My 7 year old accidentally received the Eucharist

Yeah, that sounds really dumb, doesn’t it? Things were a bit chaotic at Mass this morning, we (7 year old, 4 year old and I) were pulled out of the pew unexpectedly so the 7 year old could light the advent candles while I read a prayer, instead of regular children’s liturgy there was a rehearsal for the children’s Christmas concert after Mass, and for some reason the older kids didn’t come back to the sanctuary for communion the way they usually do. And somehow in the midst of all that, my 7 year old (who is preparing for First Holy Communion in school, and has her first Reconciliation coming up in two weeks) managed to get in the communion line and received the Eucharist. I am still trying to figure out how that happened, I’m not getting any clear answers from her, all she says is:“I don’t know!”.
What should I do? Do I need to tell our parish priest, or the team that prepares the children for Holy Communion? How serious is this?

Not the first, not the last to have this happen. Not the end of the world.

Simply talk to your child. Since they are in FHC and First Confession prep, they know they are not supposed to receive. They are old enough to have know not to go up, or at least not to receive.

If all you are getting is “I don’t know” then maybe your child is not ready to receive FHC yet as they are not discerning the sacred nature of the species yet.

You can talk to your priest or FHC prep coordinator but I wouldn.t make a big deal out of it.

Thanks, ke! I made another attempt at talking to her, with the help of hubby this time, and I have more information. Best as we can piece it together, one of the Children’s Liturgy leaders asked her if she was going to receive communion. She misunderstood and thought they were talking about the First Holy Communion she’s been preparing for. Next thing she knew, she was in a small group that went into the sanctuary and up to the priest. At this point she realized that this was not the right thing to do, but she was afraid to speak up and didn’t know what to do. So she went ahead and received.
My oldest is highly (sometimes I think overly) sensitive and shy, which I have to admit, she gets from me. I would have done the same thing in her situation, I would have been scared to speak up as well. So I can understand how it happened. And we talked about it and I am certain this won’t happen again.
Thanks for putting my mind at ease, ke, I appreciate it!

She has just had her first communion. Tell your priest and the FHC coordinator - not because she did anything wrong, but so they know.

I would expect that she continue through classes but that there is also no particular reason why she needs to stop receiving between now and the official FHC Mass. Your priest will let you know what he recommends.

As an aside, work with her on appropriate ways to speak up with adults. For example, in this situation, she could have caught the teacher’s attention as soon as she realized. Or said something to the priest when she got up to him - like “No, not yet.” I know how hard that is - especially for shy or quiet kids. My oldest is the same. But it is a huge important lesson for them to learn!

She should have crossed her arms across her chest, as she has been doing. But “shoulda, woulda, coulda…didn’t!” :shrug: Please reassure her that she did nothing wrong and that this does not invalidate her First Communion because she was not prepared, so she did not receive the full grace of the sacrament. (She hasn’t had her first Penance yet.)

now I’m puzzled, she’s only 7 and she has been taught to respect adults, she did what most of us would have done at seven.
I know your church has taught you that 7 is the age of reason but science says that we are still learning to make wise decisions up to about age 24.
but i have a question for you now, do you believe that transubstanciation had already taken place and therefore she received the body of christ?

i’m impressed at the reactions of the child’s parents, they obviously really care about her and the spiritual journey they are guiding her on, sounds like an almost story book family to me and she is a fortunate daughter, in my opinion at least.

Seriously, it is not a big deal. It happened to me when I was 7. We were going to a Thanksgiving Day Mass, and the children had dressed up as pilgrims and Native Americans, so we were all sitting in the front 2 pews, meaning that my parents were all the way in the back. The Sunday school teachers seemed confused during communion, let us out to get it (since some of the children were eligible to receive communion, but that meant that I was being hustled into the line and I just went along with the flow to not cause a scene. I really did not understand why I could not take the Eucharist at the time, and the fact that the adults had hustled some of us into the line made me think that it was okay at that moment.
Point of the story: your child might have just been confused by the behavior of the supervising adults, and the adults themselves were having their own problems. Let your priest know so the adults who supervise who goes into line for communion will be careful. It was no one’s fault… just an act of carelessness.

That was funny:cool:

She is a baptized Catholic. She received the transubstantiated Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. It was her first communion.

Don’t think that communion only “counts” on a special Sunday when children have been through X number of classes.

Speak to your priest so he knows. Speak to the coordinators of the program so that they can be more careful in the future. It was no one’s fault, but it did happen. She should not be punished or made to feel that she did anything wrong though.

But she had not done her First Penance, so may not have received worthily. I would think that would mean that it was NOT her First Communion although she did receive…But she was not prepared to receive it that day.

So in your estimation, this little girl should now not get to participate in the ceremony that she has been preparing for? I’m confused. This was a mistake, and she has not finished her preparation.

