EMHCs, please respond

After posting this question as part of another thread, I thought it more appropriate to post it as a stand-alone thread. That said, EMHCs, please respond…

In our Eastern Catholic Churches children, infants actually, are admitted to the Holy Eucharist immediately after baptism (in fact, infants receive all three Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, within the same ceremony). From that point on, these infants/toddlers/children can, and do, receive the Eucharist routinely during the Divine Liturgy.

As an EMHC, how were you instructed to handle a parent with babe in arms who may approach to receive Our Lord for him/herself and for the youngster, given that this may, indeed, be an Eastern Catholic family visiting your parish, for whom reception of the Eucharist by a very young child is both fully accepted and encouraged by Rome?

As a former EMHC (I gave up that ministry, in large part because our pastor over-uses the EMHCs, apparently so that he doesn’t have to don a stole at masses where he’s present but not celebrating…), I was trained, when confronted with a child, to follow the lead of the parent escorting the child. Most parents with young children in tow make very sure that their kids don’t receive if that is not appropriate.

I might add that there is much to commend the Eastern Rite approach. In many Roman Rite parishes I’ve seen, “First Communion” has been turned into a thorough circus – kids on the altar, parents running around with cameras, thousands of dollars being spent on lavish parties for 9-year-olds, etc. In my opinion, it would be far better for parents and catechists to decide when children are ready, individually, to receive the Eucharist, and just allow them to do it – without all the “show.” Most parishes don’t make a circus out of first Penance (although I’ve heard some horror stories – including one parish where parents were reportedly allowed into the face-to-face confessional, so they could take pictures of their “little darling” making his first confession!). Perhaps it’s time to tone down the “First Communion” spectacle.

I have never heard of Rome approving of this. My understanding is that a child must be at the age of reason, and have made a first reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion in the Roman rite. I personally would respect the stipulations of the Church I was attending. I don’t receive in orthedox Church, if they ask that those not of their rite refrain from receiving, even though we are allowed by our rite to receive. I would hope they would respect our laws.

As an Emhc, I would not give an infant Holy Communion, but I don’t know if I would do or say anything if tthe parent broke the host and gave the child a piece. My response would certainly be different for a person of the western rite than a person of the eastern rite.

I believe the appropriateness of infant communion has been discussed elsewhere on this Forum, so I would hope any debate is continued there.

As for Eastern Catholic parents bringing infants/small children forward to receive, I would suggest some planning. If EC parents find themselves in a RC parish and wish their children to receive they should speak with the celebrant(s) prior to the Mass. If communing the child is an “issue” it is better that this come up privately, before the service, not in the queue during communion, and possibly putting an unprepared EMHC in a difficult position.

Hopefully the celebrant knows enough about the ‘other lung’ of the Church and agrees to commune the child. I have even heard of instances where the priest has used this rare occurence to teach his congregation about differing traditions within the Catholic Church.

Common courtesy asks that EMHCs, or even EMs, not be put into an awkward situation in the middle of a service.

Just my 0.02 of the local currency…

[quote=Orientale Lumen]Common courtesy asks that EMHCs, or even EMs, not be put into an awkward situation in the middle of a service.
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I agree, and think the best thing to do would simple to make sure you receive from the priest. If he looks at you quizzically, just tell him “we’re Eastern Rite.” and I would hope he’s educated well enough to let you and your children receive.

Although I am not an EMHC I’m going to respond. As a bi-ritual deacon (Latin & Melkite) I want to affirm that Rome has, indeed, ordered the Eastern Catholic Churches to return to their original practice and to discard any Latinizations that may have crept in. This includes the tradition of giving all three mysteries (sacraments) of initiation to infants. From that time on they are welcome to receive communion. In fact, Eastern Catholics cannot understand why the Latin Church baptizes infants and then effectively excommunicates them until they are seven!

There was an issue several years ago where a Latin priest refused to commuicate the children of an Eastern family who had moved into his parish and for whom no Eastern Church was available. The bishop was asked to intervene, and he told the pastor to give communion to the children.

