmas preached by the Council of Trent regarding the Eucharist, especially the dogma of the sub una, dogmas that the Second Vatican Council itself insisted, should remain intact.

    When you receive under one of both kinds, both THE SUBSTANCE (the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ there present) and the GRACES (graces associated with the reception of the Really Present Lord) are THE SAME. Only the SIGN is different.

    But, as the Magisterium of the Church, the difference of the SIGN is irrelevant vis-à-vis the fact that the SUBSTANCE is the same. That is to say: nothing is added, either in SUBSTANCE or in the GRACE by receiving under both Kinds. The Eucharist is ABSOLUTELY THE SAME when you receive under one species only.

    Nowadays people have a very disturbing tendency of diregarding the very reverent practices of Second Millenium Catholicism in favour of a primitivism, a supposedly better return to the origins.

    As you said, the Fathers of Constance decreed that Communion should be delivered to the laity under the species of the Host alone; and that decision already reflected the practice of the Holy Roman Church. Was the Holy Roman Church and the Ecumenical Council of Constance wrong in its decision to restrict reception of the Eucharist by the laity to one species only? Of course not.

    Such a restriction: (i) assured more reverence and less accidents with the handling of the Sacred Species; and (ii) made no difference when it comes to the SUBSTANCE of the Sacrament or the graces it brings to the communicants.

    On the other hand, I suspect that many of those who insist on always receiving under both kinds really believe that the reception under one species alone is not quite complete, not quite the same as the Eucharist under both kinds, and that the reception under both kinds attracts more graces. That belief, that Communion under Both Kinds is something more, has more substance, than Communion under One Kind, is actually the denial of the dogma the Second Vatican Council directed that should be kept intact.

  79. catholicmidwest says:

    If they want to base the age on whether a person can reason or not, about 25% of the population would die of old age first. Seven is the formal “age of reason” by which it is expected that most people are no longer blank critters. Seven is young, in my view.

  80. Cricket says:

    I was a few months short of my 9th birthday when I received my First Holy Communion. Old enough to understand the significance of the Sacrament & “yearn” for it; young enough not to be blase. The profundity of the experience has remained with me almost 50 years later.

  81. Leonius says:

    I received my first holy communion at seven years and cannot even remember it, for me even seven is to young for that reason, it would have strengthened my faith I think if I could have actually remembered the reverence I imagine there was on that day.

    As such whatever lessons I learned that day did not remain with me to my loss.

  82. Mindyleigh says:

    Prof. Basto, thank you for clarifying.

  83. LaudemGloriae says:

    I had been instructed that a child is not capable of real sin until the “age of reason” so I see less urgency for first Penance prior to that age. I was further instructed that mortal sin could not be committed until at least age 14. If memory serves that came from a canon lawyer. Regarless, it’s a large window of time to form the conscience.

    However I believe there is merit to the points raised by Supertradmum re the Byzantine rite which gives Communion and Confirmation at Baptism to infants. Our comprehension (or lack thereof) does not hinder God’s action. I have a child with disabilities and it pains me that she will likely never make her First Communion. She is seven years old and this would have been her year. It seems there ought to be some provision for the mentally disabled. Wasn’t Terri Schrivo brought Communion?

  84. Peggy R says:

    As a mom of 2 boys whose circuits aren’t quite functioning properly, I am monitoring our eldest to see whether I think he’s ready for 1st communion this coming spring. He’ll be in the 2nd grade which prepares for 1st confession and 1st communion this coming school year. I want to be sure he’s ready and understand what it means to confess his sins as well prior to receiving Our Lord.

    I helped our parish PSR 2nd grade last year. I thought the direction and formation for confession and communion grossly inadequate, lacking in some fundamentals and in structure. The children received no guidance on what to say in confession or a run-through of the commandments for ideas of what types of sins they might have committed and might confess. Also the connection between confession and reception of Our Lord was not made.

    My children will receive Our Lord on the tongue, regardless of what is practiced by our parish in preparation for 1st communion.

    And re, children playing their own games, yes. I sent the boys to one week of summer camp, which they didn’t like. I had thought it important for them to meet new kids and play sports and the like. We had an opportunity to join our local swim club. I dropped any further ideas of camp in favor of the swim pool. It was a good decision. Every day we go we will see old friends or make new ones. The kids make up their own games. My kids learn from the older ones. It’s a good time every time. With the heat, we don’t see neighbor kids until evening–and many are stuck at camp or day care programs ALL summer. [The heat didn't stop us too much in the old days.] The pool gets kids outside during the day when it’d be too hot otherwise. We’re happy to see them make up their own games with neighbors as well. We have lots of boys their age in the n-hood.

  85. terryprest says:

    Some of the anecdotes in the Comments are quite worrying. They seem to indicate that in some places “Quam singulari” is being ignored.

    For example:

    Andrew “My children were being held back closer to their teens. Once I went to plead with my pastor when my son along with all the other children in his class was (in my opinion) being held back from his first communion unnecessarily. He referred me to the parish CCD educator: a young woman who brushed me off with not much courtesy: “you’ll see they’ll be ready next year” she called out to me in a hurry and went off.”

    Kate: “The “First Reconciliation in Second Grade and First Communion in Third Grade” means children are, on average, nine years old when they receive First Holy Communion.”

    Prof. Basto: “People where I live use to start a two year catechism program at the age of 10, and thus they only receive First Penance and First Communion usually at the age of 12″

    I found Quam Singulari at http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10quam.htm. There is a simple easy to follow commentary in The Catholic Encyclopedia at
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12590b.htm

    Both are well worth looking at.

