I was contacted by a journalist writing an article for a Catholic magazine about special needs children and the sacraments. She is looking for input from Catholics with special needs children, or those who work with our children in religious instruction. If you have something to say on this subject contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
It's certainly not the first time I had considered the subject, in fact, at six, Christina is nearing the age when her older sisters received the sacrament. However, this subject is a cause for anxiety for me, and so, whenever this subject would surface I buried the thought for later.
I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to deal with this subject at last. Tonight I broached it with Fr Tito, my wonderful new pastor. In his gentle manner, he said that even non-verbal children can be tested for their ability to distinguish the Holy Eucharist from ordinary bread, and was searching for an example of how Mother Teresa performed this test. If you know what he is referring to, please let me know.
Meanwhile, here is an article on the subject.
The catechist manual used in the Kennedy program quotes from Catechesi Tradendae by Pope John Paul II: "...the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right...from the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely by reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life...In the case of many people with disabilities...we must...make those liturgical adaptations which promote their active participation and provide help and services that reflect our loving concern."
What a relief speaking to my pastor and reading this article has been! I know Christina has on two occasions (see this and this post)recognized Jesus in the Sacrament, but is she ready to distinguish between the Host and ordinary bread? Not yet, perhaps but someday. I look forward to that day with all my heart. Just yesterday while receiving Holy Communion at the altar rail, with Christina beside me, I sensed that she was hurt for being excluded. The Holy Eucharist is the center of my life, and I long to share it with my precious daughter. She has already taught me so much about the Christian life, to be able to approach the altar together will be a joy like no other. Of course, we will post about the preparation process, little by little as we did about potty training. My objective is to encourage other mothers as we raise our special children.
Read the entire piece here from St Anthony Messenger.