Friday, January 15, 2010

Orthodoxy and Infant Communion



The above video shows an infant receiving First Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. A discussion between myself and OrthoCath has arisen on this subject, and I welcome comments here as well. 

Now, not that I question the autonomy of Orthodoxy to set whatever disciplines they deem appropriate, but I find it a bit ironic that infants, who cannot testify to their Faith at all, are welcomed - and yet Catholics in communion with Rome (Eastern or Latin) are forbidden.  The reverse is not true - since we recognize the validity of Orthodoxy's priests and Eucharist they are permitted to join us in Eucharist - but if a Latin Rite Catholic (or even an Eastern Rite Catholic in communion with Rome) approaches the Eucharist, they will be refused.

Communion with Rome is another subject entirely - which I plan to bring up here as well, but for now in this article and comments, I'd like to see comments restricted to the Eucharist.

38 comments:

  1. A blog by Eric Sammons has this to say:
    I admit that I am supportive of the idea of returning the practice of infant communion to the Western Church, although I do think there can be solid pastoral reasons for refraining until the age of reason is reached. The grace that is received from the sacrament – grace that is not due to our ability to understand it (for who can really understand it?) and therefore unrelated to our use of reason – is needed from the earliest ages. I personally would love it if my own 6-month-old daughter was allowed to participate at the Lord’s Table with the rest of the baptized.

    I must say I am in agreement with Sammon's sentiments here. I do not oppose infant communion, and that really wasn't the focus of my article - moreso, if infants are accepted and welcomed, why not Western Christians?

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  2. ...or I should say, "Western Christians who share the same Faith when it comes to the Eucharist."

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  3. Qtd on: http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.beckwithantiquity.html
    The earliest definite reference to infant or child communion, on the other hand, is in Cyprian (On the Lapsed 9, 25) about the year 251, after the voluminous writings of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, and Origen had appeared, without any reference to such a practice; and there is both earlier and contemporary evidence that this was something of a novelty. Cyprian was a Western Father, writing in the Latin-speaking seaboard of North Africa opposite Italy; but about sixteen years earlier Origen, by then permanently resident in Palestine, states that children (parvuli) are not given communion, and what he says may well apply not only to Palestine but also to his homeland of Egypt. His words are these:

    > Before we arrive at the
    > provision of the heavenly bread,
    > and are filled with the flesh of
    > the spotless Lamb, before we are
    > inebriated with the blood of the
    > true Vine which sprang from the
    > root of David, while we are
    > children, and are fed with milk,
    > and retain the discourse about
    > the first principles of Christ,
    > as children we act under the
    > oversight of stewards, namely
    > the guardian angels (Homilies on
    > the Book of Judges 6:2).

    Though Origen’s language is highly metaphorical, it is difficult to understand him as speaking of anything but literal children and the literal sacrament. Literal children, if they have learned the first principles of Christ, do not have to wait before feeding on Christ spiritually, though they may have to wait before feeding on him sacramentally. Adults young in the faith do not have to wait before feeding on Christ spiritually, and though they might have to wait before feeding on him sacramentally (especially in the early church, with its long course of catechizing for adult converts), this would only be if they were waiting to be baptized as well, and Origen makes no allusion to baptism. So it seems that he is speaking of literal children, already baptized, but waiting for admission to the Lord’s supper.

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  4. I'm not seeing the irony. Because children partake it should be open slather? What if a Protestant goes to an Eastern Catholic church and says "oh the irony, children partake, why can't I"?

    As for Beckwith and his quotes, given how often the New Testament uses the term "little children" of adults, and "fed with milk" as adults new in the faith I'd like to see better evidence, or at least more context. I mean, we know the west changed this in the 2nd millenium, and not because they read Origen and were convicted.

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  5. I believe Beckwith's statement is that there is no concrete evidence of infant communion prior to the 3rd century - and even evidence of exclusion prior to that.

    As for Protestants, they do not have the same belief in Eucharist as do the Orthodox and Catholicism. For the same reason Protestants are excluded from Catholic Communion. As I pointed out, Orthodoxy is not excluded from Catholic Eucharist.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  6. If Rome is going to give up on everything for which there is no extant concrete evidence prior to the 3rd century, then its got a few more things to give up.

    I'm sure there are some Protestants that have the same belief in the Eucharist. At the very least, Anglo Catholics. Why aren't they allowed? And are old-Catholics and so forth allowed?

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  7. Just want to clarify that the Beckwith being quoted is not Francis Beckwith (well known among Catholics), but someone else. Now, reading his patristic quotations is not satisfying. The one from Cyprian is highly metaphorical. (It seems the Beckwith article has some confusion between Cyprian and Origen...perhaps from when it was scanned or typed for the doc file?) The other quote from the Didascalia is also vague.