    The general thrust is that First Communion (and First Confession) should not be delayed and should be as soon as possible. The “knowledge” and “capacity to reason” requirements of the person receiving First Communion are minimal.

    “Quam Singulari” said:

    “[I]t is clear that the age of discretion for receiving Holy Communion is that at which the child knows the difference between the Eucharistic Bread and ordinary, material bread, and can therefore approach the altar with proper devotion. Perfect knowledge of the things of faith, therefore, is not required, for an elementary knowledge suffices-some knowledge (aliqua cognitio); similarly full use of reason is not required, for a certain beginning of the use of reason, that is, some use of reason (aliqualis usus rationis) suffices …

    A full and perfect knowledge of Christian doctrine is not necessary either for First Confession or for First Communion. Afterwards, however, the child will be obliged to learn gradually the entire Catechism according to his ability …

    The knowledge of religion which is required in a child in order to be properly prepared to receive First Communion is such that he will understand according to his capacity those Mysteries of faith which are necessary as a means of salvation (necessitate medii) and that he can distinguish between the Bread of the Eucharist and ordinary, material bread, and thus he may receive Holy Communion with a devotion becoming his years”

    Perhaps, on this centenary Pope Benedict XVI and the Cardinal should re-iterate and enforce the order of Pope Pius X that the “Ordinaries make this Decree known not only to the pastors and the clergy, but also to the people, and he wishes that it be read in the vernacular every year at the Easter time. The Ordinaries shall give an account of the observance of this Decree together with other diocesan matters every five years.”

    As regards whether the age should be lowered from 7, why not ? I

    n Europe school starting ages vary from 4 to 7. By 5 or 6, millions can read, write, spell, do arithmetic, etc.

    See http://www.nfer.co.uk/nfer/publications/44410/44410.pdf

    Further, most European states now require certain subjects and matters to be taught to the youngest primary children even in Catholic primary schools such as sex education (under the guise of “health education”), principles of good citizenship. In Britain the schools also have to start teaching about what is right and what is wrong.

    In most families both parents are required to go out to work for the family to survive. Less time is available for parents to look after their children and supervise what they are taught or learn not only in schools but also through the media such as television and the like.

    If the Church wants to innoculate children against secular humanism, should it not start earlier to administer “an antidote whereby we may be freed from daily faults and be preserved from mortal sins.”

  86. LaudemGloriae says:

    @ Prof. Basto I believe the Vatican II authorization of the laity to receive under one or more species was due to the *perceived* elitism of the Precious Blood being reserved to clergy/religious alone. Even within religious communities the Precious Blood might only be given to a brother or sister on his/her profession, etc. So whether or not that reflects an improper understanding of both species being one and the same, its treatment and availability has not been uniform.

    I think one could make a compelling argument that receiving the Precious Blood via chalice is better than receiving the Body in the hand, definitely I think this would provide less opportunity for profanation (pocketing a host, etc).

  87. jfk03 says:

    I have attended a Byzantine Catholic parish for the past three years. Unlike Roman Catholic parishes in our area, we have many young children. Our priest regularly preaches on the importance of having children. Infants and very young children receive communion unless they are ill or asleep. Infants and toddlers are always held by their parents; they receive the Lord’s Body and Blood on a spoon, directly from the priest, who addresses each by name. This always occurs in a reverent manner. The children are accustomed to being present through the entire Divine Liturgy, which consumes 2+ hours on an average Sunday, longer on feast days.

    The Byzantine churches have no place for kiddie masses. Regular attendance at the Divine Liturgy — with one’s family — is an important part of a child’s formation. The western concept of a child not receiving communion until the “age of reason” is an entirely different approach. The Byzantine tradition focuses more on the work the Lord accomplishes in the soul of a child through reception of Holy Communion, while the Western tradition is more concerned with the child’s pre-communion formation, confession and ability to understand the nature of the Sacrament.

    Having said that, I think it would be a mistake to abruptly change the Western practice and allow infants or toddlers to receive Communion. Part of the problem is that in many western parishes adults are not particularly reverent when they receive communion. In my own experience, many Roman Catholics act like receiving communion is a kind of ho-hum experience. Moreover, allowing a child to receive the host on the hand, or by drinking directly from the chalice, could lead to real abuses — particularly where the parents are less than attentive to their duty to catechize their own children.

    Both East and West need to become more aware of each other’s traditions, and give them due respect.

  88. robtbrown says:

    I believe, with Garrigou-Lagrange and Father Ripperger, fssp and others that God wants all the laity and indeed, religious and the clergy to reach the heights of all the levels of prayer, including the infused virtues and gifts. This idea was ignored and made almost extinct until the books were put back into print which allowed a renewed thinking on the process of holiness, and a much-needed review of pastoral theology, which had and has lost its way in the past forty years. One of the best talks I ever heard was by Father Ripperger, who stated that God wanted us all to not only achieve virtues, but to be purified to the point of receiving the higher gifts, infused virtue and infused gifts of the Holy Spirit. These ideas are not to belittle the gifts in any way and I am sure, from experience of children and the lives of the saints, that little children can be so gifted. There are more saints than the Church has canonized.
    Comment by Supertradmum

    1. It’s true about Fr Garrigou, but another Dominican, Fr Arintero, was really the founder of the modern theology of the universal call to holiness (Garrigou himself acknowledges Fr Arintero in Les Trois Ages). Later, Opus Dei adopted this. The principles, however, are found in St Thomas.

    There are three pertinent works in this matter (all double volumes).

