Family claims discrimination because child was denied first communion

It happened in Texas, and the child has cerebral palsy.

Details:

A disabled boy was refused his first Holy Communion after a priest decided the child could not understand what it meant, his family have claimed.

Eight-year-old Kevin Castro’s family have accused Father Phil Henning, priest at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Floresville, Texas, of ‘discrimination’ after he refused to carry out the ritual.

Instead Father Henning offered to give the the boy the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

Irma Castro, Kevin’s grandmother, said: ‘That is the anointing they give you before death. That was very offensive.’

She claims the priest said her grandson, who suffers from cerebral palsy and has a mental age of six months, did not qualify for the Catholic initiation ‘because he was not able to understand the meaning of receiving the body of Christ.’

First Communion – the colloquial name for a child’s first reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist – is an important religious milestone for children raised in Catholic families.

Catholic doctrine says that a child receiving Holy Communion must have ‘sufficient knowledge’ of Christ, but it doesn’t specify what level of knowledge is considered sufficient.

Read the rest.

This is tough call, and fairly subjective, but clearly it was the priest’s to make.  It’s also evident the grandmother involved doesn’t understand what the anointing of the sick is really about, and that it is no longer given only to those who are near death.

Meantime, a reader over at Facebook pointed me to these sacramental guidelines:

“It is important to note…that the criterion for reception of Holy Communion is the same for persons with developmental disabilities and mental disabilities as for all persons, namely that the person to be able to distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food, even if this recognition is evidenced through manner, gesture or reverential silence rather than verbally” (Guidelines for the Celebration of Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities 20).

If a child or adult with significant cognitive limitations is unable to understand that the consecrated host is not ordinary bread, it is permissible for them to receive the Eucharist in order to support the faith of the family.  One can presume that it is God’s desire to be in communion with this individual. (Guidelines for the Celebration of Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities 20).

  • diakonos09

    We know that Catholics of the Eastern Churches give Holy Communion to infants at their Baptism/Chrismation as the normal time for “First Communion”. If a Western (Roman) Catholic infant is dying, does s/he receive Eucharist along with Baptism and Confirmation when these are administered in hospital? I do not know that answer. But it seems to me that this child could receive legitimately receive Eucharist since so much of canon law or liturgical law is under “usual and ordinary” circumstances which this is not.

  • Deacon Norb

    This happens far more often than one might think. It happened to a grand-daughter of mine. This young lady is now 21 and living in a “group-home” but at the appointed time, she was turned down for First Communion by her family’s pastor. I understood the decision, tried to explain it to my son and daughter-in-law as best I could, but my daughter-in-law (a convert through RCIA) took it very hard. Mom actually “stopped-out” for a while. (BTW: a “Drop-Out” is a permanent loss; a “Stop-Out” is a temporary one).

  • RomCath

    It is clear from the guidleines that the child could have received to “support the faith of the family”. However, we wonder what the “faith of the family” is if the grandmother still looks at the Anointing of the Sick as Extreme Unction.
    The priest made a judgment call. We need to give him a break. It most certainly was NOT discrimination.
    Perhaps after a little family catechesis he will be able to give the child Communion.

  • http://quantumtheology.blogspot.com Michelle

    My understanding is that anointing of the sick is not given to children before the age of reason (e.g. infants), either, so I’m not sure why that was offered as an option.

    We called it the other way in my parish in very similar circumstances – and the look on the child’s face suggested at some level she understood, and it was certainly a potent moment of grace for all of us.

  • http://quantumtheology.blogspot.com Michelle

    Another thought, would we stop giving communion to someone clearly suffering from dementia?

  • Dev Thakur

    I don’t want to prejudge this family, but I wonder what they gained from going to the press like this (if they did indeed do that).

