Seriously concerned about little one first communion - wine. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 04:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#2 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 05:09 AM
 
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My 2 y/o child (Episcopalian, and all baptized receive) has been taking communion in both parts (bread and wine) his entire life.  The amount imbibed (sipped) during communion is minimal and I have never worried about the alcohol content of the tiny sip he gets.  I figure less than 2mls of watered down wine, once a week is certainly not going to hurt him.  As far as any concern that he'd develop a taste for alcohol based on that amount and frequency--it's TERRIBLE wine.  I've yet to attend a church where the wine is actually any good!  Further, I don't think the wine that is drunk socially at dinner or at gatherings carries any resemblance to the way and how of communion wine.  Just as the communion wafer (in churches that use wafers rather than loaves of bread) bears little to no resemblance to what you'd use to make a sandwich.

 

Now, not everyone receives both the bread and wine--communion in part is considered adequate in church teaching and tradition.  In fact, this is part of the why in the fact that the desire to receive communion in cases where that is impossible (eg inability to swallow in a dying believer) is considered adequate.  In fact, historically (and I am sure, currently in some) in many Roman Catholic churches, the custom has been that the laity only receive the bread and it is only the priest who takes the wine.  It is perfectly acceptable for a parent, at his or her discretion, to only allow their child to partake of the bread.  

 

As for the legal aspects...this is not a concern of mine, altho' I am not aware of the specifics of the law in regards to exemptions for religious services (altho' I do know those exemptions exist).  


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#3 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 05:32 AM
 
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http://abagond.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/kohlbergs-stages-of-moral-development/

 

Kohlbert's stages of morality.

 

Living life only by the laws of the land is stage 4 of 6. My theory: laws change. That does not make the behaviour they regulate inharently right or wrong. If you were living in Germany during the holocaust, it would be illegal to help a Jew. That behaviour in and of isself is not wrong; it's the law that made it wrong. During prohibition it was illegal for anyone to drink. Again, that's legislation dictating that that behaviour is wrong, not the behaviour itself.

 

Laws are confined to a specific space and time. I don't think that necessarily makes the behaviour they govern wrong and soemtimes you have to choose for yourself regardless what local laws say.

 

If the behaviour makes you uncomfortable, fine; follow your heart. If it's solely the legality holding you back, nuts to it, and take in the body of christ without shame or concern for local legislation.


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#4 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 05:34 AM
 
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P.S. We had wine in our church growing up, and I drank it as a child, but many of my friends' had grape juice. ....why IS there a difference?

 

I choose not to take communion when I attend church these days, but I would have no problem letting my kids if that's were something we did or something they chose.


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#5 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#6 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 10:41 AM
 
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I too am Episcopalian rather than Roman Catholic, so I may not have the same theology.  But I will say that my children have received both bread & wine since they could toddle to the communion rail and I don't have a problem with it.  But I do know that you aren't "required" to take both parts and for a while my son refused the wine because he just didn't like the taste.  Not a big deal either way and up to them.

 

One of the images I treasure most is when my 2 YO DD was at the rail and the (visiting) priest skipped by her.  She reached up, tugged on his cassock, put her hands out and said, "I am a child of God too please."  He was suitably embarrassed at having skipped her and I was very happy with her understanding of the sacrament.

 

I think there are two things here -- the first is how you feel about communion and religion overall.  From the religion standpoint, if this troubles you then I would have a conversation with your priest.  He should be able to give you a better understanding of the theology behind it and the options your family has.  For us, participating in communion is part of being Christian and part of the the family of Christ and that is more important than any potential harm that might come from that sip of wine.

 

In terms of wine as an alcoholic beverage, that's a really personal choice.  I frankly don't have a problem with demonstrating to my children the "proper" way to drink wine, both in a social occasion and within the religious rites.  I drink a glass of wine each day with dinner.  And I will be just fine with my teens (when they get there) doing the same.  I want them to understand wine, in moderation, as a pleasant part of life.  Part of enjoying and appreciating God's creation, just like good food, sunshine, and tigers (to name a few of my favorite things...)  I do not drive myself nuts over eliminating all possible harmful substances from their lives.  Big huge things like driving without a carseat I am a stickler on.  The occasional McDonalds meal or sip of communion wine doesn't bother me.  Overall we ave a pretty healthy approach to the world, but its much more forgiving than many here.  While I don't know for sure from a scientific standpoint, I would bet that the pollution they inhale on the way to church kills more cells than the sip of communion wine they take during church. 