    Actually, Cyprian records infant Communion. Check Vol. 1 of The Faith of the Early Fathers by Jurgens, pp. 218-219 (section 552a). The reference is from Cyprian's "The Lapsed." Jurgens (the editor) cites this example of an infant Communion. I won't here detail the incident related by St. Cyprian, but I think most of us can reference Jurgens to read the account. So, Beckwith's claim that infant Communion is not mentioned by St. Cyprian is not substantiated.

    A good overview of the early Christian practice can be read in this article by a Reformed writer:

    http://www.reformed.org/social/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/sacramentology/tl_paedo.html

    Again, Beckwith's claims are rather weak and contradicted by the evidence provided by others. Fr. Robert Taft's comments are in the mainstream of scholarship on this matter. Fisher's "Baptism in the Medieval West" covers the subject thoroughly. I strongly recommend reading it. Much of the text can be read at Google books:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=h4YG1kwMieEC&dq=baptism+west+fisher&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=zFjfOfVXYN&sig=cQOsEX_vxje-8VzYeB-DVshfGlQ&hl=en&ei=PGpNS_aBMYKgsgPYz43bAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CAoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    Again, Orthodox have preserved the ancient Christian practice of maintaining the unity of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist) for adults and children.

    As to the comparison between the inclusiveness (or lack thereof) of Orthodox and Catholic communion pratices. First, the Catholic openness to Orthodox only dates from about 1970. It's rather new on the ecumenical scene. Before Vatican II, Catholics believed that Orthodox had valid sacraments but no jurisdiction and Catholics were not allowed to attend Orthodox liturgies. That's all changed and Orthodox are welcome to receive at Mass. Even the most ecumenical Orthodox would could say that it's unfair to compare Orthodox on this issue when the current Catholic practice is less than 50 years old. Generally, Orthodox would say, however, that there are still doctrinal problems between the Churches and no intercommunion should be allowed until those are solved. This is something for the Bishops to work out, not us.

    ReplyDelete
  8. John wrote:
    > If Rome is going to give up on
    > everything for which there is no
    > extant concrete evidence prior
    > to the 3rd century, then its got
    > a few more things to give up.

    sw: Who said Rome is giving up on everything for which there is no extant concrete evidence for prior to the 3rd century? That's a straw man, John. The argument, I believe, is that infant communion ALWAYS existed, and there's no proof of that - AND - there's evidence that it was explicitly prohibited.

    sw: Such prohibitions are not dogma, but discipline in nature and thus can be changed. I do not argue against the practice - or even that it is an ancient practice, only that it was not ALWAYS in ALL PLACES practiced - and it seems for a while was even prohibited.

    John continues:
    > I'm sure there are some
    > Protestants that have the same
    > belief in the Eucharist. At the
    > very least, Anglo Catholics. Why
    > aren't they allowed? And are
    > old-Catholics and so forth
    > allowed?

    sw: Quite simply because without valid orders - they have no valid Eucharist, regardless of what they profess. The point I am making is Catholics and Orthodox both recognize the validity of each others Eucharist. Lutherans believe in a form of Real Presence too - but their belief does not make it so. Only a validly consecrated host is truly the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.

    sw: I'm sure you could come up with all sorts of diversions here, but the point is Catholics and Orthodoxy SHARE in both belief AND validity, why not open Communion between the two? Yes, I know, because there is not doctrinal unity on OTHER grounds - but my point remains, where their IS unity, it should be expressed and not "denied."

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  9. OrthoCatho writes:
    > Just want to clarify that the
    > Beckwith being quoted is not
    > Francis Beckwith (well known
    > among Catholics), but someone
    > else.

    sw: Thank you, I meant to do the same when his name was pointed out more prominently. Yes, the "Beckwith" quoted here is a "Roger T. Beckwith" - and based on the source I'd say he's likely a Lutheran or other Protestant (and the source came from The Westminster Theological Journal.

    OrthoCath continues:
    > Now, reading his patristic
    > quotations is not satisfying.
    > The one from Cyprian is highly
    > metaphorical.

    sw: Beckwith's explanation is satisfying - but I can understand why it would not be satisfying to you - as it does not fit your current paradigm.

    > (It seems the Beckwith article
    > has some confusion between
    > Cyprian and Origen...perhaps
    > from when it was scanned or
    > typed for the doc file?) The
    > other quote from the Didascalia
    > is also vague.

    Beckwith's point is the ORDER in which they are stated - which is not vague in either reading.

