Eucharist
Part 3 Structure and Elements

Chapter e33 Setting the Table

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

EJWU #5 Setting the Table

Ten Finger History

Theology

Structure and Elements

Bread and Wine

Eucharistic Bread Past and Present

Celiac-Sprue Disease

Wine

Mustum

Priests and Alcoholism

Red Wine

Eucharist with Only one Element

To Think About

 The Emmaus story reveals the meal "shape" of the Eucharist
1.  Gathering -- Chapter 21
2.  Story Telling -- Chapter 22
3.  Meal Sharing
3a.  Setting the Table -- Chapter 23
3b.  Saying Grace -- Chapter 24 & 25
3c.  Eating and Drinking -- Chapter 26
4.  Commissioning -- Chapter 27

Preliminary Questions

When did the rubrics stop calling this part of the Mass "offertory"? Why? What theological function does this element of the Mass serve? What is being "offered" at this time?

What is valid matter for the sacrament? What have you been taught about concomitance?

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Bibliography

Cabie, Robert. The Eucharist.

Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.  The Mystery of Faith:  A BIBLIOGRAPHY.  Washington DC: FDLC Publications, 1981.  $5.95.

Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.  The Order of Mass Study: A Report.  Washington DC: FDLC Publications, 1985.  $5.95.

Hay, Leo. Eucharist: A Thanksgiving Celebration, Wilmington: Glazier Publishing, 1989.

Mitchell, Nathan. Cult and Controversy.

Huels, John.  Disputed Questions in the Liturgy Today, Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1988.

Huels, John. Pastoral Companion, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press.

Huels, John. "Concelebration," Disputed Questions in the Liturgy Today, Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1988, pp 39-46.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has several approved recipes for bread for the eucharist post on their web site at http://www.laliturgy.org/resources/PDF/Breadapprovedrecipe.pdf

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

The Lord's Supper

Eucharist Jesus With Us #5, July 2005. Q0705

The following is a draft of a published article ©2005 by St. Anthony Messenger Press, 28 w. Liberty St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.  1-800-488-0488.  The article may not be reproduced or sold without written permission from the publisher.

The Lord's Supper
Is the Mass a sacrifice or is it a meal? That question carries a lot of baggage for some Catholics. The better question is: How is our celebration and understanding of the Eucharist related to the foundational events of our faith: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday? This is both an important and a very difficult question. It is this question that we are exploring in this series of monthly newsletters.

But first, why do I not want to ask: Is the Mass a sacrifice or a meal? First, and most importantly, because it is not a case of either/or but "both/and." But also, I do not want to ask this question because for some Catholics it evokes issues that are not central to these newsletters, for example the relationship between faith and good works, indulgences and Catholic identity.

Revisiting the iceberg
In the first issue of Eucharist: Jesus With Us I spoke of the iceberg metaphor. When we see an iceberg, we are really seeing only a small portion of it. Most of its mass lies unseen, below the surface of the water. When we speak of the Eucharist and use the words sacrifice or meal or Real Presence we engage not only the dictionary definitions of those words (comparable to the visible part of the iceberg) but also unspoken meanings and issues (comparable to the large, unseen part of the iceberg) that are attached to these words.

At the time of the Council of Trent (1545-1563), in reaction to perhaps over-exuberant preaching on indulgences, there were those who insisted that Christians do not "buy" salvation. Salvation is a gift, freely given, and we do not need to add anything to Christ's sacrifice. Some thought that to call the Mass a sacrifice devalued the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ, and so they preferred to call the Eucharist the Lord's Supper. To make a long story short, sacrifice became identified with Catholic identity and to speak of Mass as meal was identified by some as heresy.

What's the big deal?
The "meal or sacrifice" question may sound strange to younger readers--those formed in the faith during the years following the Second Vatican Council. But for us older Catholics, it was a very important question because the answer was linked to our Catholic identity. Catholics like me who learned our catechism in the years before Vatican II remember that the answer to "What is the Mass?" was "The Mass is the sacrifice of the New Law...". To speak of the Mass as "the Lord's Supper" would have sounded foreign to my young Catholic ears.

The key to the mystery
I am convinced that the key to understanding the mystery of the Eucharist lies in understanding its relation to the events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I use these three events as metaphors for the theological concepts of "meal" (Holy Thursday), "sacrifice" (Good Friday) and "presence" of the Risen Lord (Easter Sunday). The first words of the Second Vatican Council regarding the Eucharist join these three mysteries: "At the Last Supper [Holy Thursday]...our Savior instituted the eucharistic sacrifice [Good Friday]...a memorial of his death and resurrection [Easter Sunday]" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #47).

Future issues of this newsletter will address "The Sacrifice of Good Friday" and "Presence of the Risen Lord." Here we will look at the meal shape of the Eucharist (Holy Thursday).

Meal and sacrifice
Calling the Mass a meal does not in any way deny that the Mass is a sacrifice. But how can we integrate these two seemingly different ideas? If I told you, "I just bought a new refrigerator and, oh by the way, it is also a great vacuum cleaner," I am sure you would think this a bit strange. Refrigerators and vacuum cleaners are two completely different appliances.

For some Christians, sacrifice and meal are two separate, different ways of understanding the Eucharist. The challenge is to put the two together. One way of integrating meal and sacrifice is to see the Eucharist as the sacrament of Christ's sacrifice.

Usually when we hear the word sacrifice we think of "giving something up" like giving up coffee for Lent. Or we think of sacrificing an animal as in the Old Testament. And of course we think of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. But here our attention must be directed beyond the blood and suffering aspects of Good Friday to look more deeply into the meaning of this event. Jesus gave himself for us. He held nothing back. He let nothing stand between his will and God's will. Here we see the ultimate purpose of sacrifice: union with God, indeed joyful union with God.

Today we become present to Christ's sacrifice on Calvary in a real yet mystical way when we join together in that sacred meal that he left us on the night before he suffered. At that meal, we eat his flesh and drink his blood and we enter into joyful union with God. In our meal sharing, our Holy Communion (co-union, union with) we become one with Christ and one another.

