Why not the use of barley bread in eucharist host -- considering John 6:9-13


#1

So I understand that the standard element in the host MUST be wheat bread, or low-gluten. For example, from the UCCB website:

usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/resources-for-the-eucharist/bread-for-the-mass.cfm

The Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum describes how "the bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition. It follows therefore that bread made from other substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.

And yet, in John 6:9-13, which is right before Jesus’ sermon on him being “the bread of life” – the first words where we see Jesus talking about eating his flesh, drinking his blood — the feeding of the 5,000 is done with **barley bread. **

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”*

Surely, there is a biblical and historical precedence for at least the use of barley bread, isn’t there? Considering those who have celiac disease and cannot have wheat, I cannot help thinking this UCCB restriction to wheat seems arbitrary and frustratingly inflexible

(NOTE: I am NOT yet Catholic. Still exploring and researching. I am very compelled by the GRAND picture, but I find these little things to be frustrating stumbling blocks)


#2

The reference you make to the “five barley loaves” is from the story of the miraculous feeding of the multitude which pre-dates the Last Supper and has nothing to do with the Holy Eucharist.
In addition, since that event pre-dated Passover, the barley loaves would have been leavened-that is, yeast risen-bread; whereas, the Last Supper was actually a Seder, in celebration of Passover and the bread that was consecrated by Christ at the Last Supper was made of wheat and unleavened (i.e. matzoh) because Jews are forbidden to eat leavened bread during Passover.


#3

Canon Law is specific

n. 924 §1. The most holy eucharistic sacrifice must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed.

§2. The bread must be only wheat and recently made so that there is no danger of spoiling.

The Encyclical Redemptionis Sacramentum states this clearly: "It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.… (no. 48)


#4

Unlike a previous poster, I think the multiplication of the barley loaves IS related to the institution of Holy Eucharist. It is a sign of what is to come.

However, it is not an especially specific sign and if anything the barley bread, which which would have been the common inexpensive bread, can be contrasted with the much finer type of wheat bread that would eventually be used for the Eucharist.

And then there is John 12:24 where Jesus speaks of a grain of wheat that must die before it can yield a harvest. Jesus is quite clearly referring to his own coming death and resurrection and he is specifically identifying with wheat grains as opposed to other grains.

Now there is a very direct link between the Passover celebration and the Eucharist. And even today the most orthodox Jews will only use wheat flour for matzoh. Jesus would have used wheat bread at that first Eucharist.

From this I think you can see that the matter of the sacrament should be wheat bread. And as another previous poster mentions, the Church has in fact declared that wheat bread is the only acceptable matter.


#5

When Jesus begins his discourse on him being "the bread of life", he is most certainly referring back to the feeding of the 5,000. The conversation then leads directly into his "flesh" and "blood"

See John 6:25-35 below:

So I agree that there needs to be liturgical consistency -- and ordinarily, there is **ordinarily **a good reason for the use of wheat bread. But what about those with celiac disease who cannot have wheat? And what if you're in a Latin Mass, where wine is usually NOT given out, but only the host (which, I must say, is another thing that bothers me)?

(Obviously things like Rice or Soy hosts make no sense at all! Barley does. Even if Wheat is the more "finer" -- surely Jesus's perogative is to make extraordinary things out of the ordinary?)

The liturgy needs to glorify God, but also serve the people to POINT them to Jesus. I guess I find it difficult to understand the inflexibility on this matter. It just seems like an unnecessary stumbling block that is difficult to wrap my head around. It also seems one more bit of anti-Catholic fodder for my Protestants friends to object to my conversion: "Ah Ha! See? -- you're denying the Grace of Christ and falling into legalism!"

I do NOT think that's actually the case, but it does make it difficult to answer.

*25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’[c]”

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.*


#6

Please note that what you quote refers to the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum.This is not an “arbitrary or frustratingly inflexible” restriction from the US bishops. This instruction comes from the Holy See. It sets out the doctrine of the Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church we rely of the Magisterium of the Church. The beliefs of the Catholic Church are not based on personal interpretation of Scripture. The Magisterium teaches us that wheat bread is to be used.

I am not saying there are no grounds for an interesting discussion of the Bible. What I hope my post conveys is the reason why we use wheat bread. It is also important to note that this is the doctrine of the enitre Catholic Church rather than just the US bishops.


#7

Thanks for the replies – and YES: I totally get and accept that the Church is Christ’s final authority on earth, through which his Holy Spirit works. Keeping in mind, I’m still approaching this from my usual Protestant instincts towards authority, which are difficult to shake after 20 days.