    OrthoCath continues:
    > Actually, Cyprian records infant
    > Communion. Check Vol. 1 of The
    > Faith of the Early Fathers by
    > Jurgens, pp. 218-219 (section
    > 552a). The reference is from
    > Cyprian's "The Lapsed." Jurgens
    > (the editor) cites this example
    > of an infant Communion. I won't
    > here detail the incident related
    > by St. Cyprian, but I think most
    > of us can reference Jurgens to
    > read the account. So, Beckwith's
    > claim that infant Communion is
    > not mentioned by St. Cyprian is
    > not substantiated.

    sw: OrthoCath, I am disappointed in you. I have Jurgens and I looked up the passage. Jurgens makes reference to an "infantile stubbornness of a cranky child" and Cyprian mentions that this "child" is "impatient" and but what is ACTUALLY being told here is about the miracle of an exorcism! The "child" is possessed, and when the deacon first tried to give her the Eucharist she had the "instinct of the divine majesty" - she KNEW it was the body and blood of Jesus! Then when the deacon forced the Eucharist upon her, "the drink sanctified in the blood of the Lord burst forth from her polluted stomach." The fact is we don't know the age of this child - only that the term "infant" is used, but Jurgens' own commentary, which you cite, states she is a cranky child with infantile stubbornness (he seems to be denying the exorcism here) and that she should have been home with a reliable baby sitter instead of their disturbing "responsible Christians at their prayers." (I'm a bit disappointed in Jurgens on this point as well!) I do believe a fair reading of the passage in question states that the child is too young to eat meat, I'm not sure how much of an "infant" that makes her - but we could logically conclude that she had not yet reached the "age of reason" or culpability based on this.

    (snipped other sources - I am not challenging the antiquity of the discipline - again, MY QUESTION is about admitting Christians in communion with Rome to Orthodoxy's Eucharist.

    OrthoCath continues:
    > Again, Orthodox have preserved
    > the ancient Christian practice
    > of maintaining the unity of the
    > Sacraments of Initiation
    > (Baptism, Chrismation,
    > Eucharist) for adults and
    > children.

    sw: And again, that is not the point here. I realize it was YOUR point on your blog - I asked a different question.

    sw: My post is too long, so I will break here...

    ReplyDelete
  10. ...continuing and...
    Finally getting back to the point:
    > As to the comparison between the
    > inclusiveness (or lack thereof)
    > of Orthodox and Catholic
    > communion pratices. First, the
    > Catholic openness to Orthodox
    > only dates from about 1970. It's
    > rather new on the ecumenical
    > scene. Before Vatican II,
    > Catholics believed that Orthodox
    > had valid sacraments but no
    > jurisdiction and Catholics were
    > not allowed to attend Orthodox
    > liturgies. That's all changed
    > and Orthodox are welcome to
    > receive at Mass. Even the most
    > ecumenical Orthodox would could
    > say that it's unfair to compare
    > Orthodox on this issue when the
    > current Catholic practice is
    > less than 50 years old.

    sw: The AGE of the practice is irrelevant to the CORRECTNESS of the practice! Just because something is old does not make it good! Arianism is an ancient heresy - but because it's been around so long it should be accepted as good? That is the logical end to your argument about how long something has been practiced. It is a red herring and does not answer to the appropriateness, or lack thereof, based on the merits. The longevity, or lack thereof, is not relevant to what is RIGHT.

    OrthoCath concludes with:
    > Generally, Orthodox would say,
    > however, that there are still
    > doctrinal problems between the
    > Churches and no intercommunion
    > should be allowed until those
    > are solved. This is something
    > for the Bishops to work out, not
    > us.

    sw: It is something the "us" should speak out about! "We" should not just sit idly by while the bishops (on one side) concentrate on the festering polemics of past politics. Where we ARE united - we should BE united not only in creed, but in practice. We should share our communion - and the West IS of that mindset, regardless of your criticism of the age of this acceptance.

    sw: This, I believe, remains true to John's objection too. Catholics and Protestants are NOT united in the Eucharist itself, and therefore there should not be intercommunion.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  11. I'm content to let Bishops do their job regarding whether our Churches are ready for intercommunion or not.

    Jurgens pointedly says "we include the above passage...because of its wealth of homely detail significant to the Liturgy of Carthage: most notably, the deacon as minister of the cup, and infant communion." (Vol. 1, p. 219) I don't understand why you were disappointed in me as I accurately cited this passage as an incidence of infant Communion. Jurgens (a Roman Catholic priest writing in 1970) reveals his bias against infant Communion (which is not surprising), but I do have to give him credit that he acknowledges that it was the practice in Carthage in St. Cyprian's day.

    I realize now that I misread Beckwith's article earlier and confused his reference of Origen and Cyprian. Still, if that's the best Beckwith can come up with (the Origen and Didascalia quotes) against the evidence that is cited by Fr. Robert Taft and the book I cited by Fisher, it's clear his evidence is weak. Where are the explicit references to later first communion in the Fathers? Where are the explicit statements in the Fathers that one need reach an age of reason before receiving Communion? In view of the clear evidence of infant Communion in the early Church that are referenced in articles I've cited, where are statements arguing against that in the Fathers? One would expect that if such existed.

    Father Taft's statement has not been successfully contradicted:

    "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.”

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  12. > The
    > other quote from the Didascalia
    > is also vague.

    Beckwith's point is the ORDER in which they are stated - which is not vague in either reading.