    Reminds me of the story of a girl with celiac who couldn’t receive the Host, so the family became Methodist. The possibility of receiving the Precious Blood or low-gluten Host aside, what kind of person would leave over being denied the Eucharist and then go to a Church that has no Eucharist! It shows the the family only cared about appearances, or the feelings associated with receiving something/anything along with others, but no one leaves for the Methodists out of a sense of love for our Eucharistic God.

    I hope this family stays, works things out, and I pray that this child can, maybe at a later time, properly receive Holy Communion after a special effort at catechesis aimed to his needs and limitations.

  • Dev Thakur

    Michelle: a priest should stop giving to someone with dementia if they really had no idea what was going on or didn’t know it was the Eucharist.

    But if they were even severely demented but showed they understood (by putting out their tongue or hands appropriately, or saying Amen, or however else) then they could keep receiving.

  • http://decentfilms.com/ SDG

    According to the Catechism (1514) and canon law (can. 1004-1007), anointing of the sick is reserved for those who have begun “to be in danger [of death] due to sickness or old age” (“of death” is explicit in the CCC and implicit in canon law).

    Since cerebral palsy is not directly life-threatening, it is unlikely that the boy had begun to be in danger of death due to illness, which would seem to mean that it was incorrect for the priest to administer anointing of the sick.

    Also, canon law provides that the recipient must “have reached the use of reason.” (The sacrament may also be administered if there is doubt whether the recipient has reached the age of reason.) If the boy was deemed ineligible for communion on the grounds that he had a mental age of six months, then it would seem that he would equally be ineligible for anointing of the sick.

  • Adrienne Krock

    I’m afraid that if we asked most Catholics at Mass on Sunday about the Real Presence of the Eucharist, many would “fail” this “test” – special needs or otherwise. I have a not-Catholic friend who married a Catholic and agreed to raise their children as Catholic – until their local priest denied their Special Needs daughter First Communion. (Her cognitive abilities are higher than the child in this story.)

    1- Who is to say that these children have a lower than average understanding of the Eucharist? As the referenced guidelines read “that the person to be able to distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food” How many of us (and those in our parishes) truly have the capacity to understand the Mystery of our faith?

    2- Where is the line at which we “cut off our noses to spite our faces”? What this pastor may have missed was an opportunity to evangelize to this family and his community. He could have greeted their request with an offer to catechize the family – Perhaps an opportunity that could have included the opportunity to better educate them not just about the Eucharist but the other Sacraments as well?

    As a Baptism catechist in my parish, our team evangelizes through a spirit of hospitality and welcoming. In my personal experience and in speaking with families in our parish, so many other parishes set up roadblocks to sacraments. When our parish requires the basic Canon Law requirements, classes that are relevant (including all the necessary information but also evangelizing – warm and inviting them to participate in the parish community,) we find families coming to stay, even when they thought they were “just” coming to have their child baptized.

    I’m not suggesting that we lower standards – but what do they say about catching flies? You get more with honey.

  • Kate

    How would a priest who pops into a nursing home ward once or twice a year–if that often–know if someone with dementia really had no idea what was going on? My mother seemed to most staff who interacted with her to have no idea what was going on. But she did.

  • David

    The second paragraph quoted from the Archdiocese of Baltimore does not seem to have any grounding in the text of the guidelines. The paragraph given in the citation makes no such claim at all.

  • pagansister

    It seems to me that the Eastern Orthodox Catholic churches have the right idea—-giving the infants communion at their Baptisms. (as mentioned in post #1). This way they are truly part of the Holy community. If the RCC did this, this child would have been able to receive Eucharist.

    Guess this is just one of many discrepancies between the churches.

  • cathyf

    When I was in high school I volunteered at a home for the mentally disabled that was run by the Sisters of Mercy. I went to Mass there on Saturday evenings and the volunteers sat with one or two of the residents. Some residents received Communion, some did not — while the sisters in charge of catechisis took a pretty broad view of “knowledge” there was clearly a minimum and some kids were not at that point.