It’s transubstantiation. And yes, of course she received the Body of Christ, but since SHE was not prepared fully, she does not receive the full grace of the sacrament. That is how I understand it. If I am wrong, I will concede, but since she had not had her first Confession/Penance, I don’t think this should be considered her First Eucharist. But the priest will decide, I suppose.

Of course it was her first Eucharist, as it was the first time she received Holy Communion. Certainly, under canon law, she should have had her first Confession prior to receiving the Eucharist, but having received cannot be undone. My children have received since they were baptized and christmated (confirmed), as infants. In our tradition, they have their first Confession around 7 or 8 (or earlier), but receive up until that point. It is a rare 7 year-old, if any, who would be in a state of mortal sin. Why would God not pour his grace upon this child?

As for receiving between now and the ceremony, I also think that should be a decision of the priest.

The grace of the sacrament does not depend on the celebration of reconciliation, especially if one has not committed mortal sins. I doubt very much a 7 year old would understand the whole concept of mortal sin…many adults don’t. When I first started teaching CDC years ago kids didn’t go to confession until 2 years after their First Communion.

Its not a big deal. I probably would have done the same thing at that age, as I was really shy as well. Sometimes children have a hard time speaking up and/or communicating their thoughts. I remember once, when I was younger, my teacher mistakenly thought I had done something wrong. Even though I hadn’t and could easily have told her what had actually taken place, I didn’t speak up when she scolded me. :shrug::blush:

Try not to make it a big issue because it might scare her and make her feel guilty (although it seems like you aren’t doing that anyways). I only say that because once, when I was 8 years old, I accidently dropped the Eucharist and my parents freaked out; I felt quite bad about it. I even confessed it, but the priest laughed and said it was no problem as it had been an accident and children drop things all the time.
Just let her know its ok to speak up in these situations. :slight_smile:

I think you should let your priest know as well and he will advise you if there are issues that will arise in relation to her first communion ceremony (I’m not well advised on these matters)

God Bless

The Eastern rites are completely different to the Roman or Latin rite. I admire how it is done in your rite, but that’s not the way we do it.


We don’t know if that little girl could be in mortal sin. I mean, it’s nice to assume she is not, but what if she were??

Correct, we are different in discipline and theology, but our sacraments are the same and the grace of God is the same. To not consider this her first Eucharist just doesn’t make sense to me. First Eucharist is not a sacrament in and of itself. It is simply the first time that the Eucharist is received. She received it. How can that be undone? To teach this little girl that this was not her First Communion might confuse her and undermine her understanding of the Eucharist. I am only making the point that the grace of God received in the sacraments is not contained by disciplines of the church, though the reception of the Sacraments is rightly regulated by the church.

As for the other, I seriously doubt that a 7 year old is in mortal sin. But, of course if she were to continue to receive Holy Communion now that she has already received her First Communion, she would need to go to confession before her class is scheduled to do so. As to the relevance of the Eastern practice in this situation: We also do not permit someone who in in a state of serious sin to receive Holy Communion, yet the progression toward a more mature understanding, and the obligations (such as confession) that go along with it, is gradual. Because of this, two of my children have asked to go to confession well before the age of reason. We don’t really worry that somebody has hit his 7th birthday and has not yet been to Confession, and we certainly don’t believe that he does not receive Grace when he receives Holy Communion. We just make sure that he is prepared and goes to confession sometime soon. Certainly, the disciplines of the Latin Church should have been followed in this case, but since they weren’t, this is one way of looking at it. The grace received was real and complete. What’s done is done and cannot be undone.

Of course she received the full grace of the Sacrament. She received the full Body and Blood of the Lord. This was her First Eucharist–the first time she received Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eastern Catholic Churches commune infants when they are baptized–they have not been to confession. They receive the full graces of the Sacrament. God does not withhold His graces because one is Western and one is Eastern. They are both Catholic. There is not much for the priest to decide. She received the Eucharist. Now it’s a matter if she is going to be allowed to continue receiving it, or if she has to wait and receive again with her class.

First Penance preceding First Communion has not always been practiced in the Church, although that is how it has been done historically and is the law now. IIRC, in the 70’s and early 80’s it often was not. This was the case with my own children at the time. Yet they legitimately received their First Communion before their First Confession.

Also, for a 7 year old to be in a state of mortal sin would be awfully difficult to achieve, since the matter has to be grave, they have to possess full knowledge that it is grave, and then commit the sin anyway. They need to have a full awareness of things. The Church recognizes that even though 7 is considered the age of reason (more or less, depending on the child), their reasoning ability and consciences are not fully formed, their ability to know the gravity of actions is not fully developed, their awareness of sin is not fully developed. Seven year olds are not small adults. They are 7-year old children, and are not judged by the same standard as fully grown adults. The Catechism covers this culpability for sin very well.

This happen with my oldest son, we were at a Mass in another city and he was behind me and the EMHC somehow thought he was old enough and he received communion. It was an accident by the EMHC and not intentional by any account. Just offer it up to God.

You must hang out with much rougher 7 year olds than the ones I know.


“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of first graders…The Shadow Knows!”

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