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A modest proposal for Eucharistic Revival: Holy Communion by intinction

There are good historical, theological, practical, and ecumenical reasons for the reception under both species by means of intinction.

(Image: Annie Theby/

With the onset of the Corona virus, many dioceses enacted certain “preventive” measures, among which was eliminating reception of Holy Communion from the chalice. That proscription is now being lifted in many dioceses. In keeping with the call of the episcopal conference for a “Eucharistic revival,” I would like to offer a “modest proposal,” namely, reception under both species by means of intinction.

What is “intinction”? It is the procedure by which the priest or deacon dips the Sacred Host into the chalice and places It directly onto the tongue of the communicant.

Some priests (and laity) of a more “conservative” stripe argue that the Council of Trent forbade Communion under both forms to the laity; however, that was not the case. From the thirteenth session of the Council, held in October 1551, we find the following canon:

Canon iii. If any one shall deny, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema.

In other words, the Council condemned the proposition of some of the Protestant Reformers that Communion under both species was required for a valid reception of the Sacrament. Nor could the Council have condemned the practice since all the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church have communicated the faithful in that manner from time immemorial.

Thus, the Council Fathers of Vatican II, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, could say:

The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact, communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism. (n. 55)

With the passage of time, that opening from Vatican II has been expanded, so as to make possible Communion under both kinds on virtually any occasion. However, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal issues this caveat:

Sacred pastors should take care to ensure that the faithful who participate in the rite or are present at it are as fully aware as possible of the Catholic teaching on the form of Holy Communion as set forth by the Ecumenical Council of Trent. Above all, they should instruct the Christian faithful that the Catholic faith teaches that Christ, whole and entire, and the true Sacrament, is received even under only one species, and consequently that as far as the effects are concerned, those who receive under only one species are not deprived of any of the grace that is necessary for salvation. (n. 282)

The General Instruction also indicates the various ways the faithful could receive under both forms:

The Blood of the Lord may be received either by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon. (n. 245)

Reception from a tube or spoon might cause some surprise. However, a visit to a museum like The Cloisters in New York City will reveal that both of those instruments were rather widely used throughout the Middle Ages!

The 2002 document of the United States bishops, Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America, encourages reception by intinction:

In practice, the need to avoid obscuring the role of the priest and the deacon as the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion by an excessive use of extraordinary ministers might in some circumstances constitute a reason either for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species or for using intinction instead of distributing the Precious Blood from the chalice. (n. 24)

In many ways, that statement is but an echo of the 1970 document of the Holy See on this topic, Sacramentali Communione, where we read in paragraph 6:

. . . the preference should be for the rite of Communion under both kinds by intinction: it is more likely to obviate the practical difficulties and to ensure the reverence due the Sacrament more effectively. Intinction makes access to Communion under both kinds easier and safer for the faithful of all ages and conditions; at the same time it preserves the truth present in the more complete sign.

What are some of the practical aspects of this procedure? If the paten is deep enough to contain a sufficient number of consecrated Hosts, the priest or deacon can hold the chalice in his left hand, grasping the paten in the unengaged fingers of the same hand, dipping the tip of the Host into the chalice with his right hand, and placing It onto the extended tongue of the recipient. Intinction sets, which greatly facilitate the process, are also readily available from most church supply outlets, like Almy or Autom. It is also envisioned that a minor minister of the Mass can hold the chalice for the priest.

I have distributed Holy Communion in this manner since my very first Mass as a priest, even doing so as a guest celebrant, with lay folk afterwards always commenting favorably. This mode of Communion distribution is completely at the discretion of the individual priest-celebrant (unless Cardinal Roche tries to arrogate yet more power to himself).

What are the advantages to this procedure?

• As the 1970 document points out, intinction “preserves the truth present in the more complete sign.”

• It unites the Roman/Latin Rite of the Church with the other 22 rites, all of which communicate the faithful by intinction.

• There is likewise an ecumenical dimension, that is, all the Orthodox Churches employ intinction. Which is to say that it would put the Roman Church in visible unity with every Church with valid Orders and thus a valid Eucharist.

• There is no danger of spillage.1

• There is no need for recourse to extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (of course, some people would consider this a liability).

Now, to be clear: This mode of administering Holy Communion never permits self-intinction, and thus does not allow for reception in the hand.

