Monday, August 09, 2010

the faith of a child...

... Seems there is a buzz being generated about the topic of age of reason for children recieving their first Holy Communion, largely due to this article. Since this is a bone of contention with me I will allow myself to indulge and post about a news item that has been blogged to death about already.

I may never understand the Romans practice of a child's formation in preparation for their sacraments. Children are born with amazing faith. The older they get the more the world begins it's influence and that perfect unwavering faith of a child starts to wither and corrupt with doubt.

Why wait till they are 8 or 9 to receive the Body of Christ?

How much catechism does a child already believing with their whole heart need? Certainly not 2 years of complete and utter rubbish taught by unqualified, but well meaning, parents whose only interest in teaching faith formation extends to the fact their own children are involved.

I know not all parent's practice their faith to the fullest so it is imperative that faith formation exists for those children. I know these classes were once taught by nuns whose numbers are diminishing. Some one has to do the job. I get the dilemma. It would almost seem like a no win situation with no right solution... almost.

... There is always communicating infants at Baptism and Chrismation. Just saying is all. Then you don't have to worry with the blurred lines of "age of reason". It's the Body of Christ. Either you believe it or you don't. Do I need to fully understand the theology of the transubstantiation. No. I am called to believe. Hell, there are even adults well over the official "age of reason" who don't get that much.

I'm just saying... my seven year old son has gotten "it" for years now and it seems stupid for him to continue to wait to receive those graces associated with the sacrament.

Heck, to most of my family it's just another reason to get dressed up, eat cake and drink. I just may follow through with all my threats after all.


nazareth priest said...

My niece, at age three, reached out to the Sacred Host, as she was held in her mother's arms (my sister) and said, "JESUS".
That's enough for me; I didn't give her Holy Communion right then and there.
But, by the wondrous grace of God, I was able to give her First Holy Communion this last May, as she kneeled before the awesome Presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; I'm speechless.

Anonymous said...

Ha! The Sadlier series....faithfully taught at my son's Catholic school here in Southern California. I am an aide at that school, so I grade the religion tests. I know just what you mean!
When my son was four, he wanted to receive Holy Communion. He used to call Him " Jesus Prize", and when the priest would put a hand on his head to bless him as I received the Sacred Host, he thought he was checking to see how tall he had gotten, so sooner or later he would receive Him too!

Mary MacArthur said...

I don't know. I received at age 9, and I didn't get it at all. I thought it was as if Jesus cut His finger off and we ate it, not His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, not Himself. And it wasn't that I was badly catechized; I just didn't get it. I really regret that I was so ignorant and thus uncaring, so I think it depends on the circumstances and the kid.

Patm said...

The Sadlier Series is the worst tripe ever pushed upon unsuspecting and underqualified DRE's EVER. Awful, awful, awful catechesis.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

This whole "age of reason" business is lost on me. But then again I'm Orthodox. But don't the Eastern Rite Catholics do communion right away after baptism and chrismation? I think that if the argument for "age of reason" holds water it should be a universal discipline. Otherwise scrap it and follow the custom of the ancient Church and commune the faithful from their baptism until they reach the age of reason, and can tell right from wrong. Then they should cease communing until they start taking confession.


Angela M. said...

I think we should wait until we are 40 - less chance of profaning the Body and Blood. I know I didn't understand until I was 38.

Smiley said...

teach your son about Spiritual Communion. It is something most catholics do not know about and it is something worth knowing.

s-p said... if even an adult can "rationally understand the mystery of the Eucharist". If it is for the healing of soul and body, why not innoculate our infants with Him against the diseases of the world? That makes more sense to me, but then again, like John, I'm EO.

Mimi said...

It was one of the most amazing things to me as I converted to Orthodoxy, that children received as infants.

My youngest has communed since he was 5.5 months old.

Robert said...


I believe Canon Law states that the parents are the primary judges of when their children are ready to receive the sacraments.

Johnson said...

St. John Chrysostom said: "As a mother will not deny her children food until they understand what they eat, so too the Church will not deny the Spiritual Food of the Eucharist until a person understands."

newguy40 said...

My two cents worth...

Speaking for myself, I am a revert from about 2 years back after be gone a very long time.

I think it is extremely important for good, sound catechesis. I sat in on my parish RCIA last year and was disappointed at the lukewarm and almost protestant approach to Catholicism.

I think you are spot on on your assessment that parents are only interested in relgious education while their children are involved.
It's almost as if they are puncing a ticket or something. I have volunteered 3 times to help out at any level with adult and children religous education and never once got a call back or email response from the director(s). I said that I'd do what ever they needed including setting up and cleaning up. Assist or teach. Anything.

Owen said...

First Things receiving-communion-at-age-6

Elise said...

No one is qualified to teach the faith. We are all poor servants.

However, most people who volunteer to teach or teach the faith in a school setting have good intentions. (Yeah, the road to Hell and all that....) However, if only the MOST qualified volunteered, in most places, one person would teach EVERYTHING to all grades.