The suggestion for an Eastern family to meet with the priest or deacon before Mass is a good one. They can explain why the child is to be communicated and that can be dealt with and cause no problems. Of course, some infants only receive a drop of the Precious Blood because they are not old enough to receive the Sacred Body – so again that should be noted.

Deacon Ed

[quote=Mysty101]I have never heard of Rome approving of this. My understanding is that a child must be at the age of reason, and have made a first reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion in the Roman rite. I personally would respect the stipulations of the Church I was attending. I don’t receive in orthedox Church, if they ask that those not of their rite refrain from receiving, even though we are allowed by our rite to receive. I would hope they would respect our laws.

As an Emhc, I would not give an infant Holy Communion, but I don’t know if I would do or say anything if tthe parent broke the host and gave the child a piece. My response would certainly be different for a person of the western rite than a person of the eastern rite.
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My God, are you serious? These kids are chrismated (confirmed) Catholics who already receive the Eucharist.

You comments sound like those of Protestants with regard to baptism.

[quote=Pariah Pirana]My God, are you serious? These kids are chrismated (confirmed) Catholics who already receive the Eucharist.

You comments sound like those of Protestants with regard to baptism.
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And your comments sound very judgemental.

Are you another one of those “Deep Catholics”???

Mysty101, Christ said to let the children come to Him. If an infant has already received the Eucharist with full approval of the Church, they have as much right as anyone (moreso, in fact, since they are not capable of sinning) to receive Holy Communion.

[quote=Deacon Ed]Of course, some infants only receive a drop of the Precious Blood because they are not old enough to receive the Sacred Body – so again that should be noted.
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It would be difficult to give an infant the Precious Blood if a spoon was not available (it being a Latin-rite Church).

[quote=Dr. Colossus]It would be difficult to give an infant the Precious Blood if a spoon was not available (it being a Latin-rite Church).
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The Melkites do not use a spoon for normal communion – so when an infant comes up we put a drop of the Precious Blood into their mouths using a finger.

Deacon Ed

[quote=Mysty101]I have never heard of Rome approving of this. My understanding is that a child must be at the age of reason, and have made a first reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion in the Roman rite. I personally would respect the stipulations of the Church I was attending. I don’t receive in orthedox Church, if they ask that those not of their rite refrain from receiving, even though we are allowed by our rite to receive. I would hope they would respect our laws.

As an Emhc, I would not give an infant Holy Communion, but I don’t know if I would do or say anything if tthe parent broke the host and gave the child a piece. My response would certainly be different for a person of the western rite than a person of the eastern rite.
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Mysty,

The Canon you refer to only applies to Latin Rite Catholics.

And under that same Canon Law, each member of the faithful has a right to the Sacraments, unless they are in Mortal or Manifest Sin or are prohibited by Canon Law.

The Canon Law of the East (which this family would be under) allows for the Communication of Infants, so the only possible exception would be for Mortal or Manifest Sin, which is impossible for an infant.

It is therefore the Communication of this child is the correct thing to do.

The parish where I grew up had a Byzantine Parish as in it’s boundries, so we had several Byzantine Catholics in our class. They went up for and recieved communion at our school Masses, while the rest of us patiently waited for second grade.

The same is true for my son. He is in first grade and has 2 Chaldean kids in his grade. They recieve communion at Mass.

The Melkites do not use a spoon for normal communion – so when an infant comes up we put a drop of the Precious Blood into their mouths using a finger.

Dear Father Eduard: Always you say something most interesting. How is different “normal” communion and not “normal” communion. I have always been told for Liturgy needed ten things on the Proskomedinik including the Kopije (little spear) and the Ljhitsa (little spoon). How are Melkites giving communion without Lzhitsa?? Just curious for I shall have to wait many years to go to Holy Land where Melkites communion without Ljhitsa. Very interesting.

I think that the practice of infant communion could be extremely difficult with azymes. The dry hard particle can be a challenge to the very small, especially since the body and blood are not together.

