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Ralph wrote:

Hi, guys —

My grandchildren have all been baptized. The oldest has received his First Communion and the rest have not. My wife and myself are pretty upset and worried.

  • Can I teach them at home about Holy Communion and when I feel they are ready, can they receive Communion legally in the Church?
  • Also, what about Confirmation?

Please help us,

Ralph

  { Since their parents aren't doing it, can we teach them so they can receive Communion at Mass? }

Mike replied:

Dear Ralph,

Although I know this can be hard on a grandparent, the Church has always taught that the parents are the primary educators of their children. They also make vows to raise their children Catholic. This obviously includes ensuring they receive the sacraments of the Church.

To my knowledge, there is no way for you and your wife to educate your grandchildren on the Blessed Sacrament without:

  • the parent's permission, and
  • the Church's approval

before they could receive Holy Communion in Church at Sunday Mass. If one of you is a Godparent there is no reason why you couldn't teach them about the Eucharist, but the role of the Godparent is to support and aid the parent, not to be the parent.

Being a Godparent, myself, I find this very hard at times because I'll be disagreeing with what my brother or his wife will do, or not do, within the household. In trying to come across as the funny, humorous uncle, who happens to be religious, I hope to keep a good relationship with my niece and nephews. From my personal view, the religious freak in the family has to learn to chill out and learn what I did from Steve Wood ten years ago:

You can't transmit religious values without first establishing a good, solid relationship with your family members.

The Church's approval is critical in your situation because the Church has no way of knowing whether what you are teaching your grandchildren is correct [and/or] complete. The same would hold true for the other sacraments of the Church.

The important keys in situations like yours is to:

  • not to burn the bridge between relatives
  • have a good healthy relationship with your son or daughter and his/her spouse, and
  • pray for them on a regular basis.

This is what the Catechism tells us:

CCC 1653 Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life.

CCC 2220 For Christians a special gratitude is due to those from whom they have received the gift of faith, the grace of Baptism, and life in the Church. These may include parents, grandparents, other members of the family, pastors, catechists, and other teachers or friends.

"I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you." (2 Timothy 1:5)

I hope this helps,

Mike

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Mike,

Your answer was a good one.

If they do ask the parent's permission to help them receive First Communion that would probably mean bringing them to Mass every week as well.

Keep the issue on the burner but don't nag. How they do that is simply by giving invitations at every opportunity i.e.:

  • "Would you like to go to Mass this weekend?"
  • "There is a mission tonight at the Church, would you like to go?"

Also keep praying.

Finally,

  • Is it laziness or something else keeping the parents away?

Learn how to speak to them about real issues. For example, read a book like:

  • How to defend the faith (Without Raising Your Voice: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot Button Issues) by Austen Ivereigh.

Fr. Jonathan

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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