    Level of a 6-month-old? That’s a pretty big stretch. But I wonder about some of the story as related in the article. The grandmother describes her having worked to prepare her grandson for communion. Either the “level of a 6-mo-old” means something completely different than what I would think that it would mean, or the grandmother is seriously delusional. If, on the other had, the story was botched and it was supposed to be “level of a 6 year old” then that is a completely different story. Six years old is well within a reasonable level of knowledge.

  • CD

    It’s not at all like the case with the family that wanted a non-wheat host. A wheat host and grape wine are the necessary matter for the sacrament. An minimal level of cognitive ability is not, as witnessed by the Eastern practice.

  • Kate

    I am preminded of my cousin, who married in a storefront Protestant church, and whose children were “welcomed,” but not baptized, though wearing full christening outfits. When her son was 7, she called the local Catholic church to arrange for First Communion. Neither child, recall, had been baptized OR received any instruction — as anything!

    She screeched “Discrimination” when the priest said sure, as soon as the children were baptized and had a few Sunday school lessons. She was only concerned about the dress-up part, & cradle Catholic or no, actually didn’t know what either baptism or Communion were.

    This sounds similar. Sadly, it’s very common.

  • Chris

    More evidence that we need to return to the practice of communing infants.

  • http://cause-of-our-joy.blogspot.com Leticia Velasquez

    My nine year old daughter with Down syndrome was able to receive the Eucharist for the first time last summer. I think she does recognize Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by her reverence for the Host and her desire to continue to receive it even after she realized that the Host has virtually no taste (its not candy). I worked with my pastor to determine when she should receive and we waited for her to ‘tell’ us by her actions. She points to the Host and to her mouth at the consecration to tell us she wants to receive, and now receives every Sunday.
    My pastor said Blessed Mother Teresa used to point to the Host and then to the crucifix to help the disabled person understand the Host is Jesus. Christina said “Jesus” more than once while at adoration.
    I hope this helps anyone dealing with this situation.

  • Jean

    Two things come to my mind. 1st, we should trust that this priest made an informed decision based on his understanding of the situation–child and family–.
    2nd, I for one trust that this priest might change his mind. He is allowed to do that, you know.
    None of us on this earth today are perfect. We make mistakes and misjudgements.
    It is very hard to know what anyone is thinking–from infant to 100–. I won’t even touch the issue of dementia except to say that my father suffered from Alzheimer’s Dementia and yet knew when it was Sunday and would dress, suit and tie, for Mass and at least went through the motions.
    I could not deny Holy Communion to anyone who put out his hand or tongue. God Bless and Guide both the family and the priest.

  • http://patheos.com Randy

    I have been a catechist for many years and also taught Rica for teens and a youth minister.Being deied the Eucharist is harsh bur there may have been a reason. I f there were no classes or catechesis then it should be “postponed” until the catechesis is done. I attended seminars and a class about sacraments and special needs people. it can be done. maybe I’m missing something but there is a process that takes place within the parish. if the process wasn’t achieved then it should be postponed until it is achieved. if it is just the grandmother and she thinks its ok for it to happen well then its wrong; but I must agree with an earlier post. There was such an opportunity for evangelization that was wasted but still is there. this issue must be addressesd with the love of Jesus. so that all understand what is actually being missed here.I f you want to talk about the real presence than bring Him in to the picture and act accordingly. evangelize, catechesis, prayer and love will help. Easter blessings. Alleluia

  • Ann

    As the wife of a permanent deacon who used to bring Communion to the home-bound and disabled, I can say that when a person with dementia begins to spit out the host because he/she does not recognize it as the Holy Eucharist any more, that is the time to stop bringing the Communion to him or her. The family may be upset that Grandma will no longer receive, but it will be an opportunity to educate the family and caregiver. And time to call the priest to give the Anointing of the Sick to him or her. And as a Legion of Mary visitor, too often we knocked on the door of a very sick, bed-bound Catholic, whose spouse or caregiver would not let us in, and absolutely refused to allow a priest on the property. With so many grown children now fallen away, it is imperative that an older person arrange for the Sacraments while still ambulatory and/or still able to think clearly. And pray to receive the Sacraments before dying.

