since when did we use wafer for the eucharist?


#1

Hello!

Since when did we use wafer for the Eucharist? Didn't the early church used wheaten bread for communion? In 397, the Council of Carthage affirmed this use and even St Thomas Aquinas agrees with this so why did we change the form of the Eucharist?

Thank you very much!


#2

The Host is still wheaten bread pre-consecration, and retains the accidents of same thereafter. It's just a very specific and unusual form of wheaten bread.

I, too, am curious when we started using the round Hosts, but we must be careful not to confuse that with disobedience to the councils that mandated wheaten bread.

Usagi


#3

I found this at the "Ask A Franciscan" website. Remarkable how the question was dodged completely, I thought.

Q: When did the Catholic Church change from using bread and wine to wafers and wine in the Eucharist? Why the change?

A: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke present Jesus’ Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist as part of a Passover meal. The Jewish Passover has always used unleavened bread (Exodus 12:14-20).

The Roman Catholic Church has continued to follow this Jewish custom. Wafers are unmistakably unleavened bread.

By the 11th century, the Churches in the East were using leavened bread and they continue to do so. I think that all Protestant denominations have followed the custom of the Eastern Churches (the Orthodox and the Churches in full union with the Bishop of Rome).

Each year the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated during the annual meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Leavened bread is used at that Mass.


#4

[quote="IrishRush, post:3, topic:273292"]
I found this at the "Ask A Franciscan" website. Remarkable how the question was dodged completely, I thought.

[/quote]

Yeah, the answer doesn't get at the bit of history I think we all want to know (when we started the almost exclusive use of the familiar round, white, crunchy wafers/Hosts), but the question is also confusing and may be contributing to the problem. Like our OP, the questioner seems to be coming from the assumption that "the wafer" is something other than bread. It is bread, just a very basic flour-and-water flatbread. The respondent got hung up on unleavened bread vs. the leavened bread we eat more commonly in daily life, and did not address anything about the actual introduction of the modern communion Host recipe and shape.

If the common understanding that the Last Supper was a Passover Seder is correct, Jesus would also have been using unleavened bread at the first consecration. It likely wouldn't have been in the form of individual round wafers, but it may well have been a large round piece (like a pita or tortilla) that was broken/torn into individual pieces, like the large Host at Mass.

If you have any grocery stores that carry packaged matzo in the kosher food section, take a look. I don't know that the modern, store-bought version is like what Jesus used, but it's basically a large rectangular cracker. So, flat and crunchy, like our Hosts, and not much like a loaf of leavened bread, if that's what the OP and the questioner on the Franciscan site are thinking of when they say we don't use "bread." Matzo is a lot tastier than our sadly flavorless Hosts, though, and I wish we could take some tips from our Jewish friends while remaining within canon law.

Usagi


#5

right, have had a look around the net to see what I could find out.
There's loads of weird stuff out there but this excerpt here makes the most sence.

A thin circular disk of unleavened bread used in the celebration of the eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church and in many Anglican churches. The wafer derives its form from the fact that the bread of the Jews was ordinarily in this shape; and both the ancient pictured representations and the references in the early patristic literature confirm the opinion that this was the form in use in the church from the apostolic days. Wafers are usually stamped with the form of a cross, crucifix, or Agnus Dei, with the initials I. H. S., or sometimes with a monogram representing the name of Christ. See altar-bread, and oblate, n., 2.

taken from this web page: wordnik.com/words/wafer

aparently the round thin host type bread was made way back even before Christ. The idea of it being a bloodless offering. Aparently the vestal virgins in Rome made a sacred bread which was very close to the host used by the Church.

Here's a link on that story : novaroma.org/nr/Mola_salsa

PLEASE understand I am NOT saying that the Church uses pagan bread, the second link was to show that the making of that kind of bread was aparently quite common, and was seen to be used as a type of alter or sacred bread.

Hope this gives some light as to the history of the round wafer shaped bread and how it came about and why.


#6

The hosts began to regularly be used in the 9th-10th Century.