I think that most reasonable people would be convinced by the advantages of this “modest proposal,” and so consider it worthy of promotion for our national “Eucharistic Revival.” However, given the “sacred cows” it obviates, I wouldn’t hold my breath for its inclusion in any list of proposals.


1In this regard, it is worth considering this anecdotal commentary on the post-Catholic ministry of Martin Luther, recorded in a 2008 work of R. Stahl, cited by Bishop Athanasius Schneider in his 2014 Corpus Christi :

A woman wanted to receive the Lord’s Supper. As she came up to kneel down in front of the chair before the altar and drink, she approached in a brusque manner and hit the chalice of the Lord with her mouth quite hard and so some drops of the Blood of Christ were shed on her clothing and on the backrest of the chair on which she was kneeling. When the Reverend Doctor Luther noticed this, he and the Reverend Doctor Bugenhagen suddenly stood up and together with the officiating minister they cleaned the drops of Blood from the woman’s clothing and licked up as many drops from the chair as they could. Doctor Martin was moved so deeply by such an irreverence that he sighed and because of what had happened and said these words: O God, help us. And his eyes were full of tears.

Worth noting here not only is the danger of direct reception from the chalice but also that Luther was still ministering Holy Communion with the laity kneeling. Further, still his deep devotion to the Eucharist.

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About Peter M.J. Stravinskas 283 Articles
Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas founded The Catholic Answer in 1987 and The Catholic Response in 2004, as well as the Priestly Society of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, a clerical association of the faithful, committed to Catholic education, liturgical renewal and the new evangelization. Father Stravinskas is also the President of the Catholic Education Foundation, an organization, which serves as a resource for heightening the Catholic identity of Catholic schools.


  1. Intinction will be used as a pretext for a full return to Holy Communion under both species.

    The same is true for women “deacons” i.e. it is simply a pretext for ordaining women to the presbyterate.

    Same goes for “blessing” homosexual relationships. It is a pretext for eventually recognizing homosexual “marriages.”

    Bergoglio did the same for allowing a divorced and remarried Catholic woman in SA to receive Holy Communion. It is used as a pretext for eventually allowing divorce and remarriage in the Catholic Church.

    We ought to rename our Catholic Church the “Church of the Slippery Slope.”

    • Right!

      Diner: I’ll have the turkey dinner.
      Waiter: Certainly. That dinner includes our special chef-inspired cornbread-infused and mushroom gravy.
      Diner: Groovy! I love gravy.
      Waiter: Would you like the gravy on your turkey and potatoes?
      Diner: No! I’d like both, but separate, please, and thank you.
      Waiter: Sure, but just so you know that will cost more due to the multiplication of dishes and requisite added ablution. More work for staff, too.

  2. I was blessed to receive by intinction both for my first Holy Communion and at my marriage. Very rarely did I receive both separately. I never understood why intinction was so rare. It should be much more common, especially at such important events.

    • Placing on the tongue exposes the priest or minister to increased infections. Some people do not do this correctly and sputum is exchanged. DEFINITELY not a good idea..

      • I attend the Traditional Latin Mass where the faithful do not communicate under both species. And never ever has any priest at the TLM touched any part of my mouth or tongue. That’s because the priests are trained–the host is dropped onto the tongue, not pressed onto it. This is way better than at the Novus Ordo where the host is placed in the hand with possible small particles involved.
        Since the host contains the Body Blood Soul & Divinity of Our Lord, we don’t need to drink or instinct from the chalice.

    • “Too many of us can’t take full Communion because of the current way.”

      Communion under one kind *is* full Communion.

        • Flesh contains blood. The mechanism for nourishing flesh is: ‘DRUMROLL’ Blood. Blood is within flesh. Also, as blood passes through flesh, cells of flesh and toxins from within flesh inhere or are carried along with blood cells. Blood and flesh are biologically inter-related in a fascinating and incredible process designed by GOD.

    • Your use of the term “full communion” would appear to belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the theology of the Real Presence.