  • Betty Braun

    Although it is the Priest’s call,I would find another priest or bishop. No one knows what goes on between God and the soul
    at any age,condition or ability.

  • http://patheos Michael

    I don’t think the Guidelines for the Celebration of Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, is Magisterial Teaching. i think it’s issued by the US Bishops Confrence. Nor do I think it reflects the Mind of the Church.

    I think the priest got it right.

  • Ray

    Didn’t Jesus try to explain to the people of his time, that rules shouldn’t get in the way of people’s compassion.

  • Frank

    Pagansister (12 above) has it right.

    I further ask someone to tell me just who would have been harmed if the child was given the communion wafer? Not the baptized child, not the caring relatives who are following as diligently as possible the rules to raise their family in the faith, and not the congregation who would have been a given chance to be supportive of a fellow parish family.

    If, as the song goes, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love”, then this was a complete failure. If the rule is as strict as posited in other posts, then it is another example of a poorly conceived man-made edict.

  • Anderson

    Reminds me of the story of a girl with celiac who couldn’t receive the Host, so the family became Methodist. The possibility of receiving the Precious Blood or low-gluten Host aside, what kind of person would leave over being denied the Eucharist and then go to a Church that has no Eucharist!

    Dev Thakur,

    What do you mean by saying that Methodists have “no Eucharist”?

  • Fr. Francis

    The second paragraph in the Sacramental guidelines – the one about a child being able to receive for the support of the faith of the family – is NOT IN THE ACTUAL GUIDELINES. Here it is online: http://www.richmonddiocese.org/worship/docs/Guidelines_Sacraments_Persons_Disabilities.pdf
    Correct me if I’m wrong – maybe I missed it.

    Absent that principle of dubious origin, one reverts to the governing rule that the recipient needs to have a sufficient use of reason to receive Communion. It seems like Father made the right call and this suffering family made an, at best, imprudent decision to hang him out to dry.

    God wants people to obey the rules of the Church when it comes to Sacraments. He understands the child’s illness and suffering and will bless him abundantly.

  • http://patheos.com Burt

    Sorry, but it’s another example of the ACLU mentality applied to the Church. It has nothing to do with the practice of the Eastern churches or the guidelines that govern such situations — the family wants their rights and are not afraid to invoke ‘discrimation’ as their complaint. No one has a right to any particular sacrament and, in this case, the pastor or priest celebrant need to know ahead of time if this child may receive Holy Communion with sufficent Faith to achieve the end for whcih the Sacrament is given. At any rate, unless proven otherwise, I agree the priest made the right judgement call. THAT DEAR CHILD already has all the grace needed by virtue baptism to acheive eternal life.

  • http://adifferentperspective1.blogspot.com/ Jack Quirk

    Canon Law for the Latin Rite requires that those who receive Holy Communion be capable of understanding it. Obviously, there is no such rule for the Eastern Catholic Churches where people receive from infancy.

    This is why we should not confuse canon law with Divine Law or dogma. We have every right to criticize canon law, especially in light of Divine Law. This is one area where the canon law for the Latin Rite has got it wrong. Nobody fully understands the Eucharist.

    The priest had no choice, perhaps. But this is a good time to enact a change in a canon that is wrong and unjust.

  • ThirstforTruth

    In our parish we are blessed with a family whose eldest son
    was “denied” Holy Communion for many years by our Pastor who felt this autistic child could not “appreciate” the sacrament fully enough to receive. This child was much in evidence to the rest of the congregation and much loved as were his parents for their bravery and constant devotion to their son. Anyway afew years ago we were blessed with a priest who saw this child as Christ surely does and one Sunday brought him the Holy Eucharist. With the aide of his father the young man received and still does to this day. There are very few dry eyes as we witness the love and care of this father as he brings each Sunday his young son to the altar to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus. Surely this is a biblical moment like the one we read about as Jesus admonishes his disciples when they would keep the littlest among them from Him. These parishioners should pray for a change of heart in their Pastor so that he sees the benefits for the child and makes allowances for his affliction. After all
    who knows what Terri Schiavo was able to understand as she was given Viaticum…some things if not all things we just need to lift to the Lord. It will bring great blessings upon all
    the congregation to be able to witness this miracle in their
    presence. The child can be trained ahead of time by the parents and their priest so that he knows what to expect.