    The Didascalia quote:

    "Honour the bishops, who have loosed you from your sins, who by the water regenerated you, who filled you with the Holy Spirit, who reared you with the word as with milk, who bred you up with teaching, who established you with admonition, and made you to partake of the holy eucharist of God, and made you partakers and joint-heirs of the promise of God."

    A good refutation of using this as Beckwith has done:

    "Roger Beckwith ... calls attention to the 'significant' order: 'The bishop's flock had first been baptized, then been reared with a long course of teaching, and finally, in maturity, been admitted to communion' (p. 42). Such a reading makes far more of the passage than common sense warrants. There is no obvious reason to understand the arrangement of clauses chronologically, and to understand them in this way distorts the passage. If the order is 'significant,' then we also may conclude that the bishop looses from sins before applying the waters of regeneration, that rearing up with the word preceded teaching, and that all this preceded becoming partakers of the promise of God. It is far more probable that, in the understanding of the writer, the 'loosing from sin' took place in baptism, and that rearing with the Word and teaching are to be understood as synonyms. The passage does not provide an ordo salutis, but simply lists various dimensions of ministry of the bishop. If the passage is not chronologically arranged, it provides no clear evidence against paedocommunion." (Tommy Lee quoting Peter J. Leithart at: http://www.reformed.org/social/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/sacramentology/tl_paedo.html)

    ReplyDelete
  13. An interesting review and notes of Fisher's "Baptism in the Medieval West" by a Lutheran pastor looking into Orthodoxy can be read in these series of posts from the blog Backwards Treasure:

    http://en.wordpress.com/tag/western-church-eucharistic-practice/

    In it he reviews the historical evidence from the Western Church.

    ReplyDelete
  14. OrthoCath,
    This blog entry, though it has infant communion as a part of it is NOT focused upon infant communion! MY question asks about intercommunion between those in communion with Rome at Orthodox churches. Your ONLY answer to that is "let the bishops work that out," so fine - you're conceding the point to the bishops. On YOUR blog there is more of a discussion about infant communion itself and as I've said NUMEROUS TIMES NOW, I don't have an issue with infant communion. I don't think that having that makes Orthodoxy any better or worse. It is a discipline they have chosen.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  15. OrthoCath wrote:
    > I don't understand why you were
    > disappointed in me as I accurately
    > cited this passage as an incidence
    > of infant Communion.

    sw: You accurately cited, but Jurgens point was the little girl should have stayed home, that she was acting like a spoiled brat (not his words). Yes, he used the terminology of "infant communion" - but downplayed that as much as he downplayed the exorcism which took place here.

    sw: Again, I do not oppose infant communion - if you think I do, then you're barking up the wrong tree. If you somehow think this practice makes Orthodoxy "better" then you are entitled to that opinion, which I happen to disagree with - but all you have there is opinion. WHEN to celebrate a Sacrament is purely disciplinary in nature. No one here has questioned the validity of the Sacrament, nor the right of Orthodoxy to celebrate it with infants. You appear to be putting up a defense against something which has not been challenged nor attacked here.

    sw: From my first comment here, and I was the first to comment, I said:

    I do not oppose infant communion, and that really wasn't the focus of my article - moreso, if infants are accepted and welcomed, why not Western Christians (who share the same Faith when it comes to the Eucharist?)

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  16. " The argument, I believe, is that infant communion ALWAYS existed, and there's no proof of that - AND - there's evidence that it was explicitly prohibited. "

    We've got this vague quote from Origen that it may be prohibited, and 19 years later we've got an explicit statement from Cyprian that infant communion is the practice. So it seems to me you are way overstating things.

    "Who said Rome is giving up on everything for which there is no extant concrete evidence for prior to the 3rd century?"

    Obviously it is not. Which is the point. Extant evidence from before the 3rd century isn't proof, especialy when there is no explicit evidence for the contrary view.

    "Such prohibitions are not dogma, but discipline in nature and thus can be changed."

    Possibly, but claiming that tends to be the refuge of one caught leaning the wrong way.

    "only that it was not ALWAYS in ALL PLACES practiced"

    Have you got anything besides this vague Origen quote?

    "Quite simply because without valid orders - they have no valid Eucharist, regardless of what they profess."

    (a) that's a new argument.
    (b) So what? If their orders are invalid, all the more reason for you to bless them with the benefits of valid ones.
    (c) Don't old catholics have valid orders from your POV?

    "The point I am making is Catholics and Orthodox both recognize the validity of each others Eucharist".

    Orthodox don't officially recognize Catholic Eucharist.

    For example, Alexander Kalomiros in the book "Against False Union" (St Nectarios press) states that "It would be stupid and blasphemous to consider that Papists who are guily of the worst schism that the history of the Church has ever known, and of a whole system of heresies have valid Mysteries and Priesthood".

    That may not be the view of all Orthodox, who knows, possibly not even most, I don't know. But unless Orthodoxy were to make a decision about what you are saying, it is not accepted as true from our point of view.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Beckwith's point is the ORDER in which they are stated - which is not vague in either reading."

