Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mid-life Lesson #27: The Eucharist is for babies, too

It is precisely within what some have called the ‘first stage of faith,’ that is, ages two to six, where children possess the greatest and most lasting responsiveness to images, rituals, and symbols. Given this, it should become increasingly clear as well that the denial of the Eucharist to the youngest of baptized children is nothing other than the denial of the primary way in which they actually can participate in the symbolic, ritual, and image-laden liturgical self-expression of the faith community.”[1]

Because liturgy is its own best catechesis, and the best way for anyone to learn about communion is to participate in communion.

[1] Maxwell Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation, 374-375.


  1. Especially when the one distributing the Eucharist is a parent. I started sharing Holy Communion with my daughter as soon as she started reaching out for it. She's been at church almost every Sunday of her 16-month life and she knows that the Eucharist is something special. She knew it was strange to see her daddy giving something to everyone but her. She'll continue to learn about Holy Communion for the rest of her life. Now, she just knows that she gets to do what everyone else at church is doing. She's a part of the gathering around the table of the Lord. Amen.

  2. Sheryl4:53 PM

    We reached a hybrid compromise in our congregation, where, despite my and my pastor's best reasoning and impassioned please, the council and faith formation committees refused to lower the communion age from 4th grade. For the younger ones now, the pastor or assisting minister gives them a piece of bread and says, "Remember your baptism" instead of "The Body of Christ, broken for you."

    But you are so right that the kids get it very young. When the assisting minister didn't give the little ones a piece of bread one day, there was much upset among the youngest ones. They knew they were being denied something everyone else was getting. It's like having a family meal and denying food to the youngest at the table. Actually, that's exactly what it is.

  3. Anonymous5:08 PM

    Saying. "Remember your baptism," instead of "the body of Christ, given for you," doesn't make what the children are getting any less Holy Communion. They are being communed. It is still the Body of Christ. You should point that out to your council and faith-formation committee so they can do the right thing and include the little ones on the up-and-up.

  4. My 4 year old son took SECONDS two weeks in a row b/c both pastor's distribute communion. One time he got wine, the other grape juice. I'm not sure if we encouraged/discouraged or just let happen his feasting on the meal. The wafers are now known as "Jeezitz"

  5. Not much shocks me anymore, but the comment of Bryan Jaster did.

  6. In baptism, we become a part of the body of Christ; in the eucharist, the body of Christ becomes a part of us. There is beauty in this symmetry in our sacraments, and it is one reason I believe infants should receive the Eucharist.