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Why do Orthodox children take Holy Communion from the time they are baptised?

Why do Orthodox children take Holy Communion from the time they are baptised, while the Roman Catholics take it at the age of ten?

Actually, Orthodox children begin to receive Holy Communion only after baptism and chrismation. The Orthodox view is that baptism and chrismation not only free the person from the bondage of sin and evil, but grant the Holy Spirit to the new Christian and confer upon him or her lay status also. This means that the Christian is fully a member of the Body of Christ and therefore a full communicant in the sacramental life of the Church. Thus, infants who are baptized and chrismated are also expected to participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion and usually do so from the very day of their baptism. In the Roman Catholic practice, an infant baptized, then at seven to ten years old receives Holy Communion, and then is confirmed through the sacrament of chrismation. This practice dates to an encyclical of Pius X in 1910 which served to separate the three sacraments. It tends not to focus on the sacramental aspects, but rather to focus on the condition of the person. Today, much Roman Catholic opinion seeks to change the practice even more. The majority of Catholic scholars and theologians hold that baptism should remain an infant rite, in which the child passively receives the sacrament. First communion however, should be pushed back until the child is much older, so that it can understand the meaning of the Eucharist. This would, however, still be within the framework of the family. Confirmation would then become the personal affirmation of a young adult person, as an individual. The two views differ in that the Orthodox view emphasizes the sacramental order and practice of the early Church, while the Roman Catholic ideas described above emphasize the personality and maturity of the individual person.


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