    Two by Dominicans:

    The Mystical Evolution by Fr Arintero
    The Three Ages by Fr Garrigou

    And one by a Discalced Carmelite, Pere Marie Eugene

    Vol I: I Want to See God
    Vol II: I Am a Daughter of the Church

    2. All that having been said, for some reason you think I’m denying those principles. In fact, I endorse them for good reason, which I’ll mention later.

    What I was questioning, however, was your concept of the act of faith. Just from the little you wrote, I wonder whether you have a semi-Pelagian concept of it (something fairly common both in the States and in GB). Then you compensate with an overly eager application of infused knowledge, which as I noted earlier, is species impressed on the intellect by God.

    3. BTW, I taught a course in Mystical Theology at the FSSP Seminary–also a few others.

  89. robtbrown says:

    @ Prof. Basto I believe the Vatican II authorization of the laity to receive under one or more species was due to the perceived elitism of the Precious Blood being reserved to clergy/religious alone. Even within religious communities the Precious Blood might only be given to a brother or sister on his/her profession, etc. So whether or not that reflects an improper understanding of both species being one and the same, its treatment and availability has not been uniform.
    Comment by LaudemGloriae

    Before Vat II religious did not receive under both species. The celebrant did and does to complete the Sacrifice.

    In religious orders Communion under both species was reserved for special occasions, e.g., solemn vows. I think the same practice was used for spouses who are being married.

  90. For whatever this is worth;
    my sister brought her daughter, my niece, AnneMarie, up with her in the Communion line.
    My sister received, on the tongue, kneeling..her daughter/my niece (at 3 yrs of age, mind you) reached out her hand towards the Sacred Host and said, “JESUS”.
    It was all I could do to prevent myself from giving this child Holy Communion.
    I don’t think it was a mistake or a “strange moment”. I think she made an act of faith and could have received “JESUS” in the Holy Host.

  91. kat says:

    I suppose I cannot verify this as fact; though maybe someone somewhere can find out if it’s true…but, when I read a life of St. Pius X once, I clearly and have constantly remembered a story where a mother was having a talk with the Holy Father, and she had her 4 year old child standing by quietly. The Pope asked if the child received Holy Communion yet; the mother said, “oh no, he is not old enough.” The Pope asked the child what Holy Communion was, and the child promptly responded “Jesus,” at which point the Pope supposedly told the mother to bring the child to his own private Mass the next day and gave the child First Communion. Whether or not this is true, maybe we won’t be able to find out; but it seems (at least from that author), that the Pope’s only requirement of knowledge was that the child knew he was receiving Jesus, not bread.

    Children don’t “hit the age of reason” upon the day of their 7th birthdays. Some reach it earlier, some later. My nephew made his 1st Confession and received 1st Communion when he was 5, after being tested by the priest. My own children so far have all received both sacraments in 1st grade, which is when they are prepared for both, in our school and in our Catechism program. But Father speaks with and tests each child individually; some have to be retested to be sure any important knowledge is known and understood well. Some children are told to wait until the following year. Some parents hold their own children back when they just know they are not ready to receive. Confession is always made before 1st Communion.

    There really is not a magic age of 7 to say a child is ready or not.

    Interesting side note: My parents, in the Archdiocese of Detroit, received their Confirmation about a week after 1st Holy Communion, back in the 30′s, and 1st Communion was received in 1st grade.

  92. bookworm says:

    If any of you are concerned about your child receiving proper instruction in the Sacrament of Penance through their CCD program or parish school, try this:

    About a year or so before you expect your child to be making First Communion, bring him or her along with you to confession, and ask the priest to do a practice run. If it’s just practice and a full reconciliation room is available, you can stay and observe, and help the child along. Keep doing this periodically, at least every few weeks or so. If you want to make a “real” confession your child can wait outside, or you can save your real confessions for another time.

    I did this with my daughter, who is autistic, so that she got used to going into the confessional/reconciliation room and talking to the priest. Autistic kids take a while to adjust to any new routine so I figured it was best for her to learn in a pressure-free setting, just Mom and her and Father, with no time deadlines. I also provided her with a “cheat sheet” listing the prayers, and even a few sample sins, the first few times.

    By the time first confession rolled around she knew what to do. She’s been going on her own ever since. I try to go about once a month myself, and I always ask my daughter if she’d like to come. She almost always does.

    I think this method would work for just about any kid. It doesn’t require any special effort if you, the parent, are already going to confession regularly, and if you go during regularly scheduled confession hours, only takes up a few minutes of the priest’s time.

  93. Supertradmum says:

    robtbrown,

    Do not fear. I firmly believe in free will and choice. I am neither a semi-Pelagian, nor a Calvinist, nor a reactionary against either heresy, but a true daughter of the Church, even though from the Midwest. And, thanks for the list of books, as I am an inveterate reader. Am reading Garrigou-Lagrange and other things at this time. Do you like his book on Predestination?

    By the way, although I have not taught at such a prestigious place as you have, and how wonderful that must have been, I have taught courses on Modernism. In fact, I am in the process of discussing “Unigenitus” with a young person at this time, who is interested in discussing the problems of how such a heresy as Pelagianism infected not only the seminaries of Europe and America, but the lay Catholic classrooms at a certain period. I am sure the reaction of bad seminary training beginning in at least the late 1950s was a bad reaction to both p and s-p.

    I do know what infused knowledge is as well. If I misled anyone in mistaking my point, I apologize. The problem with pithy comments is to be short and exact at the same time.