    Except that the order is quite possibly meaningless. It doesn't claim to be chronological. Some people have made the mistake of assuming the Gospels must be chronological, but it isn't true.

    ""We" should not just sit idly by while the bishops (on one side) concentrate on the festering polemics of past politics. Where we ARE united - we should BE united not only in creed, but in practice."

    It's hard to be united in practice with this very glaring difference in practice. If you're Eastern its awkward to be sending your children forward for the eucharist in the Latin church. If you're Latin its awkward to NOT send your children forward in an Eastern Church. Its hard to have unity in the Eucharist when you can't agree on who can partake it. I mean, either the East is doing it to the benefit of the children, and your children are missing out, or the East is doing it for no benefit, and are wasting their time.

    ReplyDelete
  18. SW: No one here has questioned the validity of the Sacrament, nor the right of Orthodoxy to celebrate it with infants. You appear to be putting up a defense against something which has not been challenged nor attacked here.

    DB: You're the one that introduced the quotes from Beckwith who tries to make the case that infant Communion was not the norm in the early Church. I hope you understand why I would feel it was appropriate to counter what I felt were inaccurate statements made by Beckwith.

    SW: You accurately cited, but Jurgens point was the little girl should have stayed home, that she was acting like a spoiled brat (not his words). Yes, he used the terminology of "infant communion" - but downplayed that as much as he downplayed the exorcism which took place here.

    DB: Again, I'm puzzled by what appears to be a rebuke by you of my citing Jurgens. You originally said you were "disappointed" in me over this. Yes, Jurgens downplays the exorcism and the infant Communion. And, yes, Jurgens apparently does not like infant Communion. How surprising?! In 1970, even the Eastern Catholic Churches did not have infant Communion. That came in the 1990s. My citing of Jurgens was just to show his acknowledgement of it happening in the Church of Carthage. That was all. I never said (nor implied) that Jurgens personally approved of infant Communion.

    SW: If you somehow think this practice makes Orthodoxy "better" then you are entitled to that opinion, which I happen to disagree with - but all you have there is opinion. WHEN to celebrate a Sacrament is purely disciplinary in nature.

    SW: On YOUR blog there is more of a discussion about infant communion itself and as I've said NUMEROUS TIMES NOW, I don't have an issue with infant communion. I don't think that having that makes Orthodoxy any better or worse. It is a discipline they have chosen.

    DB: No. It's a holy tradition which Orthodoxy has maintained from the earliest eras of the Church.

    DB: The Latin tradition of separating Baptism and Chrismation (Confirmation) is a corruption of the original tradition. The original tradition was to have all the Sacraments of Initiation together. After one was Baptized, they would be receive Chrism which confirmed or completed the Sacrament. Then they would next receive the Eucharist. This was for all (adults and infants) who entered the Church. To say it's just a "discipline" the Orthodox have chosen is unacceptable.

    DB: Orthodoxy has retained the ancient tradition of the undivided Church of not separating the Sacraments of Initiation for all who enter the Church. Does it make Orthodoxy "better"? On this subject I would argue that it does as it is always better to stay with the tradition we've received from the Fathers.

    ReplyDelete
  19. >> sw: "Beckwith's point is the
    >> ORDER in which they are stated
    >> - which is not vague in either
    >> reading."
    >
    > John: Except that the order is
    > quite possibly meaningless. It
    > doesn't claim to be
    > chronological.

    sw: But could quite possibly mean a lot. Beckwith's assertion is as valid as your denial of it. So where do we go from there? Again I must assert - I am not opposed to "infant communion."

    > John: Some people have made the
    > mistake of assuming the Gospels
    > must be chronological, but it
    > isn't true.

    sw: And what has that to do with the price of rice in China?

    >> sw: "We" should not just sit
    >> idly by while the bishops (on
    >> one side) concentrate on the
    >> festering polemics of past
    >> politics. Where we ARE united -
    >> we should BE united not only in
    >> creed, but in practice."
    >
    > John: It's hard to be united in
    > practice with this very glaring
    > difference in practice.

    sw: The difference you speak of is only in the discipline of WHEN someone may receive Eucharist, NOT in the fundamental FAITH behind the Eucharist. Your objection is without merit.

    > John: If you're Eastern its
    > awkward to be sending your
    > children forward for the
    > eucharist in the Latin church.
    > If you're Latin its awkward to
    > NOT send your children forward
    > in an Eastern Church. Its hard
    > to have unity in the Eucharist
    > when you can't agree on who can
    > partake it. I mean, either the
    > East is doing it to the benefit
    > of the children, and your
    > children are missing out, or the
    > East is doing it for no benefit,
    > and are wasting their time.

    sw: Again, I do not question the Eastern Orthodox motives here. You're making much ado about nothing - and it has nothing to do with the point I asked about. So can we stop clouding the issue with this whether or not the Orthodox are "right" or not?

