Redemptionis Sacramentum 96

A last word on the distribution of the Eucharist:

[96.] The practice is reprobated whereby either unconsecrated hosts or other edible or inedible things are distributed during the celebration of Holy Mass or beforehand after the manner of Communion, contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books. For such a practice in no way accords with the tradition of the Roman Rite, and carries with it the danger of causing confusion among Christ’s faithful concerning the Eucharistic doctrine of the Church. Where there exists in certain places by concession a particular custom of blessing bread after Mass for distribution, proper catechesis should very carefully be given concerning this action. In fact, no other similar practices should be introduced, nor should unconsecrated hosts ever be used for this purpose.

Rome got word of practices like “children’s communion,” in which cookies might be distributed at Mass. I confess it’s one of those practices I ridiculed in my younger days. In one place in my region, liturgists howled at the passing out of sugar wafers. But we also recognized the problem with “artificial” bread, namely pre-cut hosts. Sugar wafers instead of bread? Sounds like a problem with at least two faces to me.

I don’t know if “confusion” is the most accurate term as used in RS 96. I would characterize it as well-intentioned, but deeply misguided.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Redemptionis Sacramentum 96

  1. Liam says:

    A couple of things about the customary bread of the Roman rite.

    1. The hosts are meant to evoke manna, rather than typical table bread. (It’s not clear what kind of bread Jesus used at the Last Supper, because it’s not clear that it was a Pesach meal (the seder ritual we are familiar with today arose after the destruction of the Temple, btw). If we were dealing with a meal before the arrival of Pesach in the modern rabbinical tradition, it would be egg matzot as yeast is already cleaned out by the 10th of Nisan, but it’s too early to eat the ceremonial matzot of Pesach; again, this is a post-