As you know, for Protestants, the “only” is “Scripture Alone” – which makes it very convenient for slapping OTHER Protestants around with our own private interpretations of the Scripture and condemning each other for heresy! :slight_smile:

I just want to be able to embrace this all BOTH with my HEAD and my HEART. That may not be entirely possible.


#8

[quote="dcarollo, post:7, topic:301114"]
Thanks for the replies -- and YES: I totally get and accept that the Church is Christ's final authority on earth, through which his Holy Spirit works. Keeping in mind, I'm still approaching this from my usual Protestant instincts towards authority, which are difficult to shake after 20 days.

As you know, for Protestants, the "only" is "Scripture Alone" -- which makes it very convenient for slapping OTHER Protestants around with our own private interpretations of the Scripture and condemning each other for heresy! :)

I just want to be able to embrace this all BOTH with my HEAD and my HEART. That may not be entirely possible.

[/quote]

Since you are not so much seeking to know the teaching of the Church as you are seeking to understand the theology behind the teaching of the Church, perhaps you should ask your question in the Sacred Scripture forum.

This forum tends to address how liturgy forms theology rather than how theology forms liturgy.


#9

I disagree. The OP does not have a question about scripture, she has a question about the Eucharist, and Church rules regarding it. That seems pretty squarely the realm of the Liturgy and Sacraments forum to me.

[quote=dcarollo]Surely, there is a biblical and historical precedence for at least the use of barley bread, isn’t there? Considering those who have celiac disease and cannot have wheat, I cannot help thinking this UCCB restriction to wheat seems arbitrary and frustratingly inflexible
[/quote]

One of the great things about the Catholic faith is that almost any issue you can imagine has been endlessly discussed by various theologians over the centuries, so you need not be satisfied with “It is because the Church says so.”

You may or may not find arguments given convincing, but they are undoubtedly well thought out. For me, this is a good example. I think wheat bread was used simply because of tradition. The Eucharist arose in a Jewish context, and so bread for Passover is what was used. Because Christ chose that, the tradition has been followed ever since. Nonetheless, many have come up with what I think are basically ex post facto rationalizations for why we do what we do, the most famous being Thomas Aquinas:
newadvent.org/summa/4074.htm#article3


#10

[quote="Digitonomy, post:9, topic:301114"]
I disagree. The OP does not have a question about scripture, she has a question about the Eucharist, and Church rules regarding it. That seems pretty squarely the realm of the Liturgy and Sacraments forum to me.

[/quote]

It seems to me that the OP thought that scripture suggested something other than what the Church teaches. I agree that such questions SHOULD be answered in the Liturgy and Sacraments forum. My concern was that the OP was getting the, "It is because the Church says so," kinds of the responses. :confused: I see that often in this forum. A poster asks the question, "Why?" and is told, "Because Canon wxyz says so." Those kinds of answers work well for legal type questions. But if the question is more along the lines of, "Why does the Catholic Church believe what She does about the liturgy because I want to pass the information along to my evangelical family?" then legal answers are usually insufficient. I don't always see those kinds of questions given the consideration they are due.

[quote="Digitonomy, post:9, topic:301114"]

You may or may not find arguments given convincing, but they are undoubtedly well thought out. For me, this is a good example. I think wheat bread was used simply because of tradition. The Eucharist arose in a Jewish context, and so bread for Passover is what was used. Because Christ chose that, the tradition has been followed ever since. Nonetheless, many have come up with what I think are basically ex post facto rationalizations for why we do what we do, the most famous being Thomas Aquinas:
newadvent.org/summa/4074.htm#article3

[/quote]

But in this case you have given some great supporting material that actually addresses the question. :)


#11

The bigger reason really is tradition. For as long as anyone can remember, the Church has been using wheat bread. Then again if you are looking back on the feeding of the 5000, should there be 2 pieces of fish at the altar for every Liturgy?


#12

I guess my complaint was more around the flexibility aspect -- NOT whether Wheat Bread is legitimately the "default" bread (which I have no problem with the prevailing tradition on this matter).

Anyway: This issue is NOT going to keep me from the Catholic church by any means! But things like this make it hard sometimes to "explain myself" to others, especially.

By the way: I'm a MAN!


#13

That is the thing about tradition, it predates the Bible. Therefore when one raises the question, “why does the Bible says this and you’re not following it.” When we say “tradition”, we mean that we’ve been doing it this way before the Bible was compiled and canonized. So even though Scripture might point to a different thing, we can’t just change what we have been doing that has been handed down to us by the Apostles.


#14

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