From a reader:
We hope to bring 2 children (extended family) to Mass on Christmas Eve. They have not been baptized.
QUAERITUR: Are unbaptized children allowed to go up to Communion with their arms crossed and receive a blessing? What about an adult who has been baptized but is not Catholic?
A priest can invoke God’s blessing on anyone, baptized or not.
However, Communion time is Communion time, not Blessing Time. There is a time for receiving a blessing during Mass, as it turns out.
This is a controversial topic and one about which I have written many times. You might check THIS entry, for example.
This practice has, alas, become widespread, much in the same way as church-wide hand-holding, or people saying the priest’s prayers, or having too many EMHCs have become wide-spread. And when someone (read: Father) suggests that these things should be curtailed, people who are emotionally invested in these practices call Father “mean” and then stage a little nutty about their “rights”, as if just because they like doing x or y, they are empowered by baptism with “rights” to do as they please.
Are non-Communicants “allowed” to go forward at Communion time? I guess so. An alarm won’t be triggered if they do.
But think about what is going on at different stages of Holy Mass.
Masses generally have three major orations or prayers: the Collect, the Super oblata over the gifts, the Post Communion. In each case in the Roman Rite there is a procession and a greeting and then the prayer.
The procession before the Post Communion is actually the procession of those people who go forward to receive the Eucharist because they are a) baptized and b) in Communion with the Church c) admitted to Communion, and d) properly disposed physically by fasting, and e) properly disposed spiritually by being in the state of grace. What happens in the parish church may not seem like a procession in all cases, but going forward is a liturgical act of the faithful, who, because of an interior disposition (baptismal character and a willed, knowing, active receptivity) manifest their disposition outwardly in movement to go forward to receive.
Our baptismal character and our ability to receive is the key to the movement forward.
In ancient times, the non-baptized catechumens were not even allowed to be inside the Church when the Eucharistic phase of Mass began, much less trot up and get a blessing, something entirely inappropriate for the moment.
Of course, practically speaking, mothers cannot leave unbaptized infants or children below the age of reason in the pew alone. If Mom chooses to receive at Mass, Mom brings little Stupor or Stupores Mundi along.
But going forward at Communion time actually means something. It isn’t a time for curiosity fulfillment, or novelty seeking, or entertaining young’uns.
Finally, that “arms crossed” thing. To add to the confusion, some people cross their arms when they want to receive Communion on the tongue, instead of on the hand.
A plant that is in the wrong place is a weed. A rose in the wrong place is a weed. Roses are great, but they don’t belong everywhere. Blessings are great, but they don’t belong everywhere. I think we need to weed this practice out of our participation at Mass.