  3. Cons: 1) This massive, fussy, time-consuming set of changes is unnecessary since the existing reception of the Host in the hand is equally holy to anything created here. 2) An obsessive worry about “crumbs” is based solely on superstition, not scripture nor tradition, and reflects a basic mistrust of God, i.e the belief that God would instill a practice for us that is somehow designed to be ridiculously complex or to otherwise “trip us up.” 3) Reception in the hand directly echoes the distribution of the Host by Christ Himself to the pre-Pentacost apostles, whose hands then were just as impure/unclean as anyone’s now. 4) Giving in to this obsessive set of random demands would only lead to the manufacture of even more extreme, unnatural “requirements.” The need by some people to endlessly attack the beautiful, sustaining, holy Ordinary Form of the Mass and its direct recreation of the Distribution by Christ Himself is born of psychology, politics and in some cases even personal egotism, and not anything to do with God or his gifts to us.

    • An obsessive worry about “crumbs” is based solely on superstition, not scripture nor tradition, and reflects a basic mistrust of God,(sic)

      When did the paten begin to be used and why, Kell?

    • Thank you and God bless you! “While I was holding the host in my hand, I felt such power of love ….I heard these words ‘I desired to rest in your hands, not only in your heart.” Jesus to Saint Faustina, diary, notebook 1, 160). The Lord looks at the heart! Some people want to proof themselves holy by condemning others of offending God while they are obedient to the Church and to Christ.

  4. Fr. Stravinskas, the footnote does not say when in the timeline of Luther’s life or career, the event described, took place. It would be helpful to know.

    Also I think with Luther some pertinent riders always should be added explaining the related departures that actually came about that he endorsed.

  5. The holding of the Chalice and a large paten with one hand and actively engaging the right hand to retrieve, dip, and distribute hosts with the other hand is ergonomically difficult and potentially impossible for average and/or aged ministers! Self intiinction has been prevalent in Canadian Dioceses since Vatican II! Now with the necessity for having gluten free hosts available, the reception of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the King of Kings has become increasingly diminished!

  6. Couldn’t agree more re intinction. When I ministered at a very active Grotto in the 90’s we offered Eucharist under both species and in both norms – intinction or from the chalice for years. More people chose to receive by intinction than those who chose to drink from the chalice. The ministering went extremely smooth and reverent.

  7. That was a long and, may I say, clumsy way of getting to what I think your path is to Eucharistic revival: communion on the tongue and no more extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. I may agree with you on that as a matter of logistics, but let’s not be delusional that it will achieve a “revival” whatever that is. Let’s be honest. More broadly, this “revival” thing is about politics. Folks on the left see revival as achieving the elusive and cherry-picking seamless garment and inclusiveness, while the folks on the right want it to achieve “coherence,” so that pro-abortion politicians are forbidden communion. This is all about politics and has little to do with the Eucharist itself. And then there are those who see it as an opportunity to hitch their wagon for changing how communion is distributed. The end result, pardon my cynicism, will be a stand-off at best, but more than likely a Cupich/McElroy/Tobin win. Let’s stop the games.

    • There is no such thing as ‘pro-abortion’. There is pro choice and there is anti choice regarding women’s reproductive health care.

      • Not true.
        “Our fear is that if an unqualified sonographer misdiagnoses a heart defect, an organ defect, spina bifida or an encephalopathic defect that becomes a very local issue because our school budget will have to absorb the cost of a child in special education, supplying lots and lots of special services to children, who were born with the defect,” Hugo told the city council.
        Sounds pretty pro-abortion to me.

  8. Sorry. I don’t agree. It is simply unnecessary to have both species and I dont understand the obsession about it. Its bad enough to figure out the problem with crumbs of the host on dirty hands, on pew tops and kneelers. Now we want to have the precious blood dripping too? Or using spoons or TUBES to access it??? Like sampling a drink at a bar?? Imagine a 10 year old attempting this? Lets just stop the nonsense. How this will lead to any sort of Eucharistic revival is beyond me. I had a chance to talk to a person recently who, like me, is a daily communicant. They had NO IDEA there was a Eucharistic revival going on, likely because NOBODY has addressed the issue directly to the congregation from the pulpit. People dont learn by magic or osmosis. Its time for our priests to speak up before the opportunity is lost. At least for the year of St. Joseph we had a picture of St. Joseph on our altar for a year as a reminder. Skip the gospel explanation and spend a few homilies delving into the mystery of the Eucharist and why it is so important.Tie it in with the need for confession and maybe we will see a turn-around there too. The clergy’s apparent lack of willingness to step beyond the minimum effort on this is both puzzling and disturbing to me.