  94. Faith says:

    There was some commotion a few years back, in my parish, when a communicant, while receiving the Host himself, broke off a piece and put it in the mouth of the infant he was carrying in his arms. He received on his tongue, bit off a piece, and took it with his fingers and placed it inside the baby’s mouth.
    The EM was shocked. Afterwards, she told Father. Father somehow found out that the communicant was Mexican. And he said that in Mexico, the sacraments of initiation are given at once–at Baptism.

  95. Prof. Basto says:

    CORRIGENDUM

    When I wrote yesterday, at 4:34 p.m. that “he Archbishops have at least managed to instill in the clergy the sense that Holy Communion should be rare” I meant to say “he Archbishops have at least managed to instill in the clergy the sense that Holy Communion under both kinds should be rare”.

    I don’t know how that all important bit was left out, changing the meaning of what I wrote completely.

    I think all those who discussed with me understood what I meant from the context, but, anyway, let the correction stand on the record.

  96. sulldjjr says:

    I have a seven year-old daughter entering 2nd grade at our parochial school. She will receive First Communion and First Penance at the end of this school year with her class. As much as I would have loved to have her receiving communion earlier, she would not have been ready. Now that she can read, she follows the missal in Mass and constantly asks questions about the Faith. If understanding the significance of the Eucharist is important, then there is no justification for lowering the age.

  97. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    We have always communed infants in the Byzantine Rite. No one, even adult, can ever comprehend the infinite awesomeness of this most blessed Mystery. To consume Divinity doesn’t require children to understand what adults cannot understand. It is good to baptize children, but to wait to commune them is like planting a flower and not giving it the necessary nourishment which is the Eucharist. Baptism is the strong foundation but it is the Eucharist which fortifies, beatifies, and transfigures the person into a saint. Why prevent our most precious vessels of the Holy Spirit from coming to our Saviour?

  98. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    “With respect to the participation of infants in the Divine Eucharist after baptism and chrismation with holy myron, the prescriptions of the liturgical books of each Church sui iuris are to be observed with the suitable due precautions.” (Canon 710 of the Eastern Churches)

    It is only the Latin Rite Church which still refuses infants communion. In this instance it would seem better to me if the Latin Rite would come in line with the greater Catholic tradition.

  99. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Also, why commune under one species when our Lord used two? Could you just baptize in the name of the Father because the Son, and Holy Spirit are one in essence and consubstantial with Him. It is best to do what our Saviour did when He instituted Mysteries. Christ gave communion under both kinds.

  100. Andrew says:

    A number of posters on this thread express their private opinions about what they think might be best, even without any regard for the Church’s existing praxis or custom. And some seem to adopt views that border on superstition. Sacraments are not magic! For example, the Church has never suggested that children of non Catholics should be baptised or given Holy Communion. Why not if little infants are so precious in God’s eyes? Because of evangelization. People must hear the Word of God, first, and accept it. We should not get too creative with our own ideas of what is “awsome”. The charism of teaching the faith, of preserving the traditions, and of right discipline belongs to the magisterium. Just because something might appear to be “wonderful” to me, I am not ready to suggest that my proposal should be followed by others. And we should definitely not mix customs between the Eastern churches and the Latin rite churches. It also troubles me to see that so many people seem to be ready to jump from rite to rite.

  101. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Awesome: Inspiring awe, showing or characterized by awe.

    I see the Eucharist as awesome in the truest sense of this word. Andrew, should we wait to baptize infants until the age of reason? Of course not, but if we take the age of reason to its logical conclusion why baptize infants, or commune the mentally challenged? The Latin Rite stands outside of the REST of the Catholic Church when it comes to separating baptism, chrismation, and communion. While I have a deep respect for the Latin Rite, I see a need for her to conform to the rest of the Catholic Church in regard to sacramental harmony in the rites of reception into the Church.

  102. Nathan says:

    Interesting discussion and very good presentation of a number of points of view. I can’t make up my mind one way or the other.

    Could, perhaps, H.E. Card. Canizares be bringing this up as a trial balloon for considering bringing the Latin Church more in line with some of the laudable practices of the East? Would this be viewed in Moscow and at Mt Athos as (to use an arms control term) a “confidence-building measure” in discussions between Rome and the Orthodox Churches?

    After all, as I’ve read somewhere, Pope Benedict is the Pope of Christian Unity.

    In Christ,

  103. Sam Urfer says:

    “And we should definitely not mix customs between the Eastern churches and the Latin rite churches.”

    Why? Not to be flippant, but for what reason is mixing bad? The codification into distinct rites is not something set eternally in stone, but historically contingent. A number of Eastern Catholics, esp. their Traditionalists, cling to distinctly Latin practices, such as the Rosary, which are otherwise alien to Eastern praxis. My parish priest is from eastern Poland, and had a Byzantine Catholic grandmother. As a bi-ritual priest, his personal devotions are a mix. “Breathing with both lungs” does not necessitate ritual segregation.

    I will agree that there is a problem with “jumping rites”, just as there is with parish shopping in general. But read the Catechism on the “Sacraments of Initiation”. It is explicitly laid out that the current Eastern praxis is the traditional Western praxis. I’m just a guy, but it certainly seems that given strange eons, a return to the ancient practice of the Church in the west is highly probable, even desirable.

  104. Sam Urfer says:

    “Also, why commune under one species when our Lord used two? Could you just baptize in the name of the Father because the Son, and Holy Spirit are one in essence and consubstantial with Him. It is best to do what our Saviour did when He instituted Mysteries. Christ gave communion under both kinds.”

