Friday, April 29, 2011

Child Denied First Communion

Carrie sent this over a few days ago:

Child Denied First Communion: Family Of Floresville 8-Year-Old Fighting For Holy Sacrament

Interesting, the child was denied because he "was not able to understand the meaning of receiving the body of Christ." I find that to be discrimination because seventy percent of Roman Catholics do not understand the Eucharist.


Viisaus said...

This RC policy to postpone giving the sacrament of Eucharist for kids was and is JUST AS "arbitrary" as the Baptist policy to postpone giving the sacrament of Baptism for kids. Romanists should be reminded of this.

Already back in the Reformation era Protestant scholars pointed out that the RCC, with all its pretensions to traditionalism, had simply given up one big tradition that early Christians had practised, which the EOs have always practised and which the Hussites had sought re-instate - namely, the Infant Communion:


"If paedocommunion was the common practice of the church in ancient days, then why do we not practice it today? Keidel asserts that infants and children were forbidden from the Lord's Supper because of "the doctrine of transubstantiation and the doctrine of concomitance (i.e., that Christ is present entirely under either kind)... The fear that infants and children might spill the wine and thereby profane the actual body and blood of the Lord appears to have been the primary reason for this discontinuance."49 Actually, it was not only the infants and children who ceased drinking the "transubstantiated" wine. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries ALL of the laity (in the West), adults included, began to back away from the cup. 50

In a further attempt to justify the termination of paedocommunion, the Fourth Lateran Council also came to "the landmark decision that confession must precede communion and that first communion should occur at the 'age of discretion.'"60 Therefore, communion becomes associated with confession instead of baptism. "Infants who had enjoyed full membership in the church in times past were reduced to catechumen status by the actions of the Lateran Council and the Council of Trent."61"

zipper778 said...

It reminds me of this situation that happened 6 or 7 years ago:

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello all, Viisaus paints with a broad brush and illustrates the problem with labeling Catholics as "Roman" Catholics.

Paedocommunnion is practiced TODAY in the Catholic Church in the Eastern Rite Churches just as it is practiced in the Orthodox Church. The reason that the Latin Rite Church does not do this is not a matter of dogma, but of discipline:

"The same holy council teaches that little children who have not attained the use of reason are not by any necessity bound to the sacramental communion of the Eucharist; for having been regenerated by the laver of baptism and thereby incorporated with Christ, they cannot at that age lose the grace of the sons of God already acquired. Antiquity is not therefore to be condemned, however, if in some places it at one time observed that custom. For just as those most holy Fathers had acceptable ground for what they did under the circumstances, so it is certainly to be accepted without controversy that they regarded it as not necessary to salvation." (Council of Trent, Sess. XXI, Chapter iv).

Without doing in-depth research on the history of this issue, I can speculate that the difference has to do with the emphasis of the Latin Rite Church on the sort of grace that one receives with reception of Our Lord in the Euchatrist and the Eastern emphasis on the communal aspects of the sacrament. The sacrament of confirmation, for example, is also given to infants in the Eastern Rite but delayed in the Latin Rite until much later.

In case someone wants to claim that this is just arbitrary and capricious, Canon Law does provide the reasoning why the Latin Rite Catholics as a matter of policy do not continue the custom at this time:

Can. 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.

Can. 914 It is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible. It is for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion.

Please note that the provision that children should not receive communion until the age of reason is not absolute.

Non-"romanists" ought to remember that theology is often borne out of praxis and culture and that all traditions are not to be equated with Tradition.

God bless!

Viisaus said...

Thank you, Mr. Hoffer, for providing the relevant Tridentine decision.

"The same holy council teaches that little children who have not attained the use of reason are not by any necessity bound to the sacramental communion of the Eucharist"

By what logical basis can RCs then criticize people like Baptists who postpono the sacrament of Baptism for their children until they attain "the use of reason"?

A literalistic reading of John 6:53 (that RCs usually favor) would indicate that such children who die before having ever partaken in the Eucharist are in deep trouble. One would think that they would at least be in for a very long time in the Purgatory.

Viisaus said...

According to this information, RC authorities are apparently not in any hurry to rush some, say, twelve-years old kid to the Confirmation and Communion, although he might any day get run over by a truck and thus die in a virtual state of excommunication, if we should take RC sacramental theory seriously.

