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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My New Book: Donna M. Eschenauer; First Communion Liturgies: Preparing First-Class First Celebrations

The chapters of the book are an attempt to “stir up” a deeper consciousness regarding how we prepare and celebrate First Communion. Many “out of place” practices or so-called “adaptations,” have taught over two generations that these “adaptations” are acceptable and these are what make the day a special event.

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