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Helen K. Hollis wrote:

Greetings!

I am a recent convert to the Roman Catholic Church, a mother, and wife. I converted to the Roman Catholic Church for two main reasons.

I had been researching Orthodox Christianity for about a year prior to dating my husband. Once things became serious between us and we were discussing marriage, I took to heart that he had been a Catholic all his life. I had not converted to Orthodoxy at that point, but since I am a firm believer, thought that if God would bless us with a child in our marriage, it would be best for our child to be raised by parents who share the same faith.

I also reasoned that the two faiths were as close as any others could be — in all the important ways. I soon came to love the Catholic faith and no longer felt that I chose it as a close second.
I tried so hard to get involved in my parish community though faith matters have been painful and cutting at times.

I had a traumatic experience my first year, a miscarriage on my birthday. I was so blessed to have a priest who opened up the chapel (no longer used for Sunday Mass, only weekday mornings) to allow me to spend time with Our Lady in order to ask for her comfort and love. I know she has helped me many times since my conversion, but that was the time I needed her the most.

God blessed us with a beautiful healthy little girl fourteen months after that. I couldn't help but feel that her Baptism was both the happiest and saddest day of my life. I kept wondering if I had done the right thing by her, when I realized she was not able to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus that day.

Orthodox Christians do it all at once. I do not want to question the Church teaching on this, as it has been explained to me, but it really hurt me. A baby has to be as close, as anyone will ever be, in their life to purity and perfection. They can't possibly be any less worthy than anyone else, and more than likely, they are most qualified in pureness of heart.

I feel like I am committing a sin for thinking this way, and I do not mean to — I just don't understand this.

  • Can you please explain this to me so I can be at peace?

I have asked Our Lady to help me, and I know that somehow this is a misunderstanding on my part.

Maybe I'm too impatient.

Please advise,

Helen

  { Why can't my new baby be baptized and receive the Eucharist like Orthodox Christians do? }

Eric replied:

Dear Helen,

Well, I guess the only true solution to this would be to start going to an Eastern Catholic Church, where they communicate to infants.

If you can't do that, I recommend not feeling guilty about thinking this way. I see nothing wrong with wanting your infant to be communicated to, as long as you don't make a stink about it by openly condemning the Church's existing practice.

I don't know what has been explained to you, but traditionally in the Latin Rite, children under the age of reason are not communicated to, because they cannot understand what they are receiving and its significance. It becomes, in a sense, profane, because they can't distinguish the Eucharist from ordinary food. Since they cannot make this distinction, they cannot afford it the appropriate reverence, and so the Church does not communicate to them until they can truly appreciate, with awe, what it is they receive.

Nevertheless, an equally valid way of looking at it is that the Holy Mysteries communicate life, to infant and adult equally. The infant needn't understand the Mysteries to benefit from them, and perhaps they should be allowed to benefit from them. Perhaps with careful catechesis, the child can gradually come to appreciate and reverence the Eucharist to the degree that [he|she] is able.

Don't let this be a stumbling block to you. Your desire to give the medicine of immortality to your infant is a good and wholesome one, but not one that can be fulfilled at your present church.

If you are not content to know that your desire is good, find an Eastern Catholic church — some will communicate to infants. May I recommend a Melkite church? All should, but not all have, gotten with the program.

I hope you find peace in this matter.

Eric Ewanco

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