    • Agree with you completely LJ. As long as Catholics believe that obsessing about crumbs falling on the ground is superstitious, Eucharistic revivals will bear no good fruit.

      • Mark, I would not suggest that concern about the “crumbs” arises out of superstition. It arises from a concern about disrespect. Unless of course you are a Protestant for whom “communion” is simply a symbol. Catholics believe Jesus is really present in consecrated hosts. Every crumb is as important as an entire host. Therefore, what happens to them and how they are handled IS of concern. For me, having multiple hands dipping into a bowl for a host and then into the chalice is totally unnecessary in any way, and apt to lead to abuse and disrespect..

    • LJ-
      Don’t knock the use of spoons to receive. All of our Eastern Catholic and Orthodox brethren receive the Eucharist on a spoon, and as they give all the sacraments of initiation as infants, not only can 10 year olds manage it respectfully, even 3 year olds can do it. There’s a little bit of a learning curve for people who come to that method of reception later in life but I assure you it’s not difficult and it is nothing like sampling drinks at a bar.

      • Thanks, I’ll skip it. In the Catholic church 3 year olds are thankfully not permitted Communion ( they can hardly control a container of cheerios) and I am surprised children that small are permitted to do so in the Eastern rite since they are below the age of reason. Many 3 year olds do not have fine motor control yet either and I foresee a germ-laden messy result. Yes, I believe that detracts from the respect given the Eucharist. Receiving under both species is redundant. To each their own but I would not like to see this circus at one of our Masses.And I have never believed that 30 people sipping from the same cup is sanitary.

        • LJ, Eastern Catholics receive all their initiation sacraments at birth, ie. baptism (immediately followed by confirmation), then a drop of the Precious Blood on their tongue at Communion. They are allowed to receive Communion until they reach the age of reason, then refrain until making their first Confession. It is usually administered by the priest fron a spoon that drops it in their mouth as they lean back. It never touches their lips. And it’s beautiful to see it and know that so many youngsters are receiving so much grace from the sacraments. The Roman Church’s delaying of Sacraments is heartbreaking after witnessing the Eastern Rite practices.

          • “They are allowed to receive Communion until they reach the age of reason, then refrain until making their first Confession.”

            I’ve been in a Byzantine Catholic parish for nearly 25 years (and am familiar with a number of other Eastern Catholic and Orthodox parishes) and have never heard this or seen it practiced. And it makes no sense. When a child is old enough to recognize their sins and go to confession, they go to confession. Am I missing something or misunderstanding you?

          • They are allowed to receive Communion until they reach the age of reason, then refrain until making their first Confession.”

            I echo Carl Olsen’s comments. We’ve attended a Byz Church for 20 years, and have not seen this practice. I am not saying it doesn’t happen somewhere, but I don’t think a person can make that kind of generalization.

          • Carl and MrsHess: I didn’t explain it clearly. Carl, you are correct. When I said “refrain,” I meant it in the context of “recognizing” their sins, and then going to confession prior to receiving the Eucharist.

      • My Greek Orthodox grandson was initiated ay 6 months old: baptism, communion, confirmation. The body and blood of Christ is together in a chalice and with a little silver spoon given on the tongue, a most holy sacred “soup”. I have experienced it myself, my grandson even when little had understanding/believing of holy teachings, while I had to struggle with my catholic grandchildren to grasp holy truths. The body and blood in the chalice of course has to be consumed by the priest to the last drop. My son in law told me that his father, and orthodox priest, has eaten all the body and blood left after every mass with the same spoon and never did he catch any sickness after he had fed the people of God. Just thought it might be interesting in this discussion.

        • Are you suggesting that mystically your Greek Orthodox grandchild understood what was happening and your Catholic grandchildren did not? Excuse me but thats a little hard to imagine. There is a reason Catholic children do not receive until about the age of 7. Thats the age of reason. Personally I think the age could be higher. I dont think any respect is given Jesus by having children with no understanding being allowed to receive. A baby cannot even respond “Amen” , which is a validation of belief in the real presence. As far as becoming ill from receiving from the chalice, you must surely have noted that was all stopped during the covid pandemic. If it was so safe, why do you imagine that happened? Clearly, contagion was the concern. We have not yet returned to a group reception from the chalice in my church. Personally, I don’t miss it.

