Help me understand the Roman Catholic discipline on Communion

I’m wondering why the Roman Church has put an emphasis that only those cognizang of the Eucharist being Jesus Christ are the ones worthy to receive the Eucharist.

1st, we wait until children are in the age of reason before the are given First Communion.
2nd, we do allow for children who are in danger of death and under the age of reason to receive Communion. But put a requirement that the child must be able to distinguish the Eucharist from regular food.
3rd, Viaticum can only be given to a person who’s conscious.

So why is there such an emphasis? Of course the graces of the Eucharist can and will be received by the person even if they are not cognizant about it.

I’m just comparing this to Eastern traditions where babies are given Communion.

This might be semantics, but none of us are *worthy *to receive.

I believe the driving principle behinds these rules is to make sure that the body of Christ is known to be separate and special from regular food. Even then, the Church grants leeway to the communicant. Someone who may have a limited understanding because of a mental defect would still be allowed to receive, so long as there is some kind of understanding.

As for the Viaticum, that stands to reason because a non-conscious person cannot eat. If the Precious Body cannot be swallowed, then I would not think that someone would be allowed to receive it.

But the viaticum could be the Precious Blood. Or a very tiny piece of the Precious Body.

I also want to learn the underlying reason why such a discipline is in force in the West but not in the East, at least for infants.

The East is not in full union with the Holy Father as they do not recognize his authority over them, as is intended by JESUS when HE issued the keys to Peter. This is quite sad, and diminishes the East from one of the four signs instituted by JESUS to be used to know you are in HIS church that being “ONE”. The East stands outside the fullness of the sign of ONE, and as such has their own distinct differences.
I believe Roman Catholics have been advised that we can receive communion in an Eastern Church, if we cannot find a Roman Church.
However, until the ongoing dialog between the East and Holy See reach a blessed conclusion you will discover that they are not ONE with the Church, but have their own distinct differences.

Whoa, there are many Eastern churches that are in communion with the Holy Father. There are 23 churches, including the Latin Rite, in communion with the Holy Father. The Latin Rite is the one most are familiar with as it is the largest, but the others are just as much Catholic as the Latin Rite. They have different customs and practices and emphasis, but they are fully Catholic.

What you seem to be thinking of is the Eastern Orthodox Church. They are not Catholic and not in communion with the Holy Father.

Sorry this is not true. There are Eastern Catholic Churches that carry on the Eastern traditions but are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome.

Also, please read Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen, which completely disagrees with everything you have just said whether its regarding the Eastern Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches:

vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_02051995_orientale-lumen_en.html

Regarding the age question, it’s a matter of history that became “tradition” and many think that the original (and Eastern Catholic) practice should be restored.

Regarding consciousness, sacraments (as liturgy) are conscious participations.

This is not accurate. ALL Eastern Catholic Churches are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. That’s why they are Eastern “Catholic” Churches…if they were not in communion with the Bishop of Rome they would not be “Catholic.”

I think, perhaps, what you meant to say, in part, might be that e.g. there are “Eastern Churches” that are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome.

Part of what Julia noted is, I think (though it’s hard to know, I may misunderstand) correct, in that the Catholic Church’s rules on receiving communion are more “liberal” than the rules of the (Eastern) Orthodox Churches.

KarenE’s post is well worth reading (thanks!)

I wish to thank you for the link. I did print and read ORIENTALE LUMEN, and on page 15 Para 21 His Holiness does say “. . . the full union of the Catholic Eastern…Church of Rome, which has already been achieved…”. But replete throughout the document His Holiness also declares the presence of the need for unity.
Page 2 Para 3 “We have almost everything in common; and above all, we have in common the true longing for unity”.
Page 2 Para 4 “We cannot come before Christ, the Lord of history, as divided as we have unfortunately been in the course of the second millennium. These divisions must give way to rapprochement and harmony; the wounds on the path of Christian unity must be healed”
Page 12 Para 17 “Thirty years have passed since the Bishops . . meeting in council . . of many brothers from other churches… showing that all believers in Christ were far closer than they could imagine… An ever more pressing invitation to unity emerged at that point. . . . Since then, much ground has been covered in reciprocal knowledge . . .on a path of love that is already a pilgrimage of unity. Among the sins which require a greater commitment to repentance and coversion should certainly be counted those which have been detrimental to the unity willed by God for His People. . . .both sides are to blame. . .The sin of separation is very serious. . .”
Page 13 Para 18 "Every day I have a growing desire to go over the history of the Churches in order to write, at last, a history of our unity and thus return to the time when . . . Despite difficulties and differences, the letters of the Apostles. . .and of the Fathers. . show very close fraternal links between the Churches in full communion
Page 15 Para 20 “Today we are conscious . . .that unitywill be achieved how and when the Lord desires. . .”