    This is a complex issue. Vatican II certainly said that receiving under both kinds was good, but there is ample evidence from the Fathers and Councils that receiving under either kind is receiving “Totus Christi”, the whole Christ. In particular, the examples of the sick receiving the body alone at home or the very young receiving the blood alone point to the equal dignity of both kinds. This became a problem when the Utraquists in Bohemia insisted that reception in only one kind was putting people’s souls in danger, a proposition firmly rejected at Trent. This article from the Catholic Encyclopedia should be taken with a grain of salt, due to more recent changes in Western praxis, but it’s worth a read: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04175a.htm

  105. Prof. Basto says:

    Sam Urfer,

    I would add something.

    If the dogmatic definition of the Ecumenical Council of Trent were not sufficient to prove that reception of one species is reception of Christ entire, and thus, equal to the reception under both kinds in all but the exterior sign, the constant liturgical practice of the Church would offer that proof.

    The custom of having only priest celebrant receiving under both kinds, with the congregation receiving under one species only (the Host) developed in the early part of the second millenium, arround the 12th century, and spread across the Latin Church. It gained favour in the Church of Rome and, in the time of the Ecumenical Council of Constance was made MANDATORY in the West.

    The restriction absolutely barring laymen and even clergymen not celebrating from receiving Holy Communion under both Species remained in force for circa 500 years, from the time of the Council of Constance to the time of the Second Vatican Council. A practice adopted by the Church for so long cannot be considered wrong.

    Also, apart from promulgating as dogmatic the doctrines regarding the Eucharist, including the dogma according to which reception of the Eucharist under one kind is the reception of the whole Christ, and thus substantially equivalent to reception under both kinds, the Sacred Ecumenical Tridentine Council also considered a petition for a wider use of communion under both kinds, besides the reception by the priest celebrant. And the Council decided to defer that matter to “our most holy Lord” (i.e., the Pope):

    DECREE TOUCHING THE PETITION FOR THE CONCESSION OF THE CHALICE: Moreover, whereas the same sacred and holy Synod, in the preceding Session, reserved unto another time, for an opportunity that might present itself, two articles to be examined and defined, which (articles) had been proposed on another occasion, but had not then been as yet discussed, to wit, whether the reasons by which the holy Catholic Church was led to communicate, under the one species of bread, laymen and also priests when not celebrating, are in such wise to be adhered to, as that on no account is the use of the chalice to be allowed to any one soever; and, whether, in that case, for reasons beseeming and consonant with Christian charity, it appears that the use of the chalice is to be granted to any nation, or kingdom, it is to be conceded under certain conditions; and what are those conditions; It has now,–in Its desire that the salvation of those, on whose behalf the request is made, may be provided for in the best manner,–decreed, that the whole business be referred to our most holy lord, as by this present decree It doth refer it; who, of his singular prudence, will do that which he shall judge useful for the Christian commonweal, and salutary for those who ask for the use of the chalice.”

    The Pope, receiving the Tridentine decrees, decided to do nothing, and thus the pre-Tridentine praxis of prohibiting Communion under Both Kinds (except for the priest celebrant, who was required to receive under both kinds to complete the Sacrifice of the Altar) remained until the 1960′s, except for a few rare indults (certain monarchs were allowed to receive under both kinds, but only in the Coronation Mass, etc.)

    Of course, I have nothing against Communion under both kinds per se.

    But, in keeping with the venerable tradition of the Latin Church, that Ritual Church that has benefitted from direct governance by, and unmatched unbroken historical communion with, the See of Peter (and whose traditional practices cannot be considered somehow inferior to the also venerable traditions of our Eastern brethren — I insist on that point because all too often today people are willing to do away with the ancient and venerable traditions of the Roman Rite in favor of Eastern practices foreign to us — and, by the way many of the aberrations and innovations of the liturgical reform were also commited under that pretext) I believe that Communion under both kinds by the laity should be rare. Just as concelebration also needs to be legal, safe and rare.

    Otherwise, what happens is the obliteration of the dogma that the whole Christ is received under one kind, and people start adhering to the wrong view that Communion under both kinds is somehow necessary or superior, and start believing that Communion under one kind is inferior or incomplete. The Second Vatican Council itself reminded that the eucharistic dogmas promulgated by Trent needed to be adhered to in intact form.

    For the convenience of all, I post the tridentine decree below

    * * *

    The sacred and holy, ocecumenical and general Synod of Trent,–lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same Legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein,-whereas, touching the tremendous and most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, there are in divers places, by the most wicked artifices of the devil, spread abroad certain monstrous errors, by reason of which, in some provinces, many are seen to have departed from the faith and obedience of the Catholic Church, It has thought fit, that what relates to communion under both species, and the com-munion of infants, be in this place set forth. Wherefore It forbids all the faithful in Christ to presume henceforth to believe, teach, or preach otherwise on these matters, than is in these decrees explained and defined.

    CHAPTER I.
    That laymen and clerics, when not sacrifising, are not bound, of divine right, to communion under both species.
    Wherefore, this holy Synod,–instructed by the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of godliness, and following the judgment and usage of the Church itself,–declares and teaches, that laymen, and clerics when not consecrating, are not obliged, by any divine precept, to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist under both species ; and that neither can it by any means be doubted, without injury to faith, that communion under either species [Page 141] is sufficient for them unto salvation. For, although Christ, the Lord, in the last supper, instituted and delivered to the apostles, this venerable sacrament in the species of bread and wine; not therefore do that institution and delivery tend thereunto, that all the faithful of Church be bound, by the institution of the Lord, to receive both species. But neither is it rightly gathered, from that discourse which is in the sixth of John,-however according to the various interpretations of holy Fathers and Doctors it be understood,–that the communion of both species was enjoined by the Lord : for He who said; Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you (v. 54), also said; He that eateth this bread shall live for ever (v. 59); and He who said, He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life (v. 55), also said; The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of (lie world (v. 52); and, in fine,- He who said; He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him (v. 57), said, nevertheless; He that eateth this bread shall live for ever (v. 59.)