          • “There is a reason Catholic children do not receive until about the age of 7. Thats the age of reason.”

            Are people fully human, then, prior to the rather mythical “age of reason”? Should they even be given physical food prior to being able to say “Please” and “Thank you”?

            From an Eastern perspective, this is, frankly, nonsensical. If a newborn child can enter into divine life and be filled with God’s grace through baptism, can she not also be fed the food that feeds that divine life–the most Holy Eucharist?

            “A baby cannot even respond “Amen” , which is a validation of belief in the real presence.”

            It is this sort of thinking that resulted in forms of Protestantism that reject infant baptism, precisely because once you accept the false premise–you must demonstrate “reason,” be able to “believe”, talk in full sentences, go to the bathroom alone (yes, I’m being sarcastic now)–the rest indeed follows logically.

            The newborn child (again) who is baptized at, say, eight days of age, does not “know” what is happening, cannot say “please” or “I believe” or “Amen”. So, again, why do Catholics bother baptizing infants?

            Having now been in a Byzantine parish for nearly a quarter century (all three of our children were baptized, chrismated, and received Holy Communion as babies/toddlers), I often find the Western practice puzzling or worse. Yes, I know the history and reasons. But I’m convinced that there are flaws that lead to a misunderstanding, or a skewed vision, of what the sacramental life really is.

          • Two things. Communicants in the Latin Church did not respond Amen for at least 1300 years. Pius X lowered the communion age in the Latin Church to the “age of reason.” That was a radical move for the time.

    • ” I dont understand the obsession about it.”

      I do. “How dare you say that I’m not just as important or special or exactly the same as a priest? And I’m an *adult!* I refuse b
      to be fed like a little child!”

    • I am sorry you are not in a parish that is involved in communicating about the Eucharistic Revival. In mine, we have been preparing for the last two years; before each Mass, we recite a special prayer. At our monthly Praise and Glory, we have had a 3-part series on the Eucharist. Contact your local diocese or parish. Maybe your inquiry will begin communication. The national event is scheduled for July 17-21, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana and information can be found online.

  9. Raised as an Episcopalian, I was familiar with intinction from childhood. What mattered to me was the truth of transubstantiation provided by the Catholic Church that I learned in a Catholic academy. Finally, as a Catholic at 21, and believing all contained in the above article, means was not prominent for me. But some years later, my most graced communion by interior devotion was a Melkite communion by intinction in the small rectory of a priest friend on a regular Saturday morning when a drop of the Precious Blood landed directly on my lip. Simply a gift, but I remember my gratitude and faith to this very minute. The Melkite eucharist uses raised bread cut into small pieces, each one dipped into the Precious Blood and then placed in the mouth a bit more completely than just on the tongue. Takes a bit of learning both to give and to receive. Very safe.
    If there is anything thoroughly useless, it is even having to play any service when we can know by our Catholic doctrine that our Lord is not eucharistically present. Doctrine and faith and valid clergy trump means, and we should thank the Lord fervently for all valid means.

  10. It seems like an endless defiance of the Second Vatican Council and the new ordinary form of the mass. “While the liturgical reforms promulgated by the Second Vatican Council, and its desire for a return to a NOBLE SIMPLICITY impoverished the signs (and symbols)” (Symbols of Catholicism). The desire of the return of NOBLE SIMPLICITY of the holy mass was stirred up by ecumenism, the aspiration and yearning for Christian unity and evangelization to the ends of the earth even to the least of the dwelling of humankind. “Hence the universal Church is to be a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (St. Irenaeus) For some Catholics to remain in the TLM if it lifts their hearts to Christ is commendable; yet, it becomes a calamity if the TLM is pronounced the only holy rite and the Holy Church around the world is celebrating the holy ordinary new mass and ever growing in new members around the world. Holy Church allows communion by tongue and by hand and the frenzy of announcing offense to God is erroneous. May we all excel in love of Christ and in charity to one another and strive to be a holy people of God. In my home parish growing up intinction was practiced on holy feast days only.

    • “It seems like an endless defiance of the Second Vatican Council and the new ordinary form of the mass [sic].”

      Notice that the documents of the Second Vatican Council say that Comminion under both kinds *may* be administered “in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.”

