Kimberly Belcher received her Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies at Notre Dame in 2009. After teaching at St John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, she returned to Notre Dame as a faculty member in 2013. Her research interests include sacramental theology (historical and contemporary), trinitarian theology, and ritual studies. Her interest in the church tradition is challenged, deepened, and inspired by her three children.

History of infant communion, part 2: Medieval and modern periods (500-2015 AD)

In the early middle ages, infants received the blood of Christ from the chalice, while older children and adults received communion under both species. In the later middle ages, lay Christians received very infrequently and never from the chalice, which meant that infants could no longer be communed at their baptism. When lay communion was encouraged in the late 19th and early 20th century, first communion was moved from age 12 to age 7 by Pope Pius X. His arguments about the importance of communion for young children are still moving, and can be applied to children even younger than seven.

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History of infant communion, part 1: Early church (30-500 AD)

Christians initiated infants by at least the late 2nd century (180s), and until the late Middle Ages (after 1000, but probably more like 1200), all newly baptized Christians were communed, regardless of age. Infant communion was lost because lay communion was lost, but when lay communion was restored in the 19th and 20th centuries, infant communion was not restored with it. In this first post, I’ll be focusing on the evidence for infant communion and the early church context.

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Baptismal anniversaries and sacramental reflection, an interlude

Celebrating baptismal anniversaries puts each child’s baptism on the calendar, and that’s central, I think. It provides a structure for periodically returning to the font. Sacramental reflection lets children, in a way befitting their development and personality, find their baptism meaningful as a foundation for who they are – and it could do the same for infant confirmation and communion.

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The system is down: systematic problems with the faith formation of children in American Catholicism

The structure of our catechetical ministry (more than the catechists – this is not a case of individuals making mistakes) assumes that Catholic parishes, not Catholic parents, are responsible for bringing up children in the faith. Yet, you know, it was my husband and I, not the parish catechists, that promised to do exactly that?

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Teaching the Bible with liturgy

This semester I was teaching the first theology to two wonderful seminars at Notre Dame. We went bumpety-bump-bump through an incomplete but helpful set of tools for reading scripture critically, and managed a rough-and-ready historical overview that allowed them to at least place texts on a timeline and have a sense of what was happening at the same time. I wanted to transition to thinking about how these texts-with-a-history could support theological ways of thinking so that we could see that process in the New Testament’s use of Hebrew Scriptures. At the same time, it was the week before the mid-semester, and almost all my students were in their first semester of college and drooping.

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