Some disturbing reflections on wafers


#1

On the way home from church today I talked with my dad about how in the old Catholic days, people were not allowed to chew the Body when it was in the mouth; and moreover how in John 6 the verb Jesus uses for “to eat” literally means “to chew.” .

My dad thought I was up to something, so he said somewhat in frustration, “Yeah, but you can’t really chew the wafer! It just dissoves in your mouth, like m & m’s. It’s unleaven bread, not leaven bread. It’s not like you get a wad of Italian bread to put in your mouth. It would makes sense to chew that but not a wafer” And then I started thinking: the Orthodox use leaven bread, so they can actually chew that, even if it is mixed with a little wine.

Maybe I’m going a little too far in my reasoning, but I thought that was a disturbing conclusion.

By the way, why do we use unleaven bread as opposed to leaven bread, especially when we cannot chew unleaven bread as Christ commands? What does it have to do with the traditional Passover bread?


#2

I’m in RCIA this year.

Last summer when I visited my parents, I went to the Methodist Church (of my youth).

They used Italian bread for the Communion service (Roma’s Bakery). I knew it was Roma’s Bakery because we had bought the same kind of bread at Roma’s Bakery just the day before. Real Italian bread. Endicott, New York is a small town (with a lot of Catholics too).

I was really confused when I heard the minister give a prayer of consecration. It seemed that the Methodist minister did not think “symbolic”.

Sometimes when I was much younger, in the Methodist Church we would also have communion with real bread. And with the real bread, the bread was usually first dipped into the cup.

What meant something to me was that the bread really was all from one loaf.

1 Corinthians 10:17 Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.


I am not complaining. It seems to me that a dish of wafers does not give us the same visual picture of partaking of one actual loaf.


#3

We use unleavened bread because that is what Jesus and the apostles used. Don’t forget, they were eating a Passover meal which called for unleavened bread. Read Exodus Chapter 12 for the Passover rituals. Verse 9 states unleavened bread.


#4

why do we use unleaven bread as opposed to leaven bread, especially when we cannot chew unleaven bread as Christ commands? What does it have to do with the traditional Passover bread?

Christ is our Passover (1cor5:7). His is the lamb of God. He is our sacred meal. This is a connection to Passover bread. If it is passover, there is no leaven time to be had, that is why they did not leaven the bread, because they were fleeing. They used to eat the meal in haste with their sandals and staff, ready to go.

A priest can confect the Eucharist with leavened bread. A latin rite priest is not supposed to do it, however.


#5

Where did you get the teaching that you weren’t supposed to chew it?

I’m just wondering.

Some Fathers (ie. Chrysostom, Augustine, probably more) spoke vividly of pressing Christ with our teeth. That sounds like chewing.


#6

In school, the nuns used to tell us not to chew the Host; to let it dissolve. This was in the 1960’s. When my own children made their First Communion, this wasn’t taught. But then neither was Communion on the tongue.


#7

Hi Madaglan,

The don’t chew rule was something spread by some of our more naive nuns of ancient days. It has no foundation.

Verbum


#8

[quote=Verbum]Hi Madaglan,

The don’t chew rule was something spread by some of our more naive nuns of ancient days. It has no foundation.
Verbum
[/quote]

Exactly right. That was never a rule of the Church.


#9

[quote=Verbum]Hi Madaglan,

The don’t chew rule was something spread by some of our more naive nuns of ancient days. It has no foundation.

Verbum
[/quote]

Yes, it has no theological foundation, but I don’t think we can presume they were naive. There may have other reasons they may have said this. For example, boys being boys, I can see how they might want to encourage First Communicants to recieve quietly and reverently and not making loud crunching noises.


#10

[quote=Fidelis]Yes, it has no theological foundation, but I don’t think we can presume they were naive. There may have other reasons they may have said this. For example, boys being boys, I can see how they might want to encourage First Communicants to recieve quietly and reverently and not making loud crunching noises.
[/quote]

They taught the girls the same way. I received my first Holy Communion in the 60s and I was told the same thing about letting the host melt in the mouth.

Maggie


#11

[quote=MaggieOH]They taught the girls the same way. I received my first Holy Communion in the 60s and I was told the same thing about letting the host melt in the mouth.