  • Kelso

    I don’t think the priest gave the child anointing of the sick with oil, more than likely it was a blessing, as priests do to babies at the altar. It would be wrong for a priest to use the blessed oil for any reason other than sacramental. So, there cannot be repeated Extreme Unctions here. If there is no sign by which the priest can know that the communicant understands Who it is he is receiving then the canon law must be followed.

    In eastern Catholic Church, I do not think they receive before the age of reason except in infancy at baptism. And in this case the priest gives Our Lord under the species of the wine. I think the Latin Church should adopt this, perhaps this was even common in the early western Church. I am asking a question.

  • http://leavingpawprints.com Marylynn

    In the Archdiocese of Detroit there’s a little girl whose “reactions to the care she receives are limited to opening her eyes, smacking her lips, making soft sounds with her voice, and flashing an occasional smile.”

    She received Communion from a bishop. Michigan Catholic story: http://bit.ly/fkYsr2

    “Early last year, he asked Ellen and Michael if they’d considered having Meghan receive communion. They told him they thought she would have to understand and give consent in order to receive the sacrament. So the bishop turned to Meghan, and asked if she wanted to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.”
    “I’ve never seen her smile like that,” Ellen says of her daughter’s reply.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    For what it’s worth…

    Several years ago, a group of parents approached my pastor with a similar problem. They all had children with disabilities — I’m not sure what was involved, whether it was autism or palsy or what — and their pastor had refused to let their kids receive first communion, for the usual reason: he didn’t think they understood sufficiently what was happening. These parents asked my pastor if he could help them. And he agreed. He scheduled a special first communion mass for one Saturday.

    I’ll never forget it. I was in formation at the time, so was the “altar boy.” My wife was the lector. There were about a dozen children, and their parents and close family, all crowded into the sanctuary of an otherwise empty church. At moments, it was pure pandemonium, with crying and screaming and constant movement by the kids. But every one made their first communion. And there was, by the end, a beautiful tranquility among many of the children. It was touching to experience that first hand.

    More than that, there was a profound gratitude on the part of the parents. They’ll never forget that. They’ll always remember that the church opened its arms to them and their children during a difficult time, and offered them all the gift of healing grace.

    Was it canonically correct? Maybe not.

    But more good was done on that morning, for more people, than could ever be measured by any rubric-defining, hair-splitting, nit-removing canonist or liturgical purist — and at the very least, it kept several families close to the Church, and the sacraments, and God’s mercy.

    Dcn. G.

  • DcnFab

    My mother has advanced dementia. When she stopped recongizing the host, I started bringing her the precious blood. She seems to respond to the prayers and since I don’t know if each time I go if it will be the last, it could be viaticum. I believe that the grace of the sacrament is still working within her.

    We have a mentally challenged young man in our parish. He initially reveived whe it was felt that he had some unstanding of the eucharist. He attends mass each week with his mother and recieves communion each week. If only our metally healthy had such devotion.

