Dear Trying Hard:
Thank you for your kind words. I am new to this site. I am retired now and thought that coming here daily and picking a question or two to answer would be an interesting way to help people who have questions.
Your question, as I read it, was interesting in the way you phrased it. It was presented as a young mother might ask it if she came to me after Mass and spoke simply about her life. And so I answered you in the same tone. What I wrote is exactly what I would have said.
I am glad you found it helpful. I stand by the answer as I wrote it. If you were my parishioner, I would resolve the issue in your mind completely – I would dispense you from the obligation and eliminate any ambiguity you have. Having taught for years, I am most comfortable with the assessment that I gave you: the law itself excuses you from the obligation in the situation you describe.
In terms of your additional question: this is the definition in Canon Law:
*Can. 97 §1 A person who has completed the eighteenth year of age, has attained majority; below this age, a person is a minor.
§2 A minor who has not completed the seventh year of age is called an infant and is considered incapable of personal responsibility; on completion of the seventh year, however, the minor is presumed to have the use of reason. *
In this instance, however, one would need to interpret what the Catechism is saying according to the norms of reason and common sense. As babies mature differently, you as the mother would be best positioned to prudentially gauge when the needs and care of the baby are such that you do not need to avail yourself of the excuse from the obligation. Frankly, from what you write, it is apparent to me that you will err on the side of being observant rather than laxed. This is demonstrated by your “9/10 times” comment.
As to the commenters who attack the veracity of my priesthood: I find your statements insulting in the extreme.
I think, for example, of the many times over the years that I have been in an airport, on a flight, in transit – or visiting a museum or other public place or even on a sick call to a hospital or home for the aged – and had someone whom I did not know and had never met come to me, ask if I were a Catholic priest, and then ask me a question, present a problem, ask a blessing for themselves or an object of piety, or for some other exercise of my ministry.
Never once, in all those years, did someone say, my having answered the question, “I doubt you are a priest”…I presume because from my appearance and my words and my action, it was plausible to them that I am truly a priest.
HOWEVER, we are not even talking at that level in this instance. What was done here is the equivalent of my engaging with that person who came up to me at the airport and then for a fellow traveler seated nearby to say to the person speaking with me: “He may not be a real priest. Who knows? You should not listen to him. You should find a real priest or you should go to your own pastor rather than talk to him.”
Granted I am new to this forum and to this type of thing on the Internet but if such as what you have said in your posts were to happen to me in person, I would frankly look upon the one who did it as most certainly rude, perhaps mentally disturbed, and assuredly someone whose company is to be shunned.
I have given my answer to the situation as it was presented by the original poster. I have neither the time nor the interest to engage in some sort of debate with other people commenting, above all when their declarations are statements that are, most charitably, of dubious provenance.
I will add that I am thankful that certain commenters here were not in my classroom or my parish. May God’s blessing be upon the bishop(s) and priests who have the care of your souls, if you are toward them as was your comment regarding me.
I would, however, have been delighted to have you in my parish, Trying Hard. I assure you of my prayers for you and your family.
PS to Trying Hard: The Catechism of the Catholic Church was promulgated by Pope Saint John Paul II with an apostolic constitution addressed to all the People of God. He did that consciously and deliberately as various people were, even then and in the months leading up to its publication, saying this was not a resource the “ordinary lay people in the parish” should be possessing, reading, and interpreting. For the Pope, it was something everyone should have and read.
These are his words in the apostolic constitution Fidei Depositum: "I ask all the Church’s Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life. This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms. It is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation.
I do not know you nor do I know the other people posting here. From what I have read in the comments, Trying Hard, I have more confidence in your ability to understand the text as plainly written rather than the interpretations and opinions others are attempting to advance as authoritative. God’s blessing be upon you in your journey of life and in your vocation as wife and mother.