 

And if "all things are possible with God", then who is to say that the communion wine isn't perfectly safe and harmless?  And if it has been transubstantiated into the blood of Christ, isn't it no longer wine anyway? 

 

It all comes down to what you are comfortable with and what your family's priorities are.  If you aren't comfortable with it, then don't have your child receive it.

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#7 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 10:55 AM
 
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I think it would be totally appropriate to just tell your child that they can't have wine at communion until they're older.  A lot of people skip the wine just for sanitation purposes alone.  Hundreds of people drinking from the same cup = gross.

 

I was raised catholic.  As a child, I remember taking a big swig of wine at communion and liking the light headed feeling I would get.  No thoughts of Jesus' holy blood were certainly crossing my mind.  I remember feeling very grown up, but never holy.  My first communion was all about the dress for me.  I was 8 and really didn't have a clue what communion represented despite my years of catechism. 

 

If this is really bothering you, maybe you could talk with your priest.  I totally understand your point of view though.
 


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#8 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 11:05 AM
 
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A couple of thoughts and they aren't that well organized to please bear with me.

 

1. My child is not drinking wine, my child child is drinking the Blood of Christ. I am Catholic and we believe in transubstantiation.

2. They really get very little wine. I do not believe that an amount that barely wets the lips of watered down wine once a week is harmful.

3. I actually don't believe that alcohol is purely bad for you. Numerous studies have show benefits to moderate drinking. We are not talking about excessive alcohol use.

4. I don't believe that occasional alcohol use leads to alcohol abuse. I actually believe the opposite. Occasional, moderate, and responsible drinking being taught and modeled is good for kids and I believe less likely to lead to them viewing alcohol as something that's sole use is intoxication. Alcohol can serve many function in society besides as a substance to get bombed on. In this case it is something we share as part of our tradition, worship, and ceremony.

5. In my faith you have received the fullness of Christ in either form and many parents do choose for their kids to refrain from receiving the blood/wine. However, in our family we all receive wine. My husband probably should not receive the Body as he is allergic to wheat, thereby making the Blood more precious to all of us. Being able to participate in in Mass fully as a family and as a faith community of believers is important to us. The grief my husband and I both felt when he was refraining from communion while trying to sort out this challenge to his health was difficult for both our family and our faith. We choose not to leave our children on the outside of sharing whatever parts of the blessed sacrament they choose to with us.

6. Though my husband does still receive the Body when he is moved in his faith to do so (see number 1). We also believe that God would not command us to do something that would harm us. We put our faith in the Lord and follow his word.

7. My child is more than welcome to have a healthy gulp of my wine at home if he is purely interested in how the wine tastes or makes him feel. At 9 I'm not going to let him have a whole glass or anything. But I don't think he needs to drink wine at communion purely to satisfy his curiosity.


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#9 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 11:28 AM
 
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You should know that fruit juice and fruits in general also contain extremely small amounts of alcohol.
 


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#10 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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No shame no blame.  I think you've made up your mind for your own family--and that's a-okay.  Why don't you have this chat with your clergy?


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#11 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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Are you arguing against the Catholic church in particular or against any wine at communion?

 

First, there is good research to show that children who drink wine as part of a religious ceremony are no more likely to have alcohol problems than children who don't. Children do understand the ceremonial nature of the wine, for the most part. Thus, allowing a child a sip of wine once a week is not like giving a child a cigarette. It's just not. Taking part in a religious ceremony is not starting your child on a slippery slope toward alcohol abuse.

 

Second, where's your evidence that "any amount of alcohol is actually harmful"? For adults, a little bit of alcohol can be beneficial for health. Yes, if you soak cells in alcohol, they'll die. But the human body is made to digest food, including alcohol. Yes, OVERDOSES of alcohol can harm your brain, but we're not talking about an 8 year old chugging a bottle of wine here. We're talking a sip of somewhat watered down wine. (Or in our church's case, a dip of the bread into the wine.)

 

You're right that the Gospels don't say anything about wine for children. But under your logic, women weren't there either and so shouldn't be taking communion. Once again, Communion is a symbolic act meant to remind the faithful of the last supper. The Gospels don't say anything about that. They also don't say anything about much of daily life. That's not their purpose. Churches do differ as to when they think children are ready for communion. I my husband's church, he was 14. I was raised Catholic and communed at 7. My kids are ELCA Lutheran and started taking communion at 3-4. For us, they don't have to understand the "bread into body part" they are being included in an important part of the church ritual. They are invited to eat at the table along with everyone else. If you have trouble with the Catholic church's policy on communion and are a practicing Catholic, then talk to your priest.