We need not ask whether the Mass is a meal or a sacrifice. It is not a question of either/or. It is both/and. The meal is the sacramental sign of the sacrifice. Each sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace. At the Eucharist the visible sign is the gathered community sharing a sacred meal, eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord and fulfilling his command to "do this in memory of me."

A Thanksgiving analogy
As the meal is the sacramental sign of the sacrifice, in order to understand the Eucharist it is important to know something about meals. Meals involve much more than merely eating food. Let's consider what happens at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

First of all, the extended family gathers at the appointed time and place. We greet our relatives and friends and spend some time in conversation, sharing our stories. We catch up on the lives of those relatives we haven't seen in a while and we listen as Uncle Otto once again tells his favorite stories about our parents when they were young. Eventually, it is time to share the meal. We move to the dining room, and the food is brought from the kitchen and placed on the table. Amid the wonderful smells and the anticipation of the taste of the traditional foods, the head of the family invites us to pray and to give thanks to God for this meal and for all of God's blessings. Then the food is passed and the wine poured, and we eat and drink. After another period of conversation, we return home, happy and overfed, already anticipating next year's Thanksgiving dinner.
When I use this example to explain the Eucharist, I point out that the Thanksgiving meal has four parts or movements: we 1) gather; 2) tell our stories; 3) share our meal and 4) return home. The Eucharist has a similar four-fold structure: 1) gathering, 2) storytelling, 3) meal sharing and 4) commissioning.

A biblical example
I like to think that this is the same fourfold structure that St. Luke had in mind when he described the Eucharist with the two disciples from Emmaus. As they walk along, the stranger gathers together with them. They tell their story and recall the Scriptures. They invite the stranger in and, in sharing their meal, they "recognize him in the breaking of the bread." Filled with joy and strength from the experience of the risen Lord, they dash back to Jerusalem to tell the other apostles the Good News (Luke 24:13-35). Again we see: gathering, storytelling, meal sharing and commissioning.

In the previous two issues of this newsletter, we have examined the gathering rites in "The Community Gathers" and storytelling in "Do This in Memory of Me" (Liturgy of the Word). This brings us to part three of the Eucharist: "meal sharing."

At Thanksgiving dinner, meal sharing has three movements: 1) food is brought to the table, 2) we say grace and 3) we pass the food and eat and drink. These same three movements are found at the eucharistic banquet: 1) we set the table (the Preparation of the Gifts), 2) we say grace (the Eucharistic Prayer) and 3) we eat and drink (the Communion Rite). Let us begin by examining the first of these three movements: setting the table.

Preparation of the gifts
The three key elements in the Preparation of the Gifts are 1) bringing the bread and wine from the assembly, 2) placing them on the altar/table and 3) praying over the gifts. The mixing of water in the wine and the washing of hands are actions which Jews perform at every ritual meal and which Jesus, no doubt, performed at the Last Supper. These rituals remind us of the meal dimension of the Eucharist.

In the days before money became the ordinary means of exchange, the procession to bring forward the bread and wine to set the table for the Lord's Supper was also the occasion when people brought forward bread and wine, oil and cheese, and other items to sustain the church ministers, the poor and the imprisoned. Today, this procession is the time when we also offer our monetary gifts. In sharing the fruits of our labor, we each in our own way participate in the mission of the Church to announce to the ends of the earth the Good News that we have been saved by the cross of Christ and to fulfill the Lord's command to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty.

This offering of our gifts and the gesture of the priest lifting up the bread and wine are the reasons we formerly called this part of the Mass the Offertory. Today, our prayer of offering takes place during the Eucharistic Prayer, and so the preferred name for this part of the Mass is now Preparation of the Gifts.

The Preparation of the Gifts concludes with the priest inviting us to pray that our sacrifice be acceptable to God. The priest then recites the Prayer over the Gifts. Note that each of the major parts of the Mass concludes with a prayer proclaimed by the presiding priest. The priest leads these prayers, but he always prays in the first person plural. The priest is praying in our name, praying the prayer of the Church. And we are to make that prayer our own and we give our assent, our "so be it," our "Amen."

A holy exchange
Early Church authors delighted in explaining the mysterious exchange of gifts that takes place at Mass. We come forward in procession to offer our gifts of bread and wine to God. In turn, God takes our gifts and transforms them into his gift, the Body and Blood of his Son. And we come forward later in a second procession, the Communion procession, to receive a gift, God's gift. Frequently the prayers of the Mass refer to this "holy exchange of gifts."

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Ten Finger History
Setting the Table

1. Apostolic [0-399]  Bread and wine placed on the table



2. Patristic [400-799]  Gifts of food and drink and other necessities brought forward to help the poor, the imprisoned, the widows and orphans, etc.  The overseer takes some of the bread and wine and "separates" it from the rest and places it on the table and says the "secret" prayer.

3. Early Medieval [800-1199]  



4. Medieval [1200-1399]  Elaboration of the Offertory Rite



5. Late Medieval [1400-1599]  Procession to give gifts disappears following disappearance of procession to receive Gifts.


6. Reformation [1600-1699]  Reformers remove the offertory as it stresses a certain understanding of Sacrifice.  Rome stresses Sacrifice and therefore puts stress on Offering.


7. After Trent [1700-1899] 



8. Before Vat II [1900-1959]  Name: Offertory.   Choir sang "Offertory Antiphon" (No psalm needed because no procession to be accompanied by procession music.)  Nothing stopped while the ushers took up the collection (and collected pew rent).  Prominence of Gallican protestations of humility and unworthiness.
9. Vatican II [1960-1999]  Balancing "Good Friday" [Offertory] with "Holy Thursday" [Setting the Table].  Understanding of the structure of the Eucharistic Prayer discovers the true "Offering" namely, the Sacrifice of Christ.  Procession to give gifts reappears following reappearance of procession to receive Gifts. Simplification of the rite as a secondary rite.
10. Tomorrow [2000-2099]  Strengthening of "communal" aspects of the meal; e.g. all remain standing till all have eaten?.  Emphasis on the noun rather than the adjective "Unleavened Bread"  Better catechesis on drinking from the cup.  Infant communion.  Revised legislation on intercommunion.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

  

Theology

1.  Good Friday / Holy Thursday  In the Chapter 28  Four Treasures in the Attic we saw how the Vatican Council began to balance the predominate Good Friday metaphor for the Eucharist with the Holy Thursday metaphor.