      In other words, on very special occasions, not as a matter of routine.

      And the documents do not say that Communion in the hand is permitted or recommended. In fact, it was introduced as an act of disobedience and as an abuse, and permission given after the fact. Which is probably what has encouraged other acts of disobedience, even on matters of morality. “I’ll just go ahead and do X because I know that sooner or later I’ll be told it’s okay after all.”

  11. With due respect to the Council of Trent, I am all for this proposal. The combination chalice and paten facilitates this. I am disappointed that it is not at all common in the Latin rite.

  12. Wasn’t Jonathan Swift’s initial “Modest Proposal “ something to do with saving the national budget by allowing for the eating of orphans? ((I haven’t read any Swift myself, not even Gulliver, but I somehow remember this… maybe Spark Notes in high school?). Anyway. What a funny reference to throw out in an article referencing the Eucharist. I mean that as a compliment. Catholicism calls for such radical imagination and faith… Saving our spiritual budget by allowing for the gobbling up of the Prince of Peace. If this was an intentional, sly reference— I stan. If not, I’m a fan anyway.

  13. Communion by intinction is the norm in the Ordinariate Masses, and it has worked beautifully for many years. But this has been the norm, and therefore no “sacred cow” issues to overcome.

  14. Well Carl, I was a little taken aback at your prickly response to my March 30th post. The first I have ever had in my experience here. As a Byzantine surely you know the differences in practice between the two denominations and the reasons for those. Baptism and Communion are two entirely different sacraments and thus are not both approached the same way. This is true of all sacraments. You cannot marry two toddlers together, can you? Some sacraments require more knowledge and informed consent.A baby can be baptized because their soul is at stake. This was especially true in the early days of the church when high infant mortality rates prevailed. Even today, children DO die unexpectedly. To have a beloved baby die without baptism is a tragedy for any believer parent. And has nothing at all to do with food. I would say Baptism is more urgent for an infant to receive than communion. Hence it is done early. Roman Catholics have believed that Communion requires both education and preparation ( and the sacrament of penance, which ALSO requires preparation and understanding) and a knowledge of what you are saying “Amen” to when you receive. In brief, different sacraments require different levels of preparation and understanding. Its not a one size fits all thing. At least, not for us. As you might have guessed, I myself have no control over denominational differences between Byzantine and Roman practices.Clearly you are unhappy with them. I have seen many a child spit out things placed in their mouths. I would be horrified to see that happen with a communion host or wine. Thus, I am not unhappy on my side of the fence. I dont agree with your perspective but I appreciate your taking the time to explain and express it. Have a nice day.

    • It’s so sad that most of you don’t read or understand the Word of God.Jesus came to save the sick and sinners.Our FATHER GOD is judge of all.We are to be walking like Jesus as best as we can.No one has ever sinned in our life time. Don’t be so religious that you can’t Love. Jesus is TRUTH please read His Words daily.

      • “It’s so sad that most of you don’t read or understand the Word of God.”

        You have no evidence of that. What you mean is, “You don’t agree with my interpretation of the Word of God, so that means you don’t read or understand it.

        “No one has ever sinned in our life time.”

        Huh? That makes no sense.

    • LJ,
      RCC Canon law:

      Can. 913 §1. The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

      §2. The Most Holy Eucharist, however, can be administered to children in danger of death if they can distinguish the body of Christ from ordinary food and receive communion reverently.

      Can. 914 It is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible. It is for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion.

      As far as the mystical understanding of an orthodox child versus a Catholic child, I did note that the orthodox child’s grandfather is a priest, so that suffices as explanation.

    • I was pointed, but I don’t think I was prickly. Anyhow, your response here apparently only doubles down on the misunderstanding. A few points:

      (1) There are no “denominations” in the Catholic Church. There are several different rites. The Byzantine/Greek rite is just as Catholic as the Roman rite.

      (2) Yes, I do know the reasons given in the West for waiting until the “age of reason”. It’s important to recognize that those reasons are pastoral/prudential in nature, not doctrinal.