+T+
Michael

[quote=Volodymyr] I have always been told for Liturgy needed ten things on the Proskomedinik including the Kopije (little spear) and the Ljhitsa (little spoon). How are Melkites giving communion without Lzhitsa?? Just curious for I shall have to wait many years to go to Holy Land where Melkites communion without Ljhitsa. Very interesting.
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Sounds like you are confusing Byzantine-Melkites with a Slavic Byzantine Church (Ruthenian, Russian, etc.). Each Eastern Rite has its own norms and traditions. These are very Slavonic terms, so it is quite possible that the Melkites don’t use these implements.

That said, the Melkite parish I have visited always uses a spoon.

[quote=Mysty101]I have never heard of Rome approving of this. My understanding is that a child must be at the age of reason, and have made a first reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion in the Roman rite. I personally would respect the stipulations of the Church I was attending. I don’t receive in orthedox Church, if they ask that those not of their rite refrain from receiving, even though we are allowed by our rite to receive. I would hope they would respect our laws.

As an Emhc, I would not give an infant Holy Communion, but I don’t know if I would do or say anything if tthe parent broke the host and gave the child a piece. My response would certainly be different for a person of the western rite than a person of the eastern rite.
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Pope John Paul II commanded the Latin Rite to do everything within their power to help the Eastern Rites, including accommodating the traditions of Eastern Rite visitors to their parishes.

Also, it is my understanding that EMHC’s do not have the right to turn ANYONE away from receiving Communion. They are not a priest and are not in a position to make that judgment.

Oh, and the Eastern Rite is NOT Orthodox. We are Catholic. Roman Rite people are welcome to receive communion in our Churches, and we are welcome to receive communion in yours.

[quote=Volodymyr]The Melkites do not use a spoon for normal communion – so when an infant comes up we put a drop of the Precious Blood into their mouths using a finger.

Dear Father Eduard: Always you say something most interesting. How is different “normal” communion and not “normal” communion. I have always been told for Liturgy needed ten things on the Proskomedinik including the Kopije (little spear) and the Ljhitsa (little spoon). How are Melkites giving communion without Lzhitsa?? Just curious for I shall have to wait many years to go to Holy Land where Melkites communion without Ljhitsa. Very interesting.
[/quote]

I’m sorry for the delay in responding – I just now saw this question. Unlike the Ruthenians, Ukrainians, and Russians the Melkite church cuts the prophera into pieces which are then dipped into the chalice and then given to the communicant. This form of intinction is similar to that used in the Latin Church.

Deacon Ed

[quote=a pilgrim]After posting this question as part of another thread, I thought it more appropriate to post it as a stand-alone thread. That said, EMHCs, please respond…

In our Eastern Catholic Churches children, infants actually, are admitted to the Holy Eucharist immediately after baptism (in fact, infants receive all three Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, within the same ceremony). From that point on, these infants/toddlers/children can, and do, receive the Eucharist routinely during the Divine Liturgy.

As an EMHC, how were you instructed to handle a parent with babe in arms who may approach to receive Our Lord for him/herself and for the youngster, given that this may, indeed, be an Eastern Catholic family visiting your parish, for whom reception of the Eucharist by a very young child is both fully accepted and encouraged by Rome?
[/quote]

I was unaware of this Eastern practice until just this moment. After reading Dr. Col’s comments on Mt 19:13-14 I think it is a beautiful sentiment.

"Then the children were brought to him that he might lay his hands upon them and pray. The deciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Beautiful…

Well I have to say I have given Communion to an EC child mebbe about 4 ] in and RC parish - and without the consent of the Parish Priest either.

The family concerned had been in the pew in front of me and I had realise they were EC - so I did not hesitate.

I was castigated by some of my fellow EMHCs afterwards when I told the Parish Priest.

My comment was that we give a child physical food for it’s well being before it can make a decision whether to receive it or not. Therefore we should also give a child spiritual food . After that there was silence.

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