Good FridayHoly Thursday
Sacrifice / priestMeal / host
Altar / victim / painTable / food and drink / comfort
secret actspublic acts
Sacred persons / sacred garmentsfriends / ordinary clothing
special / transcendent / godlydaily /  immanent / ordinary
separated from peopleeaten and ingested
remote / sacred distance /hospitality / intimacy
special food / sacred real bread and real wine / abundance

In the attempt to balance Holy Thursday and Good Friday, some though that there was an opposition between "meal" and "sacrifice".  As we will see in Chapter 34 The Reformation / Sacrifice the problem lines thinking of "sacrifice" in terms of death, killing, destruction, giving up something, etc. rather than in its biblical meaning.  Sacrifice is a ritual action that brings about joyful union with God.  At Mass, we do not need to look for symbols of Jesus' death (the separation of the bread and the wine, the breaking of the bread, etc) but we see the symbol of joyful union with God in the sharing of the meal.

Meal : Sacrifice :: Sacramental Sign : Grace

In the balance of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, each metaphor symbolizes "joyful union with God." 

 "In spirituality, the goal of union with God suggests oblation as the more appropriate term for the self-offering by which the union is sought; the difficulty here has been the tendency to identify sacrifice or oblation entirely with a passive acceptance of suffering, in imitation of the suffering Christ."  [see "Sacrifice" in The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality.]

In our liturgical vocabulary, the predominate metaphor remains 90% Good Friday.

Holy ThursdayGood Friday
Bread and Wine
Food and drink
meal / table
Gifts
Both Species
sacrifice / altar

"Preparation of the Gifts"  Placing the gifts on the altar of sacrifice.  "Pray that our sacrifice... "  "May the Lord receive the Sacrifice at your hands..."  "Super Oblata / Prayer over the Gifts"

2.  Anamnesis (remembering) makes present.  See Chapter d31 Anamnesis  At the Lord's Supper we are present to the eternal self offering of God to save us in Christ Jesus. 

To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in his Church, especially in its liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of his minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross," but especially under the eucharistic elements. By his power he is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word, since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for he promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20).  Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, article 7.

Presence of Christ

Presence in the CommunityGathering Rites
 Presence in the WordStory Telling
Presence in the Sharing of the Meal

Meal Sharing

. Presence in the WorldCommissioning

3.  Meal structure  Thanksgiving Dinner:  Gathering, Story Telling, Meal Sharing, Commissioning.  Movement three, Story Telling, has three elements:  a) Setting the table, b) saying grace, c) passing the food and eating and drinking. 

MealEucharist
Set the TablePreparation of the Gifts
Grace before mealsEucharistic Prayer
Pass the food; eat and drinkCommunion Rite

A fourth element was very prominent in the Mass Pius V, but has gradually diminished in the Mass of Paul VI.

Washing the dishesPurification of the vessels

4.  Primary and Secondary Elements  The "preparation of the gifts" is a secondary element of the eucharist in relation to the Eucharistic Prayer and the eating and drinking.  As "setting the table" is a secondary element of Thanksgiving Dinner."  Important, but secondary. 

The primary elements of this secondary rite are:  a) Bringing the bread and wine to the table; b) Receiving them by the presider and placing them on the altar; c) The presidential prayer over the gifts (formerly Secreta, now Super Oblata, in English Prayer over the Gifts).  The other elements are secondary elements of a secondary rite.

General Principle: Secondary elements should have less ritual prominence than do primary elements

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page[Return to top of this page]

Structure and Elements

1.  Bringing the food and drink to the table  (Primary Element) What is brought to the table/altar in the procession?  Bread and wine.  Altar cloths, candles, flowers, chalices, ciboria, books, etc.  Basketballs, quilt tops, wedding rings, profession crosses, etc.

2.  Collection of gifts for the poor  Gifts for the poor; The two processions appeared, disappeared, and reappeared together. Significance to the faithful: Offering. (On the other hand see David Scott "Where Are Catholics When the Collection Basket Is Passed?" St. Anthony Messenger, November 1991 pp 36-41.)  Start with the presider and pass through the sanctuary and ministers.

3.  Placing the bread and wine on the table  (Primary Element) The gesture is down, not up.  Placing the gifts on the altar, not raising them up. 

4.  Song  The procession is to be seen.  The song accompanies the procession.  [The prayers and ceremonies of the offertory -- the psalm, the washing of hands, and the prayers during the incensing of the altar -- were introduced form France.]

5.  BRK over the Gifts.  Adapted from BRK meal prayers at the time of Jesus.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.
All: Blessed be God forever.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become our spiritual drink.
All: Blessed be God forever.

6.  Mixing of Water and Wine  Ritual mixing / Functional mixing.  Symbolic, historical meaning: Last Supper.  How big to make it? [secondary elements of a secondary rite].  See comments from Mystery of Faith study. Prayer gives mystical meaning to a once practical act.  The point is to remind us of the Jew Jesus celebrating a meal. 

7.  "Lord God, We Ask You"  Gallican prayers of humility.

8.  Incense  More smell than smoke;  Reflect structure of the rite  -- People -- Word -- Bread and Wine.  See "incense" in Chapter d43 The Structure and Elements of a Liturgical Rite

9.  Washing of hands  Ritual washing / Practical washing; Symbolic, historical meaning: Last Supper;  How big to make it? [secondary elements of a secondary rite];  See comments from Mystery of Faith study.  The point is to remind us of the Jew Jesus celebrating a meal.  

10.  Invitation to the Prayers over the Gifts  Genre: invitation.  Spoken to the people, not to God.  And the people respond to the presiding minister.  The minister does not say "Amen" because it is not a prayer. 

Pray, that our sacrifice
may be acceptable to almighty God.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands
for the praise and glory of God's name,
for our good, and the good of all the Church.