#7

I think it makes most sense because we don't have to break it apart and so there is a much lower risk of Eucharistic profanation.


#8

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:7, topic:273292"]
I think it makes most sense because we don't have to break it apart and so there is a much lower risk of Eucharistic profanation.

[/quote]

I don't think in any tradition the bread is broken apart as part of the rubrics after the consecration, except for what is used for the Fraction Rite. Even in the Byzantine Rite, the loaves are cut down to small pieces even prior to the start of the Divine Liturgy. So any crumbs from the cutting are still just bread crumbs.


#9

Guys, thank you so much for your answers!:slight_smile:

So basically, we still use wheaten bread. Ok so that’s new info for me. Honestly, I don’t know what the host is composed of but I know its made of flour. I never thought its wheat though because I’ve never seen wheat bread as white in color. Thank you, Usagi! :thumbsup:

I actually posted this question because of the accusation that the Living Church of God hurls against the Catholic Church. Its just one of many but they say that we strayed away from the original teachings of Christ and the apostles when we used the round, flat, and white wafer host instead of the round wheaten loaf used in the days of Jesus Christ and the early church. This round host, they say, was used by the Egyptian occultists who serve the sun-god Osiris who, in turn, becomes present in the host. I find that preposterous of course but it made me wonder when the Catholic Church actually started using the wafer for the Eucharist. In the Catholic Encyclopedia under the item HOST it says that the first Christians used the bread that served as food and that a preserved loaf discovered in a bakery oven at Pompeii measured about seven inches in diameter and was creased with seven ridges which facilitated the breaking of the loaf without the aid of a knife. Now, if this is true, then we have drastically changed the original form of the Eucharist from a big round wheaten loaf to a flat, white and round bread in contradiction to the one approved and recognized by the Council of Carthage in 397 AD.

joannm, thanks for your answer but could you please lead me to your resources on that?

YoungTradCath, your answer was what came to my mind early on. Thank you.


#10

It is made of wheat flour and water.


#11

[quote="Usagi, post:4, topic:273292"]
If you have any grocery stores that carry packaged matzo in the kosher food section, take a look. I don't know that the modern, store-bought version is like what Jesus used, but it's basically a large rectangular cracker. So, flat and crunchy, like our Hosts, and not much like a loaf of leavened bread, if that's what the OP and the questioner on the Franciscan site are thinking of when they say we don't use "bread." Matzo is a lot tastier than our sadly flavorless Hosts, though, and I wish we could take some tips from our Jewish friends while remaining within canon law.

[/quote]

Actually, it would most likely not have been like the crisp matzah commonly used by Ashkenazi Jews.

In the tradition of the Syrian and other Middle Eastern (Mizrahi) Jews, matzah (or massa) is actually fairly thin but is quite pliable when freshly made, and will stay that way for a few hours after baking before it starts to dry out.


#12

[quote="kingsan, post:9, topic:273292"]
Guys, thank you so much for your answers!:)

.

joannm, thanks for your answer but could you please lead me to your resources on that?

YoungTradCath, your answer was what came to my mind early on. Thank you.

[/quote]

While I had learned of the dating of the use of hosts from a number of different sources the best descrition of the shift comes from Fr. Ed Foley, a Capuchin priests who is a scholar of liturgical history. He explains it in his book From Age to Age:How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist. He said part of the reason was the shift from leavened to unleavened bread, the increase in the numbr of private Masses and the reduced number of communicants. Also the practice of putting the Sacrament of the tongue instead of in the hand, which also came about around the 9th Century.


#13

I thought the Eucharist was always unleaven bread. :confused:


#14

[quote="Joannm, post:12, topic:273292"]
While I had learned of the dating of the use of hosts from a number of different sources the best descrition of the shift comes from Fr. Ed Foley, a Capuchin priests who is a scholar of liturgical history. He explains it in his book From Age to Age:How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist. He said part of the reason was the shift from leavened to unleavened bread, the increase in the numbr of private Masses and the reduced number of communicants. Also the practice of putting the Sacrament of the tongue instead of in the hand, which also came about around the 9th Century.

