Infant Communion

What’s your thoughts on it?

I understand the theology behind it and I think it would be wonderful if the Latin Church reintroduced this ancient practice.

I would like to hear others opinions for and against infant reception of Holy Eucharist Being adopted once again in the Western Church (as this is common in the East).

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Unless it would be to confer a drop of the Precious Blood upon the tongue of the infant at the time of their baptism (or, God forbid, if the baby were in extremis), it’s not a practice I’m particularly crazy about, even in the Eastern Church.

If I’m not mistaken, among Eastern Christians, while they administer the Sacred Species to infants, there is a “First Solemn Holy Communion” at a certain age, akin to the First Communion of Latin Catholics.

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I love the practice and feel it is a strong tool to use in how important and what the Eucharist is.

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I’m hardly qualified, but I like the idea. I wouldn’t have any qualms or dissatisfaction if I saw it return.

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In the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, we’ve returned to the practice of Baptism/Chrismation/First Eucharist for infants.

My siblings and I received only Baptism & Chrismation when we were babies. Then we had First Confession & First Holy Communion.

In a way, an infant receiving their First Holy Communion immediately after Baptism & Chrismation not only preserves the tradition of receiving all 3 Mysteries (Sacraments) at once but there is also no obstacle to the infant worthily receiving Our Lord. His or her soul is immaculate, being freed from original sin in Baptism and strengthened with Chrismation.

It’s been 40+ years since my First Communion and I remember my First Confession too. I wanted my soul to be absolutely pure when I received Our Lord, which would have been the case if I had my first Holy Communion the same day I was baptized & chrismated.

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At the EC parishes that I’ve recently attended (Melkite, Ruthenian), it is a drop of the Precious Blood for infants/toddlers, but they commune every Sunday, not only at their baptism.

The thinking behind communion for infants is that seeing that it is a mystery to us as adults, infants and small children only have a little less understanding of what it is that they are receiving (on an intellectual level) than we as adults have.
Also it is believed that all who are baptized into the Church understand on a spiritual level what, or rather who it is that they are receiving whether they are infants or adults.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently seeing that my eldest daughter is at the age where normally she would be preparing for her first communion, but she is autistic and preparing her for her first communion at this stage of her life is problematic, and looking at the Eastern tradition of infant communion seems to solve the problem, before it’s a problem.
Never mind her level of comprehension, a great worry of mine is weather she would even receive if presented with the Holy Eucharist, or the possibility of, God forbid, her spitting it out.
It can sometimes be hard to get her to eat things that she likes on a regular basis, let alone something she’s never had. Had she been receiving communion since infancy, it would be completely normal to her and wouldn’t really present this dilemma.

BTW how beautiful is this clip!

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My Greek Orthodox friend told me her boys got very silly around ages two or three and would clap their hands over their mouth when the priest approached them with the blessed sacrament and giggle.

My friend was a convert from UU who decided to join her husbands church, so she wasn’t too religious…

I hadn’t really considered the flip side, I suppose there are another set of issues that communing infants could present.
I guess the question is, would the benefits outweigh the potential issues?

I’m sorry I’m unfamiliar with the abbreviation UU, could you educate me?

Unitarian Universalist

Out of curiosity, you mentioned that she wasn’t very religious, did you mean wasn’t as in when she was UU?
Or that she isn’t after converting to Greek Orthodox?
Hopefully after her conversion into EO she has found her home.

That must have been during Paschaltide because the Prychasten is “Receive the Body of Christ, drink the fountain of immortality.”

However, the formula for giving Communion was slightly different, ending with “…for the sanctification of soul and body and for life everlasting.”

I wonder why they do it that way. Maybe @ReaderT can help.

I love the idea of the Latin Church reintroducing this practice.

I don’t know anything about the history of why there might be objections to it (or if not ‘objections’, reasons why the Latin Church currently doesn’t practice it), but I imagine eventually someone might share that in this thread? As for myself though, I’m with the others who have responded so far.

I’d be very happy if we brought our infants fully into sacramental life according to what’s possible at each stage. Reconciliation isn’t necessary until the age of reason, but Communion seems possible and so I’d be absolutely delighted for this gift to be given to more children.

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You know I’m not sure about that clip, I had seen it online a little while ago and just got all warm inside when I seen that newborn receive Our Lord, it was beautiful.
However at the Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Church I have been attending the priest says:

Servant of God (my name) receives the Body and Blood of Christ for the sanctification of soul and body and for life everlasting”.