    Scott<<<

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  20. >> SW: No one here has questioned
    >> the validity of the Sacrament,
    >> nor the right of Orthodoxy to
    >> celebrate it with infants. You
    >> appear to be putting up a
    >> defense against something which
    >> has not been challenged nor
    >> attacked here.
    >
    > OrthoCath: You're the one that
    > introduced the quotes from
    > Beckwith who tries to make the
    > case that infant Communion was
    > not the norm in the early
    > Church. I hope you understand
    > why I would feel it was
    > appropriate to counter what I
    > felt were inaccurate statements
    > made by Beckwith.

    sw: I won't question your motives, I understand you feel close to this, but I reassert, as I have repeatedly, I do not oppose infant communion - I only quoted the Beckwith article to show it may not be as cut and dried as you have been led to believe by your sources.

    >> SW: You accurately cited, but
    >> Jurgens point was the little
    >> girl should have stayed home,
    >> that she was acting like a
    >> spoiled brat (not his words).
    >> Yes, he used the terminology of
    >> "infant communion" - but
    >> downplayed that as much as he
    >> downplayed the exorcism which
    >> took place here.
    >
    > Orthocath: Again, I'm puzzled by
    > what appears to be a rebuke by
    > you of my citing Jurgens. You
    > originally said you were
    > "disappointed" in me over this.
    > Yes, Jurgens downplays the
    > exorcism and the infant
    > Communion. And, yes, Jurgens
    > apparently does not like infant
    > Communion. How surprising?! In
    > 1970, even the Eastern Catholic
    > Churches did not have infant
    > Communion. That came in the
    > 1990s. My citing of Jurgens was
    > just to show his acknowledgement
    > of it happening in the Church of
    > Carthage. That was all. I never
    > said (nor implied) that Jurgens
    > personally approved of infant
    > Communion.

    sw: The Jurgens commentary does not help you - and it what he quotes does not conclusively prove infant communion - though I do not dispute that the age of this child had to be quite young. Again, this was not my point that we are being distracted into discussing.

    (Comment is too long for a single combox response, so I am breaking here....)

    ReplyDelete
  21. (Continuing from previous comment...)
    >> SW: If you somehow think this
    >> practice makes Orthodoxy
    >> "better" then you are entitled
    >> to that opinion, which I happen
    >> to disagree with - but all you
    >> have there is opinion. WHEN to
    >> celebrate a Sacrament is purely
    >> disciplinary in nature.
    >>
    >> SW: On YOUR blog there is more
    >> of a discussion about infant
    >> communion itself and as I've
    >> said NUMEROUS TIMES NOW, I
    >> don't have an issue with infant
    >> communion. I don't think that
    >> having that makes Orthodoxy any
    >> better or worse. It is a
    >> discipline they have chosen.
    >
    > OrthoCath: No. It's a holy
    > tradition which Orthodoxy has
    > maintained from the earliest
    > eras of the Church.

    sw: You're not seriously putting the weight of the Sacrament upon WHEN someone may receive it, are you? Come now.

    > OrthoCath: The Latin tradition
    > of separating Baptism and
    > Chrismation (Confirmation) is a
    > corruption of the original
    > tradition. The original
    > tradition was to have all the
    > Sacraments of Initiation
    > together.

    sw: "Corruption" is a pretty strong word here. A difference in WHEN does not "corrupt" the Sacraments. You're continuing to disappoint me in buying into the polemic rhetoric of those who really don't want to see a reunification of the Orthodox and the West. Jesus explicitly stated that the Will of God is that we be ONE - just as He and the Father are one. Arguing over minor points and putting such a serious tome upon them is not working toward the ONE that He wills for us.

    > OrthoCath: After one was
    > Baptized, they would be receive
    > Chrism which confirmed or
    > completed the Sacrament.

    sw: Baptism and Confirmation are NOT the same Sacrament! I can see I need to demonstrate this a bit more clearly for you.

    > OrthoCath: Then they would next
    > receive the Eucharist. This was
    > for all (adults and infants) who
    > entered the Church. To say it's
    > just a "discipline" the Orthodox
    > have chosen is unacceptable.

    sw: "Unacceptable" is a polemic, and again it disappoints me to see you using such language. The Sacraments are quite intact in both rites - all SEVEN of them within their own rites.

    > OrthoCath: Orthodoxy has
    > retained the ancient tradition
    > of the undivided Church of not
    > separating the Sacraments of
    > Initiation for all who enter the
    > Church. Does it make Orthodoxy
    > "better"? On this subject I
    > would argue that it does as it
    > is always better to stay with
    > the tradition we've received
    > from the Fathers.

    sw: You're making this an issue of timing - not of validity of the Sacraments nor "appropriateness" of the reasons the West has opted for a different order. There ARE advantages for BOTH orders - and NEITHER are "bad" or "inappropriate." I certainly wish you would end the polemics and work toward charitable reunification of the two churches.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  22. How does Jurgens 'not help me'? Every commentator (including Beckwith!) acknowledges what Cyprian was describing as an evidence of infant Communion.