  • Charles

    1. While I’m sure well-meaning, the offer of the anointing of the sick was neither sacramentally appropriate nor respectful to the child’s dignity. If I was in their shoes I would have been greatly offended. However, we also can’t stay offended forever. We must forgive and let it go, not rush to broadcast it further. A fellow priest in the parish, diocesan head of parish life, or the bishop would have been the appropriate person to share the story with.
    2. There are great reasons and purpose for the criteria for reception of the Eucharist. Understanding and accepting the Truth is often expressed in knowledge, discernment and often outward action. This child may not be able to display all these signs in the structures and definitions we commonly recognize them for. However, that does not necessarily mean he does not fully understand, accept and love God in His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Love is transcendental. It is by Love that we know Reason, not always the other way around. (As any intellectual convert/revert would tell you – for all their studies they found clarity, purpose and being in the graces of faith and in experiencing Love.) So I’m resistant to the idea that one must be able to reason before one can share in and be one with Love. However, in most cases it is a sufficient, and, given the gravity of the act of desecration of the Eucharist, a necessary, criteria to apply.

  • Emily

    Anointing of the sick- Does it really apply here? Strictly speaking, cerebral palsy is not a disease. It is simply how that individual was born. Would the anointing of the sick be appropriate for someone with Down Syndrome, who is otherwise healthy? I don’t think so. Down Syndrome isn’t a disease, its just an extra chromosome. I agree with the family that giving such a blessing to this boy is insensitive and pretty ignorant.

  • Chris Sullivan

    Deacon Greg,

    Thank you so much for posting that “For what it’s worth” ….

    God Bless

  • Linus

    The Roman Catholic Church has its own discipline and must be followed. The Bishops and their priests really don’t have any leaway. If you are a Roman Catholic you should understand that. Christ will allow no harm to come to an innocent who is deemed not ready or able to receive certain sacraments. Those close to such an individual should accept the decision in humble submission.

  • GABRIEL

    Linus, if the Lord did not intend for this boy to receive the Eucharist, you can be fairly certain He would have mentioned that at the supper.

    Now give the boy his favourite food for the Eucharist.

    If he understands nothing else in this world, he will understand the love that lies behind it.

    If there are any objections to that, tell them I said it was ok.

    GABRIEL

  • Marci

    This deeply troubles me. Again, ignorance about disabilites abounds in all areas of life, professions, and all ages- and the catholic institution is clearly no exception – but it should make more of an effort to understand the families and disabled in order to better serve them –Shameful. Priests are not psychologists or child development experts by any means. I would have hoped this priest would have done a little more to understand the family’s and child’s needs, consulted with professionals – both within the church and those who know something about disabilities, and used the most liberal interpretation of any “rules or guidelines” in a situation like this. What a hurtful thing to do.

    As a parent of a child with special needs I’ve received a lot of support from my parish =–however if you’re wondering why people are leaving the catholic faith here is another glowing example. The shape of the church, whether you stand or kneel during communion, and whether you hold hands during prayer isn’t what is driving people away.

    Cudos for the family for bringing the spotlight on this situation. I would imagine if the priest would have discussed this within the diocese (or maybe with a larger more informed diocese outside of TX) the outcome would have been different –at least I would hope so.

  • Peter TW

    According to me, the Body of Christ is received by the child through the caregiver, by Holy Communion and by the care he/she gives to the child. I think that every care is a form of praye and quantification of the principle of the Word made Flesh.

  • Megan

    What surprises me is that there are so many parishes that don’t provide the necessary religious education for these individuals. I run a center specifically for those who have difficulty attending regular religious education classes because of their disability(all a parent needs is an Individual Education Plan-IEP with a classification) for the child to register.

    The center is in my parish but the students are welcomed from any parish.

    The Holy Innocents Society – a program in our diocese was started over forty years ago. If a parent is willing to bring the child (or adult) to the classes their child will be able to receive the sacraments. We work with anyone no matter what the disability is. We use every means we know of to teach about the sacraments and in the end we have faith in our Lord that He will understand and He knows what is in the hearts of the children, even if we don’t. I think the one thing we have to keep in mind is that all things are possible with God.

  • James K

    One of my all-time favourite photographs in the Pittsburgh Catholic was of Bishop Wuerl bringing First Holy Communion to the children with disabilities at the McGuire Memorial Home. This was perhaps 15 or 20 years ago, but the look of joy on that little girl’s face was truly unforgettable. I had to think that SHE knew exactly what and whom she received that day.