[/quote]

It sounds then that they made it with a certain circumference and thin just for communion on the tongue, even for intinction. The design doesn't make that much difference for the "in the hand." Just saying.


#15

[quote="figs, post:13, topic:273292"]
I thought the Eucharist was always unleaven bread. :confused:

[/quote]

No it wasn't. Not even in the Latin Church.


#16

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:15, topic:273292"]
No it wasn't. Not even in the Latin Church.

[/quote]

The best evidence, though, is that Christ used unleavened bread (see, e.g., Mt. 26:17: "And on the first day of the Azymes ..."), that unleavened bread was originally used throughout the entire Church, that over the next couple of centuries the use of leavened bread gradually spread, and the the eastern portions of the Church simply never reverted to the older practice.


#17

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:15, topic:273292"]
No it wasn't. Not even in the Latin Church.

[/quote]

Ok, help me understand, please.
The first communion (last supper) was with unleaven bread (passover meal)
when did it change to leaven bread?


#18

[quote="MarkThompson, post:16, topic:273292"]
The best evidence, though, is that Christ used unleavened bread (see, e.g., Mt. 26:17: "And on the first day of the Azymes ..."), that unleavened bread was originally used throughout the entire Church, that over the next couple of centuries the use of leavened bread gradually spread, and the the eastern portions of the Church simply never reverted to the older practice.

[/quote]

What we can find is that leavened has always been used. It is possible that there is an indifference with the use of leavened or unleavened in the first few centuries of the Church. Perhaps the Apostles were simply instructed to use bread, and they saw the use of unleavened bread during the Last Supper as incidental rather than a Sacramental necessity.

[quote="figs, post:17, topic:273292"]
Ok, help me understand, please.
The first communion (last supper) was with unleaven bread (passover meal)
when did it change to leaven bread?

[/quote]

On the contrary, evidence is that the Churches used leavened bread early on and it changed to unleavened for some later on. One theory is that the Apostles and Early Church Fathers used bread, regardless if its leavened or unleavened.

Remember that the Apostles were commanded by Christ to travel light, bring nothing. They lived off the communities they visited. So they would not have brought supplies of bread with them for the Commemoration, but rather will use whatever bread is available at the town/city they visit. I'm not sure what the availability of leavened vs. unleavened at that time in various cities around the Mediterranean but its quite possible that leavened bread may just be more available in some locations than in others.


#19

Not wanting to be arumentative (honestly) but it's going to appear that way, sorry.

I find it hard to imagine that early on they would have used leaven bread.

Christ was a devout Jew the meal he shared was a passover meal. Hebrew law was the bread was unleaven for passover. That much we can see in the Bible itself.

I mean based on the logic you exclaimed, the early Church could have used grape juice (or some other liquid) instead of wine. It doesn't make sense that they wouldn't be very particular to follow Christ's example.


#20

[quote="figs, post:19, topic:273292"]
Not wanting to be arumentative (honestly) but it's going to appear that way, sorry.

I find it hard to imagine that early on they would have used leaven bread.

Christ was a devout Jew the meal he shared was a passover meal. Hebrew law was the bread was unleaven for passover. That much we can see in the Bible itself.

I mean based on the logic you exclaimed, the early Church could have used grape juice (or some other liquid) instead of wine. It doesn't make sense that they wouldn't be very particular to follow Christ's example.

[/quote]

Except that grape juice did not exist in the First Century, not sure about other forms of wine.

Anyway, if you will be insistent that is must be only unleavened bread, then you have went against the Church herself, who said that leavened bread is in fact valid matter. You would have gone against the early Latin Church who also used leavened bread for a time.

I mean, you're right, whats the argument here? These are historical facts (regarding the use of leavened bread). How it came about to be, we don't know.

Oh, and before you point to Scripture as proof of what bread was used in the early Church, note that the Bible did not exist for another couple hundred of years. Fact is out of tradition we have Churches using leavened bread from the beginning. I don't know how do we argue against that.


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