11.  "Prayer over the Offerings" (2011 title translating the 2002 Latin:  "Super oblata")  or "Prayer Over The Gifts" (1969 title translating the 1969 Latin:  "Super oblata") or  "Secret Prayer" (1950 title translating the Latin of the Missal of Trent:  "Secreta")  Name:  The history of the Eucharist indicates that from the first centuries the laity brought forward gifts of food and drink and other necessities to help the poor, the imprisoned, the widows and orphans, etc.  The deacon took  took some of the bread and wine and "separates" it from the rest and places it on the table [altar]  before the overseer [presider / bishop] to be used for this sacred meal and the overseer said a prayer over those things that had been separated, "separata" in Latin.  The story goes that in time the word "separata" morphs into "secrata".  This is confused with "secreta" meaning secret or silent, and the prayer began to be said silently by the priest -- and in English missals in the time before the Second Vatican Council was often called "The Secret Prayer."  It was returned to its original function by the reforms of Vatican II. 

(Primary Element) Structure of the "Prayer over the Offerings"  is similar to the Collect / Opening Prayer / Collecta.  Note that each movement of the Eucharistic action is brought to conclusion by a presidential prayer; e.g. the Gathering Rites with the Collect, the Liturgy of the Word with the prayer after the General Intercessions (2011 The Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful]); the preparation of the gifts [setting the table] with the "Prayer over the Offerings".

 "The prayer over the gifts serves as the conclusion to the preparation of the gifts and as a transition to the Eucharistic prayer. As a conclusion to the people's presentation of bread and wine on the altar, the prayer briefly sums up the meaning of this action, that is, the preparation of both the gifts and the community. As a transition to the Eucharistic prayer, the prayer over the gifts refers to the material gifts set aside for sacrifice and/or it anticipates what they are to become. As one of the presidential prayers of The Roman Missal, it is proclaimed by the presiding celebrant and offered in the name of the community (see GIRM 1969, no 10.) (ICEL, Comprehensive Revisions Program, Presidential Prayers of The Roman Missal, October 1982, p. 45.)

***

The role of the one who gathers   What is the role of the presider? (What does the priest think he is doing? Offering or setting the table?  . A meal form calls for setting the table, gathering the guests (gathering), conversation (story telling) and the sharing of food and drink. The table is set, someone says a meal prayer, and the food is shared. This same model is operative at the Eucharist: the table is set (preparation of the gifts, formerly called offertory), the meal prayer is said (Eucharistic Prayer), and the meal is shared (Communion Rite). The presiding priest must ask: Am I offering or am I setting the table? For example, is my concern the elevation of the bread and the wine, or the ceremonial placing of the bread and wine on the altar? Is it an "up" or a "down" gesture?)  To preside at this element:

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Bread and Wine

Legislation regarding the food and drink

GIRM 281. Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used bread and wine with water to celebrate the Lord's Supper.

GIRM 282. According to the tradition of the Church, the bread must be made from wheat; according to the tradition of the Latin Church, it must be unleavened.

GIRM 283. The nature of the sign demands that the material for the eucharistic celebration appear as actual food. The eucharistic bread, even though unleavened and traditional in form, should therefore be made in such a way that the priest can break it and distribute the parts to at least some of the faithful. When the number of communicants is large or other pastoral needs require it, small hosts may be used. The gesture of breaking of the bread, as the eucharist was called in apostolic times, will more clearly show the eucharist as a sign of unity and charity, since the one bread is being distributed among the members of one family.

Vocabulary for non-Kansans.  Wheat grows in shafts.  A shaft of wheat has a head (also called an ear).  The shafts (or stalks) and the heads are gathered into sheaves (singular = sheaf).

Pouring the Wine into the individual cups for distribution

2002 March 22, the USCCB approved Norms which provided for the pouring of the Precious Blood during the singing of Lamb of God into chalices for distribution to the faithful.

2004 March 25, the Congregation published an instruction under the title, Redemptionis Sacramentum (RS), which prescribed that "the pouring of the Blood of Christ after the consecration from one vessel to another is completely to be avoided, lest anything should happen that would be to the detriment of so great a mystery.

2004 April 27, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Chairman of the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy, wrote to Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation, nothing the discrepancy between Redemptionis Sacramentum and the USCCB Norms in regard to pouring the Precious Blood and the use of flagons.

2004 May 6, with a letter modifying the Congregation's "original confirmation in regard to numbers 37 and 37 of these Norms" and including an amended text of the USCCB Norms which eliminates both the pouring of the Precious Blood and the use of flagons.

2004 August 2, Cardinal George wrote to Cardinal Arinze once again, noting that several Bishops "have questioned the competence of the Congregation to revise its recognition of norms approved and confirmed on a prior occasion."

2004 August 4, Cardinal Arinze responded (Prot. n. 660/04/L) to Cardinal George's letter, observing that while "a provision of complementary legislation, once granted recognition, may not simply be revised...," it must be borne in mind that:  (1) "an Instruction may develop the manner in which a law is to be put into effect ..." and contained in nos. 36-37 of the Norms since a presumption upon which the complementary norm has been based could no longer be maintained as being in accord with the ius commune."

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Eucharistic Bread Past and Present

 [For a discussion of the terms valid / invalid and licit / illicit see these entries in Chapter d18 Glossary of Liturgical Terms ]

Roman Catholics have recently experienced changes in the bread used at Eucharist. Some are confused by questions that their religious instruction did not prepare them to answer. An understanding of the history and laws concerning the bread can help free a person from confusion or bewilderment. The paragraphs which follow are a pastoral effort to make available the basic history and legislation concerning Eucharistic bread.

PASSOVER. The Jewish Passover is one of the ways in which Christian Eucharist is interpreted. Ordinarily, Jews at Jesus' time ate leavened bread baked in an oven. However during Passover week they removed this "peasants" bread from their homes and used only a "nomad" bread (the "bread of affliction") which reminded them of the time of their slavery and the time when they were still a nomadic people, pilgrims and strangers in Canaan. This "nomad" bread was more primitive and plainer than their usual bread. The matzoth were flat cakes of unleavened bread, baked on heated stones.  ( For example,  "Pita" or "Pocket" bread is unleavened bread baked on a heated surface.)