    CHAPTER II.
    The power of the Church as regards the dispensation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
    It furthermore declares, that this power has ever been in the Church, that, in the dispensation of the sacraments, their substance being untouched, it may ordain,–or change, what things soever it may judge most expedient, for the profit of those who receive, or for the veneration of the said sacraments, according to the difference of circumstances, times, and places. And this the Apostle seems not obscurely to have intimated, when he says; Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. And indeed it [Page 142] is sufficiently manifest that he himself exercised this power,- as in many other things, so in regard of this very sacrament; when, after having ordained certain things touching the use thereof, he says; The rest I will set in order when I come. Wherefore, holy Mother Church, knowing this her authority in the administration of the sacraments, although the use of both species has,–from the beginning of the Christian religion, not been unfrequent, yet, in progress of time, that custom having been already very widely changed,–she, induced by weighty and just reasons,- has approved of this custom of communicating under one species, and decreed that it was to be held as a law; which it is not lawful to reprobate, or to change at plea sure, without the authority of the Church itself.

    CHAPTER III.
    That Christ whole and entire, and a true Sacrament are received under either species.
    It moreover declares, that although, as hath been already said, our Redeemer, in that last supper, instituted, and delivered to the apostles, this sacrament in two species, yet is to be acknowledged, that Christ whole and entire and a true sacrament are received under either species alone; and that therefore, as regards the fruit thereof, they, who receive one species alone, are not defrauded of any grace necessary to salvation.

    CHAPTER IV.
    That little Children are not bound to sacramental Communion.
    Finally, this same holy Synod teaches, that little children, who have not attained to the use of reason, are not by any necessity obliged to the sacramental communion of the Eucharist: [Page 143] forasmuch as, having been regenerated by th by the laver of baptism, and being incorporated with Christ, they cannot, at that age, lose the grace which they have already acquired of being the sons of God. Not therefore, however, is antiquity to be condemned, if, in some places, it, at one time, observed that custom; for as those most holy Fathers had a probable cause for what they did in respect of their times, so, assuredly, is it to be believed without controversy, that they did this without any necessity thereof unto salvation.

    ON COMMUNION UNDER BOTH SPECIES, AND ON THE COMMUNION OF INFANTS
    CANON I.–If any one saith, that, by the precept of God, or, by necessity of salvation, all and each of the faithful of Christ ought to receive both species of the most holy sacrament not consecrating; let him be anathema.

    CANON 11.–if any one saith, that the holy Catholic Church was not induced, by just causes and reasons, to communicate, under the species of bread only, laymen, and also clerics when not consecrating; let him be be anathema.

    CANON III.–If any one denieth, that Christ whole and entire -the fountain and author of all graces–is received under the one species of bread; because that-as some falsely assert–He is not received, according to the institution of Christ himself, under both species; let him be anathema.

    CANON IV.–If any one saith, that the communion of the Eucharist is necessary for little children, before they have arrived at years of discretion; let him be anathema.

    As regards, however, those two articles, proposed on another occasion, but which have not as yet been discussed; to wit, whether the reasons by which the holy Catholic Church was led to communicate, under the one species of bread only, laymen, [Page 144] and also priests when not celebrating, are in such wise to be adhered to, as that on no account is the use of the chalice to be allowed to any one soever; and, whether, in case that, for reasons beseeming and consonant with Christian charity, it appears that the use of the chalice is to be granted to any nation or kingdom, it is to be conceded under certain conditions ; and what are those conditions: this same holy Synod reserves the same to another time,–for the earliest opportunity that shall present itself,–to be examined and defined.

  106. webpoppy8 says:

    Personal story.

    With each of our eight children, we brought them to Mass from their earliest days. We took them through the Mass in a way appropriate to the age and personality of each. And when the Eucharist is consecrated we brought it to the attention of each one that Jesus Christ is present.

    (Now I don’t want to get into an argument about how we accomplished this without disrupting the liturgy. My wife and I are well-educated and well-informed Catholics and were able to keep our children engaged and quiet without snacks or picture books. )

    Our third child, our son when he was four, suddenly looked at the Eucharist at consecration and said “That is Jesus. I want Him.” That began two years of really, really unhappy Masses where we denied him Eucharist. After 8 or 10 weeks of crying at every Mass, our son clammed up in abject resignation. It became extremely difficult to effectively foster our son’s spiritual growth during this period.

    Our other seven children were content to begin receiving Eucharist at the normal age, which they did.

  107. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Prof. Basto,

    The Council of Trent is a post schism council broken from the total Catholic Church (especially when we consider that a viable Unia had not yet been established). It was this council which you referenced that said:”touching the tremendous and most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, there are in divers places, by the most wicked artifices of the devil, spread abroad certain monstrous errors, by reason of which, in some provinces, many are seen to have departed from the faith and obedience of the Catholic Church, It has thought fit, that what relates to communion under both species, and the communion of infants, be in this place set forth. Wherefore It forbids all the faithful in Christ to presume henceforth to believe, teach, or preach otherwise on these matters, than is in these decrees explained and defined.”