    I never said that Baptism and Confirmation were the same sacrament. What I said is that the norm in the first millennium was for both sacraments to be celebrated together (including the Eucharist). It is in that way that Chrismation confirms the sacrament of Baptism.

    I never said the Latin practice was "bad" or "inappropriate." I said on this subject, the Orthodox practice was better since it adheres closer to the practice of the Fathers. That doesn't make the Latin practice bad or inappropriate.

    As to whether the current Latin practice reflects a corruption of the early Church practice of keeping the Sacraments of Initiation together. Read Fisher's book referenced here. He's not the only one who's pointed this out. Fr. Taft and others have ably done so. It was this realization that led to the restoration of administering all 3 sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil in the Latin Rite after Vatican II.

    SW:I certainly wish you would end the polemics and work toward charitable reunification of the two churches.

    I don't see how I'm engaging in polemics. Catholic scholars (such as Fr. Taft) have said more than I have. I pray for reunification of our Churches daily.

    ReplyDelete
  23. OK, OC,
    I lept a bit too far perhaps in assuming "better" for EO meant "inappropriate" or "bad" for RC. Perhaps that is a carry-over from people in Orthodoxy with whom I've encountered in the past. I will try to watch that and be careful not to read too much into the words.

    Still, I would not consider the EO order and/or timing to be "better." Baptism as an infant, which both churches do, is a good thing, but I see much merit in training our youth to actually understand the Sacrament of Penance once they are learning right from wrong - and engage them in that Sacrament THEN Eucharist. Then again, as they mature, we introduce them into Confirmation and allow them to confirm their own baptismal vows through this Sacrament at around age 13, as they are transitioning from a child to a young adult.

    Now of course, if one is an adult convert then receiving the "Grand Slam" (Baptism, Confirmation, Confession and Eucharist) all at once makes perfect sense too - AND we expect a period of catechism PRIOR to the "Grand Slam."

    As for the "Triple Play" given to an infant (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), I can see where graces are received for the little "saints" among us - but I also see the danger of providing Eucharist to children who have not yet gone through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Penance) as they are reaching the "age of reason" and ARE knowing right from wrong. They would now be in a place of not only incurring sin, but of approaching the Eucharist unworthily - as St. Paul explicitly warns us against. How does Orthodoxy explain or account for that?

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for the clarification. :)

    As to the danger of little children approaching the Eucharist unworthily. At an appropriate age, children in Orthodox parishes are catechized about the Holy Mystery of Confession and begin receiving this Sacrament. This is similarly the practice now adopted in Eastern Catholic parishes (in union with Rome) which have restored infant Communion in the past 15 years.

    I'm assuming that this was also the practice in the early Church as children who received the Eucharist from infancy reached the age when they would be ready for this Sacrament.

    ReplyDelete
  25. OC,
    That was a bit vague, don't you think? Did you think that answer would satisfy? How about some more detail?

    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  26. Not sure what you mean by vague. Orthodox (and those Eastern Catholics who have restored infant Communion) feel that if it was good enough for the Fathers, it's good enough for us! :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. "sw: But could quite possibly mean a lot. Beckwith's assertion is as valid as your denial of it."

    Possibly, maybe, who knows? But the point is, you are not supposed to be a reconstructionist. There are tons of possible inferences we could draw from early writings. Are we now allowed to reconstruct the faith from all the maybes? Except that Rome doesn't really even have that defence, since they didn't make the change with even that reason.

    " And what has that to do with the price of rice in China?"

    The fallacy of assuming chronological order without warrant.

    "The difference you speak of is only in the discipline of WHEN someone may receive Eucharist, NOT in the fundamental FAITH behind the Eucharist."

    Given the prevalence of Catholic apologists citing John 6, "unless you eat my flesh you have no life in you", it seems to mean a lot to Catholics when there are points to be won. Or is that verse not to be taken too seriously?

    "Arguing over minor points and putting such a serious tome upon them is not working toward the ONE that He wills for us."

    If the point is only minor, why doesn't the West change back again to remove one point of contention? After all, when East and West were one, we agreed on this. Now we don't. The East didn't change.

    What I don't get is the West has it within its power to change all this stuff back to the 1st millennium practice, but it doesn't. Does the West really care about reunification or not?

    "I also see the danger of providing Eucharist to children who have not yet gone through the Sacrament of Reconciliation"

    So Orthodox practice is "dangerous" ?? That's pretty heavy criticism.

    ReplyDelete
  28. > OC: Not sure what you mean by
    > vague. Orthodox (and those Eastern
    > Catholics who have restored infant
    > Communion) feel that if it was
    > good enough for the Fathers, it's
    > good enough for us! :)


    sw: Older is not always better though. There are sound reasons for the Latin "order" and just because the Fathers did something, if it was as widespread as you represent it to be, doesn't make it a better way. In the Latin order and timing the various Sacraments happen at appropriate milestones in the life of a child. Naturally, an adult who has already passed these milestones would receive all those Sacraments at once - or could with proper catechesis.