So, the Holy Father uses full union and/or communion to express that the two churches teach the same faith, but he use the term unity to express that the two churches are still not ONE. And how can they be when you have Pope in the West and Patriarch in the East. That was my point. The keys given to Peter were not to be shared as they are between the East and the West.

You are confusing the Easter Rites of the Roman Catholic Church, with the various Orthodox Churches.

The Eastern Rites of the Roman Catholic Church follow many of the same liturgical practices as the orthodox do. The biggest difference is, they are in full union with the Church of Rome (also called the Latin Rite) and they acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope.

The Orthodox Churches do NOT recognize the supremacy of the Pope. They consider him to be “First among Equals”, believing that every Bishop has the same authority and the same leadership rights as any other Bishop. Therefore, the Bishop of Rome, while his opinions should be listened to, has no more authority than any other Bishop.

They also reject the wording of the Western version of the Nicean Creed, and many other liturgical practices and beliefs of the Roman Church. They do not accept the concept of infallibility of the Pope, as just one of many examples There are some very profound differences between those religions, and their Eastern Catholic Cousins.

The Eastern Catholics do accept the Latin Rite’s versions of various theological matters, and they do recognize that the Bishop of Rome has Supremacy over all other Bishops. They also accept the concept of the Infallibility of the Pope in Matters of Faith and Morals.

John Paul II did indeed call, repeatedly, for union among the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Latin Rite. However, he never attained this, and the two sides are just as far apart as ever.

The only good thing is that both sides have lifted the excommunications of the other.

There is no such thing as “Eastern Rites of the Roman Catholic Church”.

The Eastern Catholic Churches are sui juris Churches in their own right, they have their own hierarchy.

The Chruch is called the Catholic Church and is a communion of 23 Churches in union with the Pope, the largest of which is the Latin (or Roman) Catholic Church.

As mentioned, you are confusing Eastern Catholics with Eastern Orthodox. We are united with the Eastern Catholics. Not fully united with the Eastern Orthodox. We are working on full unity with the Orthodox Churches but already have full unity with the Eastern Catholics.

Patriarchs are not equivalents of the Pope. The Pope himself is the Patriarch of the Roman Church (although I think he stopped using that title). A Patriarch leads his sui juris Church. But the universal Church is led by the Pope.

Anyway, before my thread gets derailed any further, I still want to further understand why the Latin Church has set diciplines as such. I’m thinking it could be to combat a heresy, but I don’t have the facts for that so I’m just guessing.

I found your one and two in the Code of Canon Law but I could not find your number three. Can you tell me where that comes from?

Can. 922 Holy Viaticum for the sick is not to be delayed too long; those who have the care of souls are to be zealous and vigilant that the sick are nourished by Viaticum while fully conscious.

This does not prohibit giving it ot the unconscious.

Then why mention “while fully conscious”?

I think it needs to be read in context. The part you are talking about follows a semi-colon. What does it say before that?

“Holy Viaticum for the sick is not to be delayed too long”, I think this is an admonishment to the priest not to delay, to go asap.

I also think that it is pointing out that the most good can only come with the conscious participation of the sick individual.

I do not read any prohibition in this canon.

I see, I see

Thanks for helping explain that. Now how about the discipline on children?

You got me there, it is one I do not understand.

I think it has to do with the Wests scholasticism and its focus on reason.

Also its spliting up of the Sacraments of Initiation.

I hope to get more into this when I take my classes on the Sacraments in the future.

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