"In the Latin-Rite (i.e., Western) Catholic Church, the sacrament is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion (generally taken to be about 7, but most people are confirmed at ages 14–15), unless the Episcopal Conference has decided on a different age, or there is danger of death or, in the judgement of the minister, a grave reason suggests otherwise [3].

Confirmation became a much more important ritual within the Catholic Church in response to the Reformation's concerns about understanding and faith, as well as the age of consent.[9]

The age of discretion, also known as the age of reason, is defined by the Church as: "The name given to that period of human life at which persons are deemed to begin to be morally responsible." Children have always been admitted to the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion around age seven. But, when it comes to Confirmation, the law gives great latitude to bishops, who are free to determine that a later age is more suitable for the reception of the sacrament. Since the time of the Second Vatican Council, the trend has been for Catholics to receive Confirmation later. Forty years ago, most Catholics were confirmed in the seventh or eighth grade. In the last twenty years, Confirmation has been moved to ninth and tenth grade."

Viisaus said...

I seem to have bit confused the ages of Confirmation and first Communion. On the other hand, I see that the sacrament of Confession is also age-restricted.

But the point remains - why do RCs consider baptism such a special sacrament that it cannot be delayed to the age of seven or fourteen like the others? Especially since EOs and also Eastern Catholics give Confirmation or Chrismation to their babies right after the baptism.

Why are Eastern Catholics anyways given special rights, like married clergy? Is this not a blueprint for anarchy?

Lvka said...

seventy percent of Roman Catholics do not understand the Eucharist.

This guy has even more frightening statistics...

Carrie said...

After being told by online Catholics (the kind who would consider me separated brethren) that I am "incomplete" because I don't have access to the Eucharist, I was surprised by this article.

Because it seems more than just about age, I assume it puts anyone with severe mental disabilities at a disadvantage.

Viisaus said...

The Catechism of Trent seems to operated from Pelagian premises, as it did not consider little children to be "capable of malice"... whereas little toddlers can often show sociopathic indifference to the well-being of others.

"The Age At Which The Law Of Confession Obliges

As the law of confession was no doubt enacted and established by our Lord Himself, it is our duty to ascertain, on whom, at what age, and at what period of the year, it becomes obligatory. According to the canon of the Council of Lateran, which begins: Omnis utriusque sexus, no person is bound by the law of Confession until he has arrived at the use of reason, a time determinable by no fixed number of years. It may, however, be laid down as a general principle, that children are bound to go to confession as soon as they are able to discern good from evil, and are capable of malice; for, when a person has arrived at an age when he must begin to attend to the work of his salvation, he is bound to confess his sins to a priest, since there is no other salvation for one whose conscience is burdened with sin."

Brigitte said...

I have been thinking about this, as I have read some different opinions.

When you read reformation literature, you find that Luther/Melanchton stressed that their congregation members were "examined" before they communed, which meant that they knew what the Supper was and meant. Catechesis was a big stress in forming Christians. For me that goes together with Paul's thought of "discerning" the body.

CathApol said...

why do RCs consider baptism such a special sacrament that it cannot be delayed to the age of seven or fourteen like the others?

Because Baptism confers upon the recipient Actual/Sanctifying Grace. It is not the will of the person receiving Baptism which counts, but the Will of God that we are baptised. Do you not know that Baptism doth now save you?

Especially since EOs and also Eastern Catholics give Confirmation or Chrismation to their babies right after the baptism.

You're comparing apples and oranges and making a non sequitur argument. It does not follow that because Confirmation may we withheld that Baptism should be as well.

Why are Eastern Catholics anyways given special rights, like married clergy? Is this not a blueprint for anarchy?

The ethnic cultural traditions are recognized within the different rites of the Catholic Church. This is not a "blueprint for anarchy," but an example of tolerance and diversity.


steelikat said...

My $.02
In this case, delaying communion might be the right thing to do. If the child hasn't reached a point where he can understand at least that communion is something more than just food, it would make sense to delay communion until he is older. If otoh there is little hope that he will ever have any kind of understanding but he can receive it, it should not be delayed forever, they should probably let him begin receiving it. He can still benefit from it. I suspect the parents overreacted but I wasn't there so I don't know. Did the pastor say "he can never ever receive communion" or did he say "let's wait." big difference.

EA said...

The interesting thing about this story to me is that it is very rare that the RCC denies anyone First Communion. You almost never hear of it. This story is notable in that it is such an exception.

The average recipient of first communion is in the second grade. It seems very probable to me that a large percentage of these children do not understand what it is that they are supposed to be receiving.