    Really, so it is from the “the most wicked artifices of the devil,” that infants, laity, and non-celebrants commune in the way established by our Saviour under both kinds? Last time I checked our Saviour said, “Take and eat, this is my body which is broken for YOU for the remission of sins.” “Drink of it all of YOU, this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.” You is plural and simultaneously singular. It means All of God’s people. All commune under both species by Divine Right because it was Divinity who instituted the Eucharist under both kinds by Divine Right. I suppose only the Lord had His blood at the Mystical Supper.

  108. Alice says:

    In my experience as a teacher, children recognize Christ’s presence in Holy Communion long before they understand sin. While it makes perfect sense to wait for First Confession until the child reaches the Age of Reason, it makes no sense to me for a child to have to wait until they can sin to receive Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps we could allow children to receive all the Sacraments of Initiation as infants and then have First Confession, followed by Solemn Communion (with the Renewal of Baptismal Promises) at the Age of Reason.

  109. Prof. Basto says:

    Dear Subdeacon Joseph,

    I don’t think that the references to “monstrous errors” and to “most wicked artifices of the devil”, contained in the Tridentine decree above quoted, are directed towards the Eastern practice of communion under both kinds.

    Rather, the “monstrous errors” spread by “wicked artifices of the devil” are, in my reading of the decree, DOCTRINAL ERRORS. That’s why, at the conclusion of the decree there are canons anathematizing the heretical DOCTRINAL PROPOSITION.

    - On the question of infant Communion:

    To my knowledge, our Eastern brethren do not hold that infant Holy Communion is necessary unto salvation. Hence they do not incurr the condemnation.

    Sure the Eastern Churches offer Communion at once to infants, but it is not believed that Communion is at once (before the age of personal responsability) necessary unto salvation.

    The Eastern Churches (catholic or orthodox) do not believe that the Western practice places children en route to damnation. They don’t believe that the Latin Church practice is wicked or wrong. They just have a diferent way of doing things.

    The Ecumenical Council of Trent was held in the context of the Counter-Reformation; the error the Council wanted to refute has nothing to do with the possibility of granting Communion to children before the age of reason, provided that the disciplinary norms authorized that (and the Latin norms at the time didn’t so authorize). After all, the Council itself stated that the Church had the authority to regulate the Sacraments in all but the essentials derived from Divine law. The error the Council wanted to refute was the error of those who held that the Holy Roman Church was doning wrong, of those who held that children were being placed en route to damnation; of those who held that infant Communion was not only possible but also necessary unto salvation.

    That is why an explicit saving is made regarding the ancient practice, that is, the practice of the Fathers before the Great Schism, when some (the Easterners) already alowed Communion for children. The Council states: “Not therefore, however, is antiquity to be condemned, if, in some places, it, at one time, observed that custom”.

    And the Council adds immediately thereafter, reffering to the ancient practice of infant baptism: “for as those most holy Fathers had a probable cause for what they did in respect of their times, so, assuredly, is it to be believed without controversy, that they did this without any necessity thereof unto salvation”.

    That is, the Council states that the practice of the ancient Fathers was OK, but that assuredly what they did was not a matter of necessity unto salvation.

    This makes clear that the “monstrous error” is NOT the practice of infant Communion itself, but rather the belief that such infant Communion was necessary unto salvation.

    In a similar way, an attentive reading of the above mentioned decree shows plainly that the Council of Trent never condemned Communion under Both Kinds in itself.

    What it condemned as a “monstrous error” in that regard was: a) firstly, the belief of some that the Church did not have the authority to regulate the manner for the reception of Communion and to place restrictions on Communion under Both Kinds; b) the belief that Communion under Both Kinds was necessary by Divine Precept or in any way necessary unto salvation, that is, the belief that Communion under one kind would not suffice to fulfill the Divine Precept or for the salvific purposes of the Sacrament; c) the grave error of those who hold that Christ is not whole and entire under one species alone or any particle thereof.

    Sure, Easterners receive Communion under both kinds. But, to my knowledge, they do not deny that the Eucharistic Lord is whole and entirely present under one species alone or a particle thereof; they do not deny that the reception under a single species suffices as reception of the Eucharist and fulfill the divine precept. So they do not incurr the condemnation.

  110. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    As Easterners we see the communion under one species as the exception and not the ordinary.

  111. robtbrown says:

    Supertradmum,

    Predestination is a very interesting topic that is intertwined with theology of Grace. It is very important, however, first to have a firm understanding of what St Thomas means by Providence, which it precedes the tract on Predestination.

    Not unrelated is that I consider the best Garrigou book to be De Deo Uno, which begins with the first question and includes those on both Providence and Predestination.

    The prestige theologates, most of which are in Europe, are those that offer Pontifical degrees, incl the doctorate. The FSSP seminary offered neither. On the other hand, I did have some very capable students there. One had a PhD in Math from Vanderbilt, another was an emergency room doctor, a third a chemical engineer. I had two grads of the Coast Guard Academy, and two from the Naval Academy, one a physics major. There was also a Brit with a PhD in physics, but he was still in the lower courses.

  112. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you and I have read Thomas A. on Providence, etc., and will do again. Please all pray for us now, as the heat index was 117 today the temperature 100, and now we are having electrical storms.

  113. Sam Urfer says:

    Subdeacon Joseph,

    What you are missing is the context of the vicious wars, where Utraquist forces killed priests and desecrated churches, over the issue of communion in both kinds. They claimed that without communion in both kinds, there could be no salvation, which is what Trent was addressing. This is clearly not true, as the ancient practice of giving the sick only the body, or children only the blood, demonstrate. Receiving under both kinds is becoming more normative in the Western Church in general, and reception in one kind alone might turn out to be by and large a historical anomaly in the grand scheme of Church history. However, the point of Trent, repeated by Vatican II, is that the Latin Church was not condemning people by offering one kind. If I receive only in one kind, which I myself tend to do, I receive the whole of Christ. There is not “extra” grace in two kinds that one kind does not provide; otherwise, the final communion of the sick would be deficient, which it is certainly not.

