Anna Nussbaum Keating wrote an article, Why Can’t My Son Receive the Eucharist, for First Things. In it she briefly rehearses the history of the practice of the Sacrament, and questions why her two-year-old son can’t take the Eucharist until he is 7.
She raises a question I raised in my posts on Children and Communion, some of the first posts in this blog. Why do we, churches that require the one who receives the Eucharist, require the recipients to understand the sacrament of Communion, when we do not require the same of baptism?
Is infant communion so different from infant baptism? We already teach children who have previously been baptized what their baptism means, and yet, baptism is a gift freely given. It is not dependent on one’s intelligence or comprehension. Formal instruction occurs after the sacrament has been experienced.
She ends with the hope that maybe things are ripe for a change in the Roman Catholic Church, a going back to the earlier practice of infant communion:
Perhaps now is the time to rediscover the practice of infant communion. Pope Francis has said that the Eucharist is “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” He has also written in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel that, “The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. . . . Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason.”
It does seem a double standard, doesn’t it.
(Thanks to Michael Bird’s post on the blog Euangelion for posting on this article – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2014/04/communion-for-children/)