THE FIRST THOUSAND YEARS. As we move from the time of Christ to the time of the Church we find wheaten bread used in all the rites, East and West. The practice does not prove that Christ himself used wheat rather than barley bread, but simply that the various Churches accepted the "good" bread of the Mediterranean world.  For the first thousand years of Christianity the bread was not a theological issue. The bread used for the Eucharist was the normal "daily bread" of the people, that is, leavened. The use of "special" bread as at the Passover does not seem to have been particularly significant during this time. The key factor seems to have been the relationship between the two processions. People brought bread from the table at home, presented their gifts in procession at the altar, and in procession received this same bread in Holy Communion, the Body of Christ.

THE SECOND THOUSAND YEARS.  In the Latin Church, both processions began to disappear together. The people, convinced of their unworthiness, stop going to Communion. Eucharist becomes something to be looked at and adored rather than eaten. At the same time, the people stop bringing bread in procession to be offered at the altar. The liturgy is no longer the action of the People of God but an affair of the clergy performed for the laity who watch and pray. This development begins about the eighth century in the Latin Church. We have no indication of individual hosts being used for Communion before about 715. The use of unleavened bread in the West became custom and by 1054 when the Catholic West finally separated from the Orthodox East  the difference in their Eucharistic bread became a symbol of the hatred and division of Christendom. By the time of the Council of Florence (1439), which sought to reunite East and West, the difference in their Eucharistic bread -- unleavened in the West, leavened in the East -- is seen to be merely a difference in custom, not theology; the custom is simply acknowledged and accepted.

1900 THE LITURGICAL MOVEMENT.  In our own century we have seen the gradual restoration of the two processions. Pope Saint Pius X encouraged frequent Communion in 1905 and we have seen a change in Catholic practice from receiving Communion rarely or once a year to the practice of receiving at each Eucharistic celebration. The procession to Communion has been restored; however, the procession with the gifts has been more difficult. It is no longer a question of the faithful bringing their "daily bread" to the altar as in the first thousand years; now they bring "hosts" to the altar.

1960-1970 THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL. The liturgical movement created an atmosphere in which the Fathers at the Second Vatican Council enunciated the basic principles for the reform of our worship. The liturgy is the prayer of the whole Church; consequently, the whole Church, clergy and laity, is the celebrant of the liturgical action. The rites are to be guided by the principle of authenticity: they are to express clearly the things they signify. We are to take part in the rites fully, actively and with understanding.

It is in the context of these general principles enunciated by the Constitution on the Liturgy in 1963 that the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (1969) was written. This General Instruction states that in addition to the traditional requirements for our Eucharistic bread we must apply the principles of the liturgical reform. The Eucharistic bread "is to appear as actual food" and is to "be made in such a way that the priest can break it and distribute the parts to the faithful." "The gesture of the breaking of the bread, as the Eucharist was called in apostolic times, will more clearly show the Eucharist as a sign of unity and charity, since the one bread is being distributed among the members of one family." This was to be the "new" bread brought in procession by the faithful to the altar.

1970-1980 -- IMPLEMENTATION. When the faithful began to try to bake this bread for the altar using all the rules given them, they found it very difficult. It is hard to bake bread using only flour and water. A thousand years of concentrating on the adjective (unleavened) made it difficult to achieve the noun (bread).

Bakers began to try to do what the rules said: bake bread using only flour and water. Bakers knew that the taste and appearance could be greatly improved by the addition of salt, oil, honey. Some felt that these additions were justified because it made it easier to obey the law that the bread "is to appear as actual food." Others said that the law states that the bread must be made from wheat, it did not say it must be made from only wheat.

The committee responsible for the worship in the United States was aware of these problems and prepared a canonical statement in which they gave the reasons why it would be acceptable to add small amounts of salt, oil, etc. to the flour to make the Eucharistic bread. The United States Bishops sent this letter to Rome on March 15, 1978. If it was accepted, the United States Bishops intended to present a selection of acceptable recipes so that both the authenticity of the sacramental sign and the traditional teaching of the Church be respected.

On June 4, 1979, the department of the Vatican in charge of safeguarding our traditional faith and practice rejected the reasoning of the canonical statement allowing additions to wheat flour and said that "it would not be appropriate to accept the suggestion of the canonical paper."

On Holy Thursday, April 3, 1980, the department of the Vatican in charge of sacraments and worship issued an instruction which states (in article 8) that the laws given in the 1969 General Instruction are to remain unchanged. The bread is to appear as actual food, baked so that it can be broken in a dignified way, and baked without the addition of any ingredients other than wheaten flour and water.

1980 AND BEYOND. While we continue to search for a way to bake bread which is identifiable by the senses to be bread, yet baked with wheat flour and water, a more important change is taking place: a change in the piety and understanding of Christians. The focus of our search is not to find methods of baking, but methods of understanding the relation of our bread to the bread of the Scriptures. To become willing to share our lives as we share our Bread. That as we receive one Bread, we who are many may become one Body.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

 

Before entering into a discussion of bread recipes, it is perhaps good to establish a hierarchy of values.  You will not find this “hierarchy” printed in some official book, because it exists primarily in each person's subconscious. 

As I try to examine my own understanding of this matter I think that the following hierarchy emerges, starting from the most important thing to things of lesser importance:

1.  Meal
2.
  Sharing food and drink
3.  Sharing bread and wine
4.  Wheat bread and grape wine
5.  Wheat bread that is unleavened
6.  Grape wine that has fermented
7.  Wheat bread made from flour and water only
8.  Grape wine with no additives

 Currently, the Roman Church understands one through four of the above list to be necessary for the very validity of the sacrament.  Five through eight, are required for the celebration to be listed according to current Church law.  (Or in simpler terms without one through four there would be no Mass, even if it looked like a Mass to the ordinary person.)

 Regarding items five through eight above, the current legislation of the Church, as found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Chapter VI: The Requisites For The Celebration Of Mass, Part  I. The Bread and Wine for Celebrating the Eucharist, states:

 319. Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used bread and wine with water to celebrate the Lord's Supper.

