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Helen wrote:

Hi, guys —

Over the last few months I have attended the Journey of Faith at our local church and this week attended the Mass for the very first time.

I am very concerned because my daughter, who is only 6 years old, received the Eucharist by accident. We are not Catholic and I told her to put her hands across her chest but she got confused and by the time I was aware of it, it was too late.

I am very upset and explained to my daughter what she had done was wrong. This was a mistake and the rest of the family did not receive the Eucharist. I am very worried what this means and hope this did not offend anyone, as I still want to be welcome at the church.

  • Can you please provide some advise?


  { Should I worry that my daughter, who is not Catholic, received Holy Communion by accident? }

Mike replied:

Dear Helen,

Thanks for the question.

First, I want to applaud you for being willing to attend the Mass for the first time.
I wish other non-Catholics would consider doing this.

That said, you are correct. Because Protestants and Catholics don't have a Common Union in the faith, instructing your child to go up putting her hands across her chest was correct.

When priests sees this, they know the recipient is not disposed to receive Holy Communion but nevertheless, receives a blessing from the priest. Seeing that we believe the priest acts in the person of Jesus, it is really Jesus blessing your child! You gotta love that!

In a private e-mail I asked Fr. Jonathan:

If by accident the non-Catholic ends up a Communion line where an Extraordinary Minister was distributing Communion and they saw the recipient with their arms cross, what are they instructed to do?

I'm guessing, the same as a priest — bless them. The only difference would be the recipient is being blessed by a priest and his ministerial priesthood while the Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist is using their universal priesthood that they received at Baptism.



Fr. Jonathan replied::

What happens in most Churches:

  1. the priest recognizes this and imparts a blessing
  2. in some Churches the lay Eucharistic minister would just say "God bless you" as almost a greeting
  3. in some Churches the lay Eucharistic minister blesses them using the Blessed Sacrament; i.e. with the Eucharist in their hands they make the Sign of the Cross.

What I feel is incorrect is lay Eucharistic ministers or even Deacons blessing as if they were a priest. This is what I know, but I am not a liturgist and do not speak with authority like you find I do with Canon law questions.

Fr. Jonathan

As to the accident you mentioned — I wouldn't worry about it.

Even though non-Catholics can't receive Holy Communion or any of the other sacraments, any and every non-Catholic is welcome to any Sunday Mass.

I've heard some say they just enjoy the presence of being there in the pew.

You will always be welcomed!

I hope this helps,


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