Quam Singulari 1-3: Care For Children

Liam is right. The 1905 document Sacra Tridentina and the one we will begin to examine with this post, Quam Singulari, will likely outstrip the First Vatican Council in terms of impact and importance on the liturgical and spiritual life of the Catholic Church. This document we begin today was a “Decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Discipline of the Sacraments on First Communion,” and was promulgated on 8 August 1910.

Like the document we just finished, the curia takes some time (twenty short paragraphs) to set up a list of eight rules. We’ll take two weeks at most on QS, and start with the Scriptural and patristic background:

The pages of the Gospel show clearly how special was that love for children which Christ showed while He was on earth. It was His delight to be in their midst; He was wont to lay His hands on them; He embraced them; and He blessed them. At the same time He was not pleased when they would be driven away by the disciples, whom He rebuked gravely with these words: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for of such is the kingdom of God.” It is clearly seen how highly He held their innocence and the open simplicity of their souls on that occasion when He called a little child to Him and said to the disciples: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven….And whoever receives one such little child for my sake, receives me.”

The Catholic Church, bearing this in mind, took care even from the beginning to bring the little ones to Christ through Eucharistic Communion, which was administered even to nursing infants. This, as was prescribed in almost all ancient Ritual books, was done at Baptism until the thirteenth century, and this custom prevailed in some places even later. It is still found in the Greek and Oriental Churches. But to remove the danger that infants might eject the Consecrated Host, the custom obtained from the beginning of administering the Eucharist to them under the species of wine only.

Infants, however, not only at the time of Baptism, but also frequently thereafter were admitted to the sacred repast. In some churches it was the custom to give the Eucharist to the children immediately after the clergy; in others, the small fragments which remained after the Communion of the adults were given to the children.

The history is undeniable. As is the witness of the East. From the start of QS, the pastoral care of children is placed at the forefront of consideration. Anything you see in these first paragraphs?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Quam Singulari 1-3: Care For Children

  1. Liam says:

    I find the reference to fragments interesting. I wonder if there was ever any allegorical connection made post hoc to the fragments from the miracles of the loaves.

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