 320. The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat, must be recently made, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened.

 321. By reason of the sign, it is required that the material for the Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food. Therefore, it is desirable that the Eucharistic Bread, even though unleavened and made in the traditional form, be fashioned in such a way that the Priest at Mass with the people is truly able to break it into parts and distribute these to at least some of the faithful. However, small hosts are not at all excluded when the large number of those receiving Holy Communion or other pastoral reasons call for them. Moreover, the gesture of the fraction or breaking of bread, which was quite simply the term by which the Eucharist was known in apostolic times, will bring out more clearly the force and importance of the sign of the unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity by the fact that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters.

 322. The wine for the celebration of the Eucharist must be from the fruit of the vine (cf. Lk 22:18), natural, and unadulterated, that is, without admixture of extraneous substances.

 The liturgical renewal brought about by the “Liturgical Movement” during the first half of the 20th century and culminating in the reforms of the second Vatican Council and its implementation placed a renewed emphasis on the symbolic value of liturgical gestures and objects.

 For example, the bread that is to be used at the Eucharist, “by reason of the sign, … is required truly have the appearance of food.”  It should “be fashioned in such a way that the priest at Mass  is truly able to break it into parts and distribute it the faithful.

 In the years following the implementation of the Missal of Paul IV we tried to observe the directives that had been given to us by Rome, and there were many and various attempts to bake bread for the Eucharist that looked and tasted like unleavened bread.  After several years of experimentation the committee for divine worship of the USCCB gathered several of the most successful recipes and sent them to Rome for approval.  The history of what happened next is shrouded in mystery but apparently, the story I was told by people on the inside, was that the diplomatic pouch intended for the congregation for Divine worship was intercepted and Clerics who were not particularly attuned to the “importance of the “symbolic nature of the liturgy” issued a decree that the bread for the Eucharist could contain absolutely nothing but flour and water.  Having served as seminary library and for many years, it was my experience that flour and water made very good library paste, and rather poor bread.

 Admittedly, it is very difficult to observe paragraph 321 of the General Instruction.  Some parishes continue to struggle to be obedient to the directive and try to use bread that looks and tastes like bread, but many parishes have just given up and a return to hosts. 

 A liturgist might argue that hosts are also illicit because they do not look and taste like bread for most American Catholics but are simply “hosts” or “communion wafers.”   

 But, as I travel around the country giving talks in parish missions, it is been my experience that many parishes have simply given up on “real bread” and simply consecrated hosts.

 The legislation that the faithful are to receive Holy Communion with bread consecrated at that Eucharist and not taken from the tabernacle is simply ignored in most parishes.  Convenience and practicality simply trumps the law.  And our understanding of the liturgy as a symbolic function is pretty much disappeared 40 years after the Council.

Celiac-Sprue Disease

References

As of September 1, 2004 most authoritative statement on celiacs and Holy Communion is in the BCL Newsletter, November 2003  http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/innews/1103.htm

CLSA Advisory Opinions 1994-2000: 274-279.

Website of the Catholic Celiac Society http://www.catholicceliacs.org

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has several approved recipes for bread for the eucharist post on their web site at http://www.laliturgy.org/resources/PDF/Breadapprovedrecipe.pdf

Sisters Jane Heschmeyer and Lynn Marie D'Souza, of the Benedictine convent in Clyde, Missouri, after 10 years of experiments, developed a Communion wafer that has a gluten content of 0.01%.  According to the U.S. episcopal conference's Committee on Divine Worship, "This product is the only true, low-gluten altar bread known to the Secretariat and approved for use at Mass in the United States."   The extremely-low-gluten hosts can be ordered from the Benedictine Sisters in Clyde, MO, by calling 1-800-223-2772. They are available as a small host or as a presider host.  The sisters remind us not to place the low-gluten hosts on top of other hosts, but to consecrate them in a different vessel.

Wellspring, J. "Coeliac Disease: A New Obstacle to Holy Orders." Studia Canonica 35 (2001): 191-213. (He has a long section on what makes wheaten bread.)

Celiac-Sprue Disease  [The following is from the US Bishops Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter of April-May 2000]   In recent years, the Secretariat for the Liturgy has received numerous inquiries from sufferers of Celiac-Sprue disease whose intolerance for the "gluten" found in wheat breads effectively precludes their reception of the Eucharist under the form of bread. In response to these concerns, the Secretariat has studied this issue carefully and consulted with researchers throughout the United States. Conference officers have, likewise, pursued an active dialogue with various dicasteries of the Holy See.

The following summary of the issues at stake in this important pastoral question are presented to our readership in order to assist Diocesan Offices for Worship in their response to those seeking their assistance.

While each person suffering from Celiac-Sprue disease reacts differently to different amounts of gluten, most doctors advise them to adopt a totally gluten-free diet. This advice is based upon studies which appear to document histologic evidence of inflammatory changes seen on small intestine biopsies when known gluten doses are as low as 100 mg. While it appears that the long term effects of such small inflammatory changes are not readily apparent, some preliminary studies indicate a possible increased rate of cancer with minimal gluten intake, including lymphoma.

Given the need for total abstention from hosts containing gluten, the common advice given to Celiac-Sprue sufferers is to receive the Precious Blood alone. Priests are thus well advised to clearly teach the doctrine of concomitance, the Church's belief that under either species the whole Christ is received. Likewise, priests should recall the right which each Catholic in good standing has to receive Holy Communion (Canon 843). In the light of this right, the Precious Blood must be made available to sufferers of this disease who request it, even if it is not offered to the rest of the congregation.

Additional concerns emerge when the Precious Blood has been "contaminated" with gluten either by the fermentum or intinction. In such instances it is appropriate to provide a separate chalice for the benefit of those unable to tolerate any amount of gluten.

In seeking to respond to this pastoral challenge, many have reexamined the question of "What is valid matter for the Eucharist?" Some have suggested the use of rice flour in place of wheat, or the replacement of the gluten in wheat flour with xanthium gum or some other naturally occurring binding agent.