Maggie
[/quote]

:slight_smile: I didn’t mean to imply that girls couldn’t benefit from this as well. I only mentioned boys because they tend to be more rambunctious and fond of making noises --especially inappropriate ones (as a former boy and father of three boys, as well as giving talks to young kids, I know this from experience). Actually most CCD and other religious ed classes would be mixed, boys and girls.It would encourage overall reverence from both, I think.


#12

I’ve chewed unleavened bread a bunch of times. It may be less chewable than leavened bread, but it’s not unchewable.

As for the “don’t chew” rule, I think it reflects personal piety more than anything else.


#13

Letting it dissolve in your mouth, I don’t think, would be sinful. As long as it’s not done in direct and willful disobedience to Christ and the Apostles.

That’s the way I see it.

I think the "don’t chew it’ would be a good example of “traditions of men” that Christ would warn us to not hold as the “word of God.”

At least, if I were Catholic, that’s what I’d think.


#14

Yes, I think this was pretty much a "teaching nuns’ " tradition meant to encourage a spirit of devotion and piety. Maybe some of us just mistook the nuns’ lower-case tradition for Tradition.


#15

i chew my unleavened wafer every sunday - and many weekdays! :slight_smile: it’s definitely not unchewable.

such strange threads we have here… you’d think the church dealt with real problems and real issues if you didn’t know better!

(if you understood what i meant above, read no further. if i confused you, here’s my disclaimer: what i really mean, without sarcasm or irony, is that the church DOES deal with real people and real problems, and that’s why you see such a wide array of posts on multifarious subjects as ‘do we chew unleavened bread?’. i think it’s beautiful - and points to the reality of the church teaching real people about their lives. we will now return to our regular programming, already in progress)


#16

[quote=Madaglan]John 6 the verb Jesus uses for “to eat” literally means “to chew.” .

[/quote]

This word was used to explain to the apostles that Jesus REALLY wanted us to REALLY and TRUELY eat his Body. That’s why the word used meant ‘to chew or gnaw’. He didn’t use a more figurative form of ‘eat’ so as to convey the reality of having to eat His Body just like they had to eat the lamb at the Passover.


#17

[quote=JimG]Yes, I think this was pretty much a "teaching nuns’ " tradition meant to encourage a spirit of devotion and piety.
[/quote]

A spirit of DEVOTION and PIETY would fit quite well in this regard. I still follow this example. A couple of posters mention being taught in the 60’s, but I received the same instruction in 1939, and I believe my parents believed the same.

Maybe some of us just mistook the nuns’ lower-case tradition for Tradition.

I never gave Tradition the credit, just that it was proper.

Kotton :thumbsup:


#18

[quote=jmm08]They used Italian bread for the Communion service (Roma’s Bakery). I knew it was Roma’s Bakery because we had bought the same kind of bread at Roma’s Bakery just the day before. Real Italian bread. Endicott, New York is a small town (with a lot of Catholics too).
[/quote]

I’m from Endicott originally, and my mom worked at Roma’s when she was young. I can’t imagine Roma’s bread (which is awesome, by the way) being used in a Communion service. So different!


#19

I can’t bring myself to chew the host, I agree that it is a matter of personal piety.

Christ said ‘Take and eat’. The Greek word for eat is ‘trogho’ which means ‘chew’.


#20

[quote=moira]We use unleavened bread because that is what Jesus and the apostles used. Don’t forget, they were eating a Passover meal which called for unleavened bread. Read Exodus Chapter 12 for the Passover rituals. Verse 9 states unleavened bread.
[/quote]

Actually the Orthodox are not the only ones to use levaned bread, us Byzantine Catholics use it also.

In the synoptic Gospels the Last Supper is said to be a passover meal so that means that unlevaned bread would have been used.

But in the Gospel according to St John, the Last Supper is said to have occured before Passover, St John has Christ dieing at the same time that the lambs are slaughtered for the Passover Meal as Christ is our sacrifical Lamb for Passover. So that means if the Last Supper was not the Passover Meal that they would have used levaned bread.

Just a different view or focus, both are valid within their respective rites. That is to say levaned bread is invalid matter in the Mass and unlevaned bread is invalid matter in the Divine Liturgy.


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