22 April 2010

A guest post: why not communicate babies at baptism?

A guest post from a former student, Jason Surmiller:

There has been a lot of talk recently about retracting the indult that allows Catholics to receive in the hand. This I believe is a good idea and if it ever happened it would re-enforce the fact that we are being fed as if we were babes in the woods. This brings me to the point that I would like to explore, why not when we baptize our babies, also commune and confirm them. There is no real good theological reason to stagger them out like we do now.

I would submit that babies like adults have no real conception of the Real Presence and how the sacrament works; it is beyond our ability to comprehend. The sacrament is a mystery to us. We may grasp at its meaning but like taking communion in the hand, we reach for something that is beyond us. So if we give ignorant adults access why not babies. Additional in their state of innocence they are far better prepared to receive than an adult is on most Sunday’s.

Don’t we want the best for our babies that best being the Lord in the Eucharist? We would be feeding them the Bread of Life. Like the old adage says, we are what we eat. Remember by doing this we would be returning to an ancient custom, which is retained by the Greek Catholics in Union with Rome . Would the first communion gift industry go kaput? Yes it would. Would Sunday Schools suddenly be left with no students? Probably not but if kids were only showing up to get the magic cookie (which I do not think is necessarily the case, one has to remember parents like to go to IHOP in peace on Sunday) then what are we offering at Sunday School that parents think the end goal is just communion or confirmation preparation .

Babies receiving the Eucharist would remind us that nothing we have done merits our reception of the Sacrament but the Grace of God. Just because we are a certain age does not make us worthy. Just because we can recite the Our Father and Hail Mary does not make us prepared.

Since babies after baptism are closer to a state of original justice then an adult why not receive like a baby. But if a baptized baby does not receive then we do not have to imitate this most pure of God’s creation. Just to mention Confirmation, why do we put this off, are we trying to create a Catholic bar mitzvah. Why not give the new bundle of joy that Grace of God also. It would seem we would be well served to Baptize, Commune and Confirm our babies. They need all the help they can get as they live in this world. We give all three sacraments to converts and a lot of the converts go through RCIA programs that give less than an orthodox understanding of the Sacraments. Why not babies? 

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  1. Good idea. Good reasons. Let's do it!

  2. I believe that this is the practice among the Orthodox Church.

  3. I attend a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic parish and they give Holy Communion to little children from baptism on up. It is really quite a beautiful custom, and exposes children the grace of the Eucharist from infancy.

  4. Anonymous1:47 AM

    Who cares?