  114. Mrs. O says:

    I have to say, as a mother, the way the Byzantine celebrate the sacraments and include children/babies is very appealing to me. I am glad they have strict rules about “switching” – you can only switch one time but not back to the other rite or it would be a great temptation to join for a while.
    I like children/babies fully initiated in the Church.
    I understand why we have ours set up the way we do.
    If the children/babies were fully initiated (including confirmation), then penance later, would that really put the responsibility back on the parents who are the first teachers instead of being forced through classes? I think it would.

  115. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Sam,

    I have never doubted that communion under one kind was a deficient communion. As a subdeacon I have had to, on rare occasions and with the permission of my bishop to distribute the Eucharist. To infants you simply place the spoon on their tongue with the smallest amount of blood, and maybe a tiny piece of the bread which they could gum and swallow. However the blood is sufficient. We also had a woman with an extreme wheat allergy who only received the blood. These are exceptions though and by no way normative. What would this woman do if at a Latin High Mass, would she be denied the blood, and thus not receive God because she could not receive the body?

  116. Prof. Basto says:

    What would this woman do if at a Latin High Mass, would she be denied the blood, and thus not receive God because she could not receive the body?

    Subdeacon Joseph,

    That person would probably have to talk to her priest and the priest would have to apply on her behalf for an indult against the general norm that laymen only receive the Host in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the Traditional Latin Mass).

    If it were in the ordinary form, depending on the local regulations issued by the Bishop regarding the frequency of Communion under both kinds, the priest would have to apply for permission to give her the chalice, or he would already have that permission.

    * * *

    You wrote: “I have never doubted that communion under one kind was a deficient communion”. Is this sentence correct? The sentence as written expresses that you have not doubted, that is, you have always believed, that Communion under one kind is deficient. Do you confirm that or was there a typo?

    Do you believe that the Communion received by the person with wheat allergy is deficient (chalice alone)? Do you believe that the communion the Latin faithful receive is deficient (Host alone)?

    My understanding of the Eastern position (held by both Eastern Catholics and Orthodox) is that you Easterners practice Communion under Both Kinds as the norm (and allow Communion under one kind as a rare exception), while we Latins practice Communion under One Kind as the norm (and allow Communion under both kinds as a (since Vatican II, not so rare) exception — it used to be before Vatican II a very, very rare privilege, but now there is a general authorization with certain caveats and subject to the authority of the Bishop), but both sides, Easterners and Latins, agreed that the practice of the other side were not wicked or wrong, both Easterners and Latins agreeing that Communion under one kind sufficed as reception of the entire Christ.

    As Sam Urfer pointed out, the Tridentine anathema is directed at the doctrine of the utraquist heretics, who killed and injured priests and who held that the Holy Roman Church was not fullfiling the Divine Precept by giving to the laity Communion only under one species; the utraquist error held that all had the right to Communion under both kinds, that the Church could not restrict that right, that only by receiving under both kinds the Divine Precept was fulfilled, that reception under one kind only was not the reception of Christ entire and that it failed to bring all the graces of the Sacrament.

    The utraquist belief is totally different from the position that we have different liturgical practices but that both are legitimate.

    It resembles the question of the leavened bread: West uses unleavened bread, East uses leavened bread, but we agree that both practices are legitimate. The prozymite heresy only materializes when one contends that the use of unleavened bread would render the Eucharist invalid.

  117. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Prof. Basto,

    That was a typo and I apologize. So it would be up to the local bishop if he would allow a person with a wheat allergy to receive the blood alone at a Latin Mass. I see and understand.

  118. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    The Byzantine Church would never say communion under one kind was deficient at all. It just seems odd to us. That is all. Very interesting history concerning why the Latin Rite went to communion under one kind for the laity and non-celebrants alone. As Easterners we never covered this history in seminary, at least as of yet. Question: at a hierarchical liturgy in the Latin Rite would the bishop alone receive the blood as the principal celebrant?

  119. Prof. Basto says:

    Dear Subdeacon,

    At pontifical Mass (our hierarchical liturgy) in the Traditional Latin Mass (the extradinary form of the Rite, also known as Tridentine Rite), there was no concelebration at all, except for the Masses involving rites of priestly ordination or episcopal consecration.

    Thus, except for those Masses involving episcopal consacration or priestly ordination, the Bishop is the only celebrant of the pontifical Mass, and in that capacity he alone used to receive Communion under both kinds.

    In the Mass of priestly ordination, only the principal ordaining Bishop, as principal celebrant, received the chalice.

    It must be noted that the concelebration that takes place in Masses of priestly ordination is not as complete as that that takes place in the rite of episcopal consecration, because in priestly ordination the ordinands are not yet priests since the start of the rite, and so they only start to take part in the concelebration after the ordination proper.

    In the Mass of episcopal consecration, however, both the Bishop Consacrator and the Bishops-elect concelebrate from the start of the Mass, and, in that case, both the Bishop principal Consecrator and the newly Consecrated Bishops receive under Both Kinds.

    In the post Vatican II ordinary form of the Roman Rite things are different: concelebration is not restricted to rites of Ordination, and whenever concelebration happens, all Concelebrants receive under both kinds.