If you are concerned with the quality of catechesis at your parish, then volunteer. Put up or....well, you know.

3puddytats said...

Children should have formation for communion, just like adults in RCIA...

Just like adults of other faiths aren't supposed to receive Holy Communion--you are to be free of mortal sin. I liked that discussion on Fr Z's blog linking Confession and First Communion. For me beingin RCIA I had to go through the motions, attend the classes, go to first Confession, before I made my first Communion.

Just because a two year old babbles "Jesus" doesn't mean that he/she really understands the depth of what Communion is about. And if so you set the precedent...if you allow the two year old then you must allow the adult who comes forward and says "Jesus."

The adult will definitely have the much better understanding of what is going on than the two year old..


Suburbanbanshee said...

The Eastern method isn't wrong; but the Latin Rite method is perfectly fine also.

Why do people get so all or nothing about it? If some kids get their stockings filled on St. Nicholas' Day, and some on Christmas morning, what's the big deal?

As for this speech, the cardinal seems to mostly have been reminding pastors of the discretion they already possess in these matters.

The memory of my First Communion is precious to me. If God had placed me in the Byzantine Rite or some such, I'm sure Communion would still be precious to me, but in a different way. I am grateful for the graces I have received, docile to the teaching of the Church and the traditions of my native Rite, and baffled why other people are so crazy to Do Something. Push, push, push, and never just take what you're given... sheesh.

If you want to do something constructive about First Communion prep, you might look into how the sainted Martins prepared St. Therese for her First Communion. It's a lot more about prayer than booklearning, valued as booklearning was to them.

Pablo said...

"...Certainly not 2 years of complete and utter rubbish taught by unqualified, but well meaning, parents whose only interest in teaching faith formation extends to the fact their own children are involved..."

Dear Miss Crescat,

My Catholic Faith.

The old book, not the new version re-written. You can purchase it at SSPX Chapel Bookstores. You may use it to catechize your child, and get some refreshers while you are at it.

Traditional Catholic Churches (SSPX for example), teach catechism between Masses each Sunday during several months of the year. These classes are taught by Priests.
Children’s catechism class is taught on a pre-determined schedule on weekends, also by Priests.

If you go to my web site, you will find a Traditional Roman Catholic Catechism (audio) using the My Catholic Faith series as a guide.

It is provided free of charge, but please say a Hail Mary for the Padres.


Pennycake said...

'Not only was Little Nellie transformed after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion but in a sense the entire Church has been transformed after her. It is reported that Pope Pius X was considering lowering the age for children to receive Holy Communion from twelve to seven and when he heard of Little Nellie he said she was the sign he was waiting for. On 15th August 1910 Pope Pius X published his encyclical Quam Singulari encouraging early and frequent Holy Communion of children.'

Pennycake said...

" remove the danger that infants might eject the Consecrated Host, the custom obtained from the beginning of administering the Eucharist to them under the species of wine only.
...the age of discretion for Confession is the time when one can distinguish between right and wrong, that is, when one arrives at a certain use of reason, and so similarly, for Holy Communion is required the age when one can distinguish between the Bread of the Holy Eucharist and ordinary bread—again the age at which a child attains the use of reason.

The principal interpreters of the Lateran Council and contemporaries of that period had the same teaching concerning this Decree. The history of the Church reveals that a number of synods and episcopal decrees beginning with the twelfth century, shortly after the Lateran Council, admitted children of seven years of age to First Communion. There is moreover the word of St. Thomas Aquinas, who is an authority of the highest order, which reads: "When children begin to have some use of reason, so that they can conceive a devotion toward this Sacrament (the Eucharist), then this Sacrament can be given to them."6 Ledesma thus explains these words: "I say, in accord with common opinion, that the Eucharist is to be given to all who have the use of reason, and just as soon as they attain the use of reason, even though at the time the child may have only a confused notion of what he is doing." Vasquez comments on the same words of St. Thomas as follows: "When a child has once arrived at the use of reason he is immediately bound by the divine law from which not even the Church can dispense him."

The same is the teachings of St. Antoninus, who wrote: "But when a child is capable of doing wrong, that is of committing a mortal sin, then he is bound by the precept of Confession and consequently of Communion." The Council of Trent also forces us to the same conclusion when it declares: "Children who have not attained the use of reason are not by any necessity bound to Sacramental Communion of the Eucharist." It assigns as the only reason the fact that they cannot commit sin: "they cannot at that age lose the grace of the sons of God already acquired."

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Prior to the Medieval period (which Roman Catholics seem fixated on) the discipline of the Church was that all, including newly baptized infants were admitted to Communion. They would stop communing once attaining the age of reason until after they begin taking confession. This remains the discipline of the Christian East (including those bodies in communion with Rome). The modern practice of denying communion to children is a fairly novel innovation for which there appears little evidence prior to the 11-12th centuries.