The Code of Canon Law (924 §2) is of assistance in answering this question:

The bread must be made of wheat alone (mere triticeus) and recently made so that there is no danger of corruption. In a circular letter to Episcopal Conferences dated June 19, 1995, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expanded on this canon in the light of the dilemma faced by sufferers of Celiac Sprue disease:

Special hosts quibus glutinum ablatum est [in which gluten has been removed] are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist;

Low-gluten hosts are valid matter, provided that they contain the amount of gluten sufficient to obtain the confection of bread, that there is no addition of foreign materials, and that the procedure for making such hosts is not such as to alter the nature of the substance of the bread.  Cardinal Ratzinger's statement is based upon a definition of the ingredients of bread as solely and exclusively wheat flour and water. An essential ingredient of wheat, according to Cardinal Ratzinger's letter, is the active presence of gluten.

In the light of the increasing scientific evidence that even a small amount of gluten may be dangerous to sufferers of Celiac Sprue disease many would hesitate to recommend the use of "low gluten" hosts. Thus the only viable solution seems to be the offering of the Precious Blood to such persons.

Diocesan Directors of Worship are urged to help priests and parish liturgists to be sympathetic to those suffering from this disease and to become sensitive to ways in which they can legitimately assist them in approaching the Lord's table to receive Christ in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Commentary 

ZENIT's Father Edward McNamara dedicated his Sept. 14, 2004, liturgy column to the question of gluten-free hosts.  He explained why the Church has seen it necessary to confirm what can and cannot be matter for the sacrament of the Eucharist.  "From the theological perspective the Church's power over some elements of the sacraments is not absolute and must respect those elements which it understands as having been determined by the Lord himself.  ...  Among these elements is the exclusive use of wheat bread and grape wine for the Eucharist." 

On the other hand, when I was a student at the Liturgy Institute in Paris, the common teaching was that Jesus used bread and wine because they were the normal food and drink at festive meals in his time and culture; I was taught that the Church is not bound to use wheat bread and grape wine for the Eucharist.  There is a certain "historical preference" for bread and wine, but 1) this is liturgy / symbol, not chemistry; and 2) with the expansion of Christianity beyond Jerusalem and the time and culture of Jesus, there are places where wheat bread and grape wine are not available, or not culturally "ordinary" or too expensive.  There are people who cannot tolerate alcohol or gluten and the Church has the power to use other food and drink for the Eucharist.  The Church can regulate all aspects of the celebration of the Eucharist in these situations.

While I was taught that the Holy Spirit directs the Church in a much more fundamental way than that understood by some, and that the Church does have "power" over the elements of the sacraments, and that bread and wine are not among "those elements which were determined by the Lord himself", the common understanding in Rome in 2008 would lean more toward the opinion of Fr. McNamara cited above than toward what I was taught.  But in any case the Holy Spirit helps us to hand on to the next generation what we have received from the generations before us so that "the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth." (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, #8)

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Wine

It is necessary to keep in mind the distinctions between validity and liceity for the matter of the Eucharist.  [For a discussion of the terms valid / invalid and licit / illicit see these entries in Chapter d18 Glossary of Liturgical Terms ]

For validity, the wine must be made of grapes and cannot be diluted by more than 50% of its volume. Alcoholic content is required for liceity, not validity, otherwise it would not be possible for priests with alcoholism to receive permission to use mustum, which is the juice of ripe grapes whose fermentation has been suspended by freezing, bottling, etc. In other words, grape juice is valid matter for the Eucharist but illicit without permission of the Ordinary.

For liceity, commentators in the past have said that the alcoholic content may be anywhere between 7 and 24%. There are some variations, but these figures are safe to use. -- [John Huels, OSM]

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Mustum

Regarding the ability of Ordinaries to grant permission for the use of mustum to priests:  In a letter to Cardinal Keeler (then president of the NCCB), dated June 19, 1995, Cardinal Ratzinger addressed two issues raised by the NCCB: the use of low-gluten hosts and the use of mustum.

Concerning the permission to use mustum:  1. The preferred solution continues to be Communion by intinction or (in concelebration) under the species of bread alone. 2. Nevertheless, the permission to use mustum can be granted by Ordinaries to priests affected by alcoholism or other conditions which prevent the ingestion of even the smallest quantity of alcohol, after presentation of a medical certificate.  3. By mustum is understood fresh juice from grapes, or juice preserved by suspending fermentation (by means of freezing or other methods which do not alter its nature).

There were further items about concelebration, the directive that conferences report to the Congregation for divine worship every two years on the application of the norms, a note about suitability of candidates for priesthood suffering from celiac disease or alcoholism, and a note that for a very rare instance of a lay person requesting this, recourse must be made to the Holy See.

The full text of the letter (sent in English) can be found in the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter, Vol. XXXI, July /August 1995 (Ann Rehrauer, OSF)

(The following information is found in the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter. January 2003, page 8.)  Suppliers of Mustum in the United States The [USCCB] Secretariat for the Liturgy has received many inquiries since 1995 regarding the use of "mustum" as valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.  As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued a June 19, 1995 letter addressed to the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences regarding low-gluten altar breads and mustum.  There, Cardinal Ratzinger stated that "mustum" is "understood as fresh as fresh juice from grapes, or juice preserved by suspending fermentation (by means of freezing or other methods which do not altar nature)."  Some parishes have reported difficulty in locating suppliers of "mustum" in the United States.  At present, there are two suppliers of mustum known to the Secretariat for the Liturgy, whose products are valid matter for used at Mass.

Mont La Salle Altar Wine Company
385  A La Fata St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
Phone: 707-963-2521 or 1-800-447-8466
Fax: 707-963-3226
Contact: Mr. James Cox

Ranelle Trading/ Ojai Fresh Juice Corporation
2501 Oak Hill Circle, Suite 2023
Ft. Worth, TX 76109
Phone:  877-211-7690 (Toll Free)
E-mail: mike@ojaifresh.com
Contact:  Mr. Mike Ranelle

A quick history of wine / mustum / grape juice

1) Jews drank wine at festive meals. Jesus used wine. The Church uses wine... Year 1 to 1800?? (the days of the cowboys) -- wine is simply not an issue -- all Christians use wine for Eucharist. [Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18 "Fruit of the vine" simply a poetic way of speaking of wine. Anyway: Grape juice automatically ferments and becomes wine unless it is pasteurized and that was not invented yet.] Missionaries (northern Europe, California, Africa...) brought along grape vines so they could say Mass.

