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What do you do when a small child comes up for Communion?

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA
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I was a little flabbergasted to read this on a friend’s Facebook page:

For the fourth Sunday in a row, my daughter has been denied communion. In fact, since her first Holy Communion in May, she has only been offered the Eucharist at Sunday Mass twice.

My daughter used to adore Mass. Sundays were her favorite day of the week because she got to see Jesus.

Now she hates Sundays and begs to skip Mass, because she’s convinced that she’s being denied communion because she’s bad.

Priests and deacons, it is such a simple thing to simply ask a child if he or she has received their first communion. If they look too young to you, just ask. Please. The wounds you inflict upon a child by denying her communion because you think she is too young are real.

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes.

If you have any doubts, ask. 

Priests, deacons, EMHCs, take note: If you see a child come up for Communion who looks too small or too young to receive, it doesn’t take much effort to look up at the parent and ask, with a smile, “She’s so tiny! Has she received her First Communion?” Or if the child is alone, “Do you know how to receive communion?” or “Have you received your First Communion?” I’ve always gotten a straightforward answer. And I’ve never had a child or a parent try to pull a fast one and lie to me in the Communion line—at least, not that I could tell. (And if they did lie while waiting to receive Communion, Someone Else will have to set them straight.)

Most children have been taught the right way to approach for Communion. But if a young child seems uncomfortable or awkward, or just too young, once again: just ask.

Embarrassing and hurtful moments like the one above really shouldn’t happen.

Deacon Greg Kandra
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Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. For nearly three decades, he was a writer and producer for CBS News, where he contributed to a variety of programs and was honored with every major award in broadcasting. Deacon Greg now serves as Multimedia Editor for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA.) He and his wife live in Forest Hills, New York.
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