Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Sacraments before their time I was getting into an interesting exchange with a priest friend about the de facto excommunication of Catholic children after infant baptism. He correctly challenged me that excommunication as an ecclesiastical discipline, does not apply to young children, as there has been no sin or public penalty imposed on them, as defined by canon law. Agreed. But is the denial of Communion to children old enough to express a desire for Jesus a good idea? A child of three or four reared in a Christian home knows who Jesus is. Children attending Mass with their families know that Communion is where people receive Jesus. What more does a person need to know? Is approaching the Eucharist dependent on intellectual ability? And if so, how does that align with our understanding of God's grace? Twenty years ago when I was doing research papers on Orthodox-Catholic relations and the Orthodox approach to the sacraments, I became convinced that full initiation at infancy: baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist was an ideal way to go. Sadly, when Brittany was baptized, I did not push the issue strongly. The liturgical climate has changed too much. Plus my wife was unconvinced. Back to current Catholic practice. Did you know that Confirmation and Communion are encouraged for seriously ill children who would benefit from the grace of the sacrament? Does anyone reading know of an instance in which a Roman Rite child received Eucharist or was confirmed before the "proper" time? I would be interested to know, and also hear from priests who have been involved in such experiences. Or have sacraments become something solely earned by developmental biology and cognition? And not by grace as being a member of the Household of God

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