    The long and the short of this debate on "order" and "timing" (which again was NOT my point HERE) is a matter of discipline which can be changed by either rite if/when they deem it necessary or appropriate. To make such an order or timing a matter of apologetics is, IMHO, scandalous and creates division where there need not be any.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  29. SW: The long and the short of this debate on "order" and "timing" (which again was NOT my point HERE) is a matter of discipline which can be changed by either rite if/when they deem it necessary or appropriate. To make such an order or timing a matter of apologetics is, IMHO, scandalous and creates division where there need not be any.

    DB: Again, this is not something I can agree with. I accept the tradition of infant Communion precisely because it is the tradition of the Fathers. It is not just some "discipline" that I think can be jettisoned should one want to do so. I don't make it a matter of "apologetics" other than to say that the normative tradition of the Fathers is that all 3 sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist) should be administered together and that all the baptized (infants and children included) are welcome at the Lord's Table.

    You may be comfortable in arguing against the tradition of the Fathers on this. I'm not.

    ReplyDelete
  30. OC:
    An early tradition of the Fathers was to include books like The Shepherd of Hermes and the Epistles of St. Clement as canonical Scriptures - should we go back to those traditions too?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Was that a tradition or just a viewpoint held here and there? There's a big difference between a tradition universally held and practiced and a position held by one person or a region.

    And, it's not just a matter of going back to a tradition. Besides having been the universal practice of the undivided Church (for a thousand years), it has continued to live on in the East.

    When you have time, read Fisher on the historical development on this issue. It's fascinating history.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Arianism was a fairly universally held tradition for a while too. If it's old and widely held doesn't make it automatically good. Again, I am not opposing the EO here, I'm just pointing out the fact that some things do change - and sometimes for good reason. The "order of Sacraments" and the "timing" thereof in the West was adopted or adapted for good reasons. Again, if the EO wants to do something "old" for the sake of "oldness" - and there's nothing intrinsically wrong with it - fine - but trying to make it sound like it's "better" just because it's an ancient practice isn't cutting it.

    I like the fact that infants are baptized - removing the stain and temporal punishment due to Original Sin. I like the fact that as children reach the "age of reason" they are taught why they need Confession prior to Eucharist, it's a good habit to be in. I like the fact that as they are transitioning from childhood to adulthood - Confirmation reinforces their faith and gives them an "extra push" to help them through some potentially troublesome years. These are very sound reasons for the "order of Sacraments" and their "timing" in the West. If the East chooses "the old way" for "oldness sake" then again, sobeit, but I would not promote it as a "better way" just because "it was good enough for the Fathers." Model T Fords were "good enough" for our great-grandparents too - but wouldn't hold a candle to an F-250 for hauling goods. As I said, some changes are for the "better."

    ReplyDelete
  33. Arianism was a temporary blip on the radar of the Church. True, it affected a few generations, but it did not last 1,200 years and affect the entire Church.

    You've noted (here and elsewhere) that you think the medieval Latin tradition of a delayed First Communion better a few times now. Can you cite one Father from the first millennium who advocated a delayed First Communion?

    ReplyDelete
  34. OC: Arianism was a temporary blip on the radar of the Church. True, it affected a few generations, but it did not last 1,200 years and affect the entire Church.
    Pretty much the entire Church was engulfed in Arianism - a few holdouts, St. Athanasius being perhaps the most notable, stood firm in the faith. The point is, it was an "old" tradition - and not a good one.

    OC: You've noted (here and elsewhere) that you think the medieval Latin tradition of a delayed First Communion (is) better a few times now. Can you cite one Father from the first millennium who advocated a delayed First Communion?

    I don't know that I can, and I haven't really tried as yet. You're missing the point though it seems - if it is a good move, I don't mind if it came about last year or if its been part of the Church for over a millennium - good is good.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  35. Well, I leave the challenge open to see if you can find one Father who supported the idea of a delayed First Communion for children after they'd been baptized in infancy.

    I don't believe I'm missing the point at all. As for me, I believe the testimony of the Fathers on this is normative.

    ReplyDelete
  36. The "normative" does not make it "better." That's my point.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete
  37. Have you been able to find one Father who supported the idea of a delayed First Communion for children after they'd been baptized in infancy?

    ReplyDelete
  38. I haven't been looking. It's not high on my priority list. Sorry. I don't believe we need to go back to something if what is in place has merit, especially if I believe that the current timing and order of the Sacraments of Initiation in the West serve well, even better, than the "restored order" and giving all those Sacraments at once to an infant. Certainly there is merit "the old way" - but IMHO there is MORE merit in the novo cedat ritui.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

    ReplyDelete

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