 

In terms of traditions serving children alcohol -- as you noted, until the advent of modern water sanitation, it was common place for children, as well as adults, to drink alcohol. So when the church traditions were set into place, it was perfectly normal to have children drinking wine. It would have seemed absurd to do anything else. In many places, it was the only source of relatively clean fluid. The wine/beer was watered down, but it was still served to children once they weaned. In fact, in terms of tradition, the US tradition of making children strict teetotalers is relatively new. And if statistics are anything to go by, not all that helpful. The US has the second highest rate of alcoholism in the world.

 

Children CAN understand the ceremonial nature of wine. If children are really gulping wine, then it's a failure of education/monitoring of the sacraments. That's an issue for your religious education. They are not respecting the sacraments. This, in my opinion, is a greater issue than the drinking of wine.

 

Do you know who is, statistically speaking, more likely to have drinking problems? People who, as children, never saw drinking in moderation. This includes both children of alcoholics and children of teetotalers. In that way, modeling drinking a small sip of wine every week at church is likely to help, rather than hurt.

 

It's pretty clear from your posts that you have major issues around alcohol. Alcohol itself is neither moral nor immoral. It's the use we make of it. Children can be taught proper use of tools and food, and yes, wine.


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#12 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 12:01 PM
 
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I didn't read the whole thread, because it is not a requirements in any of the Roman Catholic churches I have attended. I was raised Byzantine Catholic,where the bread and wine were combined. I could tell you how I survived, but that's beside the point. If you feel that wine for children is unacceptable, then ask for an alternative or tell your child to skip it.
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#13 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 12:37 PM
 
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Why prepare your child for first communion if it is against what you believe?

 

If you really have questions about the nature of the sacrament, please talk to your priest. If you don't want to have your child participate, don't. If you want your child to participate, but don't want to deal with the wine, after first communion, anyone can opt to just receive one species (bread or wine). Again, talk to your priest.

 

Are you actually worried about the health effects of a communion sip of wine? Or is it just that the idea is distasteful to you?  Do you receive?

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#14 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 01:00 PM
 
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There are many religions, denominations, and churches. The church I grew up in used grape juice for communion for adults and kids.

This seems like a question for you religious leader, not a parenting board.

We don't go to church, but we've allowed our children small amounts of alcohol in certain context. My husband is from another culture and we are more like his culture in this respect, mostly because of seeing how teens / young adults act around alcohol based on their patents attitudes. The very worse behavior we've seen is from kids with extremely controlling parents when they finally get freedom.

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#15 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 01:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post
My husband probably should not receive the Body as he is allergic to wheat, thereby making the Blood more precious to all of us.

 

Totally off topic, but they do make rice wafers for communion.  You should ask your priest to have them available.

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#16 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 02:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post

 

Totally off topic, but they do make rice wafers for communion.  You should ask your priest to have them available.

Actually the Catholic Church does not allow the rice wafers. They do allow a gluten free wafer made with wheat starch. However, since my husband is allergic to wheat, not gluten intolerant it doesn't really help us. However, thank you for the suggestion. One of the struggles with our faith and the Eucharist has been our Church's decision to disallow the rice wafers.


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#17 of 18 Old 08-30-2012, 08:13 PM
 
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This is just absurd. I am not Catholic, or even Christian for that matter but it is just completely false that a small amount of alcohol = a small amount of damage. That's just not how it works. There are a vast many substances that are harmful but when diluted to a certain point have no affect on our health. Absolutely every substance is harmful in excess including water. Does a little water = little damage done? absolutely not but in certain quantities it will kill you. When you dilute alcohol down to a certain point it absolutely does not do any damage. I just gave my kid a cinnamon roll covered with a glaze containing 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract which contains alcohol. In that entire cinnamon roll there were trace amounts of alcohol, I can assure you the amount of alcohol in that cinnamon roll did no damage to her health (now the sugar, white flour, etc... whistling.gif).

 

Anyway, my point was everything in excess is bad and usually deadly (remember, water included) but obviously certain amounts are harmless or even healthy.

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#18 of 18 Old 08-31-2012, 02:27 PM
 
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Actually the Catholic Church does not allow the rice wafers. They do allow a gluten free wafer made with wheat starch. However, since my husband is allergic to wheat, not gluten intolerant it doesn't really help us. However, thank you for the suggestion. One of the struggles with our faith and the Eucharist has been our Church's decision to disallow the rice wafers.

 

Oh, I'm sorry -- I didn't know that.  Our (Episcopal) Church always has a small number of rice wafers in a special holder for those with a wheat or gluten allergy.

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