Priest breaks bread when handing it out

Hi everyone.

I have noticed that one of the priest serving in a protestant church I sometimes visit breaks the small hosts in two when handing them out during Communion, while saying “The body of Christ, broken for you”. I’ve never seen this done before, and I’m curious if anyone knows if this is some tradition that I’m not aware of?

I know that during the fraction, the breaking of the bread is a symbol of how we all united in Christ by recieving Communion from one bread, but I don’t see the point of doing this again when distributing the hosts.

This particular church follows the same Eucharist ritual as the Lutheran church I was brought up in, so I feel very familiar with it, except for this practice.

I have no clue what the practices of the various Protestant groups are. In the Latin rites of the Catholic Church, a host (one of the small pieces of consecrated bread, at this point now the Body of Christ) is broken over the paten and a small piece is dropped into the chalice; this is called the commingling rite and symbolizes the consummation of the world to God when Jesus died. Even though the priest says, “He broke the bread, blessed it and gave it to His disciples, saying…” at the consecration, this commingling rite does not happen until right before the distribution of Holy Communion; it does not happen at the consecration.

Secondly, if there are not enough hosts to distribute at Holy Communion, those remaining may be broken into as many parts as necessary for everyone present to receive. Each little crumb contains the whole of Jesus’ substance. That is, a half a host is not half a Jesus. It is the same as a whole host.

Those are the only two times when Catholic priests celebrating in one of the Latin rites will break hosts. I have no idea about the Eastern rites.

I have never seen that exact practice. But when I was at college, the monks made their own bread for communion. As such it was not the flat, dry, communion wafer normally used. In order to pass it out for communion the priests and monks must tear it as the faithful come forward to receive, because the wafer’s are the size of plates.

(To be sure, I was never very fond of this practice, as it would cause crumbs everywhere, and the bread definitely had additives in it).

The words “broken for you” seem rather strange, and are not part of what the priest is supposed to say. However, I don’t think that makes it illicit.

However, breaking the hosts before giving them is perfectly all right, in the case that there are not enough hosts for the entire congregation. The tiniest particle of a host is fully Christ, so breaking larger pieces into smaller ones enables the priest to have enough for everyone.

He is talking about Protestants, not Catholics.

Oops, I read too fast. :wink:

With all due respect, Christ is not present in the Lutheran Communion service, because only a validly ordained priest has the power and authority to confect the Sacrament ( make Christ present ). A validly ordained priest is one who has been ordained by a Bishop in undisupted Apostolic Succession from Peter. This succession ended in the Lutheran ministry not too many years after Martin Luther broke from the Catholic Church.

There were other validly ordained priests who followed him, perhaps even Bishops. But that
was hundreds of years ago, so that line of validity has died out. Although, I am sure there is some validly ordained minister somewhere in your persuasion who left the Catholic Church or perhaps a validly ordained priest from another group like the " Old Catholics " or other " Catholic " groups not in union with Rome.

In this case the Consecration Rite would be valid but illicit. :thumbsup:

Sounds like a local custom, as in that church, with the minister trying to “add a little extra meaning” to the communion. eh. It is what it is.

  • From Christ, not Peter.

Yes, I realize that I’m asking a question about a Lutheran Communion, so I understand that you might not be familiar with what is or what is not standard procedure in our churches. I was only curious if this particular practice had any roots in the Eastern rites. I guess this particular practice is only a local tradition then. Thanks!

It could be simply that not enough wafer been put out or a deliberately act in saying broken for you… as previously mentioned. hope it not a money saving exercise though :blush:

Yes, if he was breaking it because they were running short I wouldn’t be surprised, but he was breaking it in two and putting both pieces in people’s hands. I had never seen that being done before.

I have never seen it either. Could be significant in then that the message about it being ‘broken for you’ I will have to listen on sunday and hear if that is said for us at any point. We hear things so often that don’t know if it is in or not especially if it in a part we don’t actually respond as such. I will listen carefully if I remember to and hear what he says at consecration or some point? But a nice touch for those who have difficulties in believing it is broken for you… I think


With all due respect, what does the Catholic Church’s opinion of the Lutheran Communion service have to do with the OP? He/She seemed to simply be asking if members other denominations had also experienced the practice he/she observed.

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The statement is rather an allusion to 1 Corinthians 11:24. In the DRC, it does not show, but it does in the New American Bible and many other translations.

We either get ‘The body of Christ’ or the rather absurd, ’ The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving.’

I’ve had, ’ The body of Christ, broken for you’ only once, and that was at s Cathedral.

Breaking of the Host is Calvinist/Reformed tradition. When King Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, who was a Calvinist, tried to form the Prussian Union of the Calvinist and Lutherans into one Church. The liturgy was mostly Calvinist, and the Calvinist would break the Host to show that Christ Body was not in the bread but confined to heaven and that it was only a spiritual presence of Christ in Holy Communion. The King ordered the Lutheran pastors to break the bread. Lutheran pastors who would not conform were put in jail and congregrations who would not conform were closed down.
The Prussian Union is still alive in Germany in the form of Union Churches. This revolt of Lutheran churches eventually led to Germans coming to this country to form the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

HN, thanks for the Lutheran history. Curiously, the only time, in the ELCA, that I have heard the term “broken for you” used was by a supply pastor who had also been an LC-MS pastor long enough to be collecting a pension from them.

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