  • naturgesetz

    Marci — How do you know that the priest didn’t consult with anybody else?

  • naturgesetz

    Deacon Greg — I think we have to recognize the tension between “ex opere operato” and “dispositions of the recipient.”

    Although we rely on the former especially in the case of the unrepeatable sacraments, and above all in infant baptism, even there we have to realize that the sacrament is fruitless unless at some point the proper disposition is elicited.

    We also have to realize that the sacraments are not goodies to be used for the gratification of third parties. They are to be an encounter of the recipient with the Lord, not merely a way of making grandma happy.

  • Craig R.

    “Fr. Francis” –

    The text shown at the Diocese of Baltimore website is not in the “Guidelines” (which is likely why there is no set of “quote” marks around that paragraph), but section 20 of the “Guidelines” does clearly state “Cases of doubt should be
    resolved in favor of the right of the baptized person to receive the sacrament. The
    existence of a disability is not considered in and of itself as disqualifying a person from
    receiving the Eucharist.”

  • KGinMD

    Before the child first receives the Eucharist doesn’t he need to have the sacrament of reconciliation? That’s the way it is in my parish. If the child is cognizant enough for reconciliation, then that would indicate an ability to appreciate the Eucharist.

    I can’t tell from the article whether the grandmother spoke to the priest or DRE at the church ahead of time or just showed up one Sunday and expected her grandson to receive. I teach CCD to 6th graders and based on what I have seen and heard, most of the children need more than a parent or grandparent preparing them.

  • Frank

    Gabriel (38) — Great comment!

  • diakonos09

    Requiring an understanding of the Real Presence (even if basic and minimal) whether of a disabled child or a demented adult reflects the common Roman (in the sense of ancient culture not just as in “Church”) tendency of intellect over spirituality. The Eastern Churches/Catholics see the sacraments more as acts of God that bring us into the unfathomable mystery. Can anyone really understand? I am all for catechesis at eveyr age and adult faith formation but at some point we have to admit that faith is first of all our repsonse to God’s invitation to be in realtionship with Him and only after that can we reflect upon and grow daily in the knowledge of what this means (yet never really understand).

    The ancient Church sets an example to follow and the Eastern Christians have preserved this sense of the mystery and sacredness of the liturgy and sacraments. This case is a prime example of how a too intellecutal tendency puts us into the situation of seeing “man made for the sabbath”. The sacraments were made by Christ for man, not the other way around.

  • RomCath

    “however if you’re wondering why people are leaving the catholic faith here is another glowing example.”

    For a ridiculous comment, this takes the proverbial cake. You are mad because someone is denied the Eucharist and then you say they leave and they then deny themselves the Eucharist. HUH?

  • Tapestry

    Children that have disabilities like this are like angels. Their baptism is all they need for eternal life.

    The other sacraments were given to us who sin and need grace to sin no more. This child never committs sin grace is pouring into him each day.

    The Sacrament of the Sick can be given more than once, usually when you have an operation, or very sick,
    Grandpa had it 3 times in his life, and that isn’t unusual.
    But again Grandpa had his sins.. this child has no sin.
    So why these parents are demanding something the child really does not need sounds like a bunch of stuff and nonsense, all about appearences and not about the child.

  • Trish

    (32) “Was it canonically correct? Maybe not.

    But more good was done on that morning, for more people, than could ever be measured by any rubric-defining, hair-splitting, nit-removing canonist or liturgical purist — and at the very least, it kept several families close to the Church, and the sacraments, and God’s mercy.”

    God Bless You Deacon Greg. As the parent of a Down Syndrome child contemplating wand worrying about how to handle first communion I was dismayed by the lack of compassion in many comments but your posting made me literally cry in relief. I don’t understand how the Catholic Church can be so vocal about not aborting special needs children yet at the same time often so unwelcoming to them.


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