When receiving Holy Communion.

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I actually read about this recently:

Fr. Robert Taft, S.J
(who was on the faculty of the Pontifical Oriental Institute)
explains about the history of infant Communion in the Western Church in an article entitled “Liturgy in the Life of the Church” :

The practice [of communing infants] began to be called into question in the 12th century not because of any argument about the need to have attained the “age of reason” (aetus discretionis) to communicate. Rather, the fear of profanation of the Host if the child could not swallow it led to giving the Precious Blood only. And then the forbidding of the chalice to the laity in the West led automatically to the disappearance of infant Communion, too. This was not the result of any pastoral or theological reasoning. When the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) ordered yearly confession and Communion for those who have reached the “age of reason” (annos discretionis), it was not affirming this age as a requirement for reception of the Eucharist.

Nevertheless, the notion eventually took hold that Communion could not be received until the age of reason, even though infant Communion in the Latin rite continued in some parts of the West until the 16th century. Though the Fathers of Trent (Session XXI,4) denied the necessity of infant Communion, they refused to agree with those who said it was useless and inefficacious — realizing undoubtedly that the exact same arguments used against infant Communion could also be used against infant baptism, because for over ten centuries in the West, the same theology was used to justify both! For the Byzantine rite, on December 23, 1534, Paul III explicitly confirmed the Italo-Albanian custom of administering Communion to infants…. So the plain facts of history show that for 1200 years the universal practice of the entire Church of East and West was to communicate infants. Hence, to advance doctrinal arguments against infant Communion is to assert that the sacramental teaching and practice of the Roman Church was in error for 1200 years. Infant Communion was not only permitted in the Roman Church, at one time the supreme magisterium taught that it was necessary for salvation. In the Latin Church the practice was not suppressed by any doctrinal or pastoral decision, but simply died out. Only later, in the 13th century, was the ‘age of reason’ theory advanced to support the innovation of baptizing infants without also giving them Communion. So the “age of reason” requirement for Communion is a medieval Western pastoral innovation, not a doctrinal argument. And the true ancient tradition of the whole Catholic Church is to give Communion to infants. Present Latin usage is a medieval innovation.

As we can see from the above there isn’t no good reason not to allow for infant communion within Latin Catholicism, it just isn’t happening now or rather, yet

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Thank you for the quotation.

For +Fr. Taft: Vichnaya pamyat.

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Blessed Repose and Eternal Memory!

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This is a latinization and it is discouraged, if not forbidden, in most Byzantine churches.

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I think you are talking about two different things. I believe you are referring to the words of the Priest when he distributes communion, whereas the words referred to by Margaret_Ann usually are sung by the quire during the communion of the faithful, at least in the slavonic Orthodox tradition. A different hymn is sung when the clergy communes.

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The concept of a first solemn communion is at least not present in the Orthodox tradition. The children are, on the contrary, encouraged to receive the gifts before anyone else, for they are the first in the Kingdom of God.

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I like the idea. Though it is important to remember that while historically this was practice of Roman Church, historically there also existed people who would not get baptized until they were adults despite being Christians for years- it was done out of humility. Church in her wisdom realized that Sacramental life is necessary and therefore this practice faded away…

Latin Church used Sacraments to sort of renew life of Christian in every period of his Earthly life. Baptism for infants, Eucharist for kids, Confirmation for teens, Marriage/Priesthood for adults and Anointing of the Sick for elderly. It was powerful cultural stuff because even those introduced to faith as tradition more than religion had so many chances to convert during Sacramental preparation.

Nowadays though I don’t see that point. During my preparation for First Communion I actually gained faith. Fast forward couple of weeks and everything was back to normal. I am glad I learned things back then which helped me years later but kids seldom start and continue with taking faith seriously thanks to some course if parental support isn’t there. Confirmation is a whole different story because teens are a whole different story. In the end one could let infants commune and have First Confession sort of thing where they get catechized and have Confession to same effect of renewing their Sacramental life- and I’d move it to being a bit younger.

So there are two points of view- first is that we need to pour grace on children who would leave faith while we can. Second is that children from certain age might be prone to misunderstanding faith and Eucharist which is pretty dangerous. I honestly can’t decide myself.

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