2) America -- frontier -- cowboys are gone for long periods of time on cattle drives -- come home, get paid all at once, go to the bar and spend it all at once on liquor, wife and children starve... This is a bad thing! Caused by alcohol; alcohol is a bad thing. Rise of "temperance movements" -- "prohibition" etc. --

3a) Church dispute: some churches feel that the best pastoral response to this situation is to use non-alcoholic wine for the Lord's Supper. And products such as Welch Grape Juice are invented. "The story of Welch's began in 1869 in Vineland, New Jersey -- when physician and dentist Thomas Bramwell Welch and his son Charles processed the first bottles of "unfermented wine" to use during their church's communion service." www.welchs.com/about-welchs/history

3b) Church dispute: other churches (e.g. Catholics) feel that the "tradition" of wine at the Lord's Supper is more important than the pastoral concern regarding alcohol and they continue to use wine. (In the Roman usage, in 1800, only the priest received anyway and it was not a major pastoral issue.)

4) Next step: Alcoholism is rethought. Medically it is learned that some people cannot tolerate alcohol. What if a priest has this disease? Rome makes the decision that such a priest can use non-alcoholic wine (mustum / grape juice) for the Eucharist.

5) Liturgical Movement 1900-1960 -- getting in touch with our history -- Question: Did Jesus use wheat bread and grape wine because he wanted us to use bread and wine or did Jesus use bread and wine because they were the common food and drink in his culture. (This question has implications for countries that do not grow wheat or grapes). This was something we discussed when I was in graduate school in the 1970's but I never hear it discussed today. We are in a different place historically.

6) Why do we get upset about wine or grape juice, the percentage of alcohol that makes grape juice wine, how much water can you put in the wine without it ceasing to be wine (or grape juice) etc, etc, etc? Because the Devil knows that if he can have us focus on these "chemistry" issues we will be distracted from the real point: the blood of Christ was poured out for the forgiveness of sins and when we drink that blood we pledge ourselves to pouring out our life blood for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Priests and Alcoholism

The norm on not ordaining a candidate suffering from alcoholism was in a 1995 letter of the CDF. This letter was not approved by the pope, even in forma communi. It does not create any new legal obligation that can supersede universal law. The canon of the Code, which says the ordinary determines the psychological and physical suitability of candidates for ordination, remains intact. No dispensation is needed from the CDF letter; the ordinary has the authority, in universal law, to decide.   The norm of the CDF as advisory, namely, as a warning to ordinaries of the potential difficulties of ordaining someone with alcoholism, unless there is good evidence that recovery is solid.  It should also be recalled that priests with alcoholism may receive communion by intinction. Moreover, with the ordinary's permission, after presentation of a medical certificate, they may consecrate grape juice when they preside at Mass, if they are medically unable to receive by intinction.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Red Wine

On whether the wine should be red or white, see P.-M. Gy, O.P., La Maison Dieu.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Eucharist with only one element

Eucharist with only one element, food or drink, but not both.  [The following is taken from a private response June 10, 2001 to a question posed in a private web chat room.  The response is by a very well respected canon lawyer.]  The question "whether Mass is valid when only one element has been consecrated" is an old one.  Both views have been held in the canonical and theological tradition. The more common view is that Mass is invalid, since Christ instituted it using both bread and wine, but the minority view was never officially repudiated. The supreme authority of the Church has never definitively ruled on this issue. That is why canon 927 does not say that it is invalid to celebrate Mass using only one element; it says: "It is absolutely wrong (nefas est) to do it."  Since there is a doubt of law here, legal obligations do not bind. So, if it were a Sunday when this Mass was celebrated, it would not be necessary for the people to return for another Mass that day. Obligations in justice would remain, however, so if the priest had accepted a Mass offering, he would be bound to celebrate another Mass for that intention. Regarding canon 10, that canon and all the canons of the first title of the Code apply only to ecclesiastical laws. Now, since the canonical tradition has considered wheat bread to be a matter of divine law, it is not necessary to state expressly that this is for validity. Of course, this has never been declared definitively, so it is potentially open to revision by the supreme authority--though this will not likely happen in our lifetimes, as the CDF believes the matter is settled.   [For a discussion of the terms valid / invalid and licit / illicit see these entries in Chapter d18 Glossary of Liturgical Terms ]

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

To Think About

1.  How can we unify this evidently cluttered rite? 

2.  What metaphor is operative in your vocabulary with regard to this element of the Mass?

3.  What is the role of the presider? (What are you doing? Offering or setting the table? The Sacrifice of the Mass in the form of a meal. A meal form calls for setting the table, gathering the guests (gathering), conversation (story telling) and the sharing of food and drink. The table is set, someone says a meal prayer, and the food is shared. This same model is operative at the Eucharist: the table is set (preparation of the gifts, formerly called offertory), the meal prayer is said (Eucharistic Prayer), and the meal is shared (Communion Rite). The presiding priest must ask: Am I offering or am I setting the table? For example, is my concern the elevation of the bread and the wine, or the ceremonial placing of the bread and wine on the altar? Is it an "up" or a "down" gesture?)  To preside at this element:

  • To host the meal
  • to receive the gifts and set the table
  • receptivity, inviting, uniting, forgiving reconciling
  • inviting, welcoming, minister of hospitality
  • centering function on the table
  • receive the gifts of the people
  • Allowing the People their Part in the BRK
  • Thanks and Praise, Bless Food / Consecrate Gifts

4. What is the theological significance of the preparation rites? Why is the rite no longer called "offertory"? What metaphors are most operative in the current ritual?

5. Why are bread and wine different from "ceremonial" gifts which might be brought to the altar at this time?

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/20/15 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at tomrichs@psci.net.