      (3) Further, the Eastern practice of infant baptism, Communion, and Chrismation has been consistent since the time of the early Church. But the Western practice has varied, with appeal to the “age of reason” not coming into use until the 13th century. According to the late Fr. Robert Taft, SJ, widely considered one of the preeminent liturgical scholars in recent memory:

      The practice [of communing infants] began to be called into question in the 12th century not because of any argument about the need to have attained the “age of reason” (aetus discretionis) to communicate. Rather, the fear of profanation of the Host if the child could not swallow it led to giving the Precious Blood only. And then the forbidding of the chalice to the laity in the West led automatically to the disappearance of infant Communion, too. This was not the result of any pastoral or theological reasoning. When the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) ordered yearly confession and Communion for those who have reached the “age of reason” (annos discretionis), it was not affirming this age as a requirement for reception of the Eucharist.

      “Nevertheless, the notion eventually took hold that Communion could not be received until the age of reason, even though infant Communion in the Latin rite continued in some parts of the West until the 16th century. Though the Fathers of Trent (Session XXI,4) denied the necessity of infant Communion, they refused to agree with those who said it was useless and inefficacious — realizing undoubtedly that the exact same arguments used against infant Communion could also be used against infant baptism, because for over ten centuries in the West, the same theology was used to justify both! For the Byzantine rite, on December 23, 1534, Paul III explicitly confirmed the Italo-Albanian custom of administering Communion to infants….So the plain facts of history show that for 1200 years the universal practice of the entire Church of East and West was to communicate infants. Hence, to advance doctrinal arguments against infant Communion is to assert that the sacramental teaching and practice of the Roman Church was in error for 1200 years. Infant Communion was not only permitted in the Roman Church, at one time the supreme magisterium taught that it was necessary for salvation. In the Latin Church the practice was not suppressed by any doctrinal or pastoral decision, but simply died out. Only later, in the 13th century, was the ‘age of reason’ theory advanced to support the innovation of baptizing infants without also giving them Communion. So the “age of reason” requirement for Communion is a medieval Western pastoral innovation, not a doctrinal argument. And the true ancient tradition of the whole Catholic Church is to give Communion to infants. Present Latin usage is a medieval innovation.

      (4) And that’s not even getting to the fact that it wasn’t until 1910 that the Roman rite changed the order of the sacraments of initiations, making matters even more confusing and theologically incoherent.

      (5) “Baptism and Communion are two entirely different sacraments and thus are not both approached the same way.” That is incorrect. As noted, they are, along with Confirmation, the sacraments of initiation. Here is the Catechism:

      The sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life. “The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.” (CCC 1212; quoting Paul VI, 1971)

      Note the language re: life and note the order. And, further: “Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the ‘sacraments of Christian initiation,’ whose unity must be safeguarded.” (CCC 1285)

      (6) “This is true of all sacraments. You cannot marry two toddlers together, can you?”

      Now we are into the realm of form and matter. Just as we feed babies in the natural realm, we do NOT have toddlers get married in the natural realm, precisely because marriage/matrimony is oriented to procreation, and thus must involve a man and woman (not a toddler girl and toddler boy). Likewise, only a man can be ordained a priest; a toddler boy or a grown woman cannot be ordained a priest.

      (7) “Some sacraments require more knowledge and informed consent.” Yes: matrimony and the ordained priesthood, the two sacraments at the service of communion. (It’s worth noting there that the sacrament of confession cannot be administered to someone in a coma, whereas the sacrament of the anointing of the sick can be.)

      (8) “Its not a one size fits all thing.” And, yet, you originally stated, “There is a reason Catholic children do not receive until about the age of 7.” That’s a very “one size fits all” sort of statement, is it not?

      (9) “I have seen many a child spit out things placed in their mouths.” And I’ve witnessed grown adults mishandle the host and even drop it (yes, rare–but not unheard of). That is why, by the way, that there is cloth held under the mouths of those receiving Holy Communion in the Eastern Churches.

      (10) “Clearly you are unhappy with them.” No, I’m unhappy that most Roman rite Catholics are not only mostly oblivious to Eastern Catholic practices and history, they assume a stance of superiority, making appeals to “reasons” and characteristics (“motor skills”) that are, frankly, quite absurd.

      Now I’m being prickly. But, still, I hope this helps in some way.

  15. Late response to your comment Carl, but you are right on, man!
    Also, I think that it should be noted to LJ that you don’t say “Amen” after receiving the Eucharist in the Byzantine Rite; at least the Ruthenians don’t since the priest says all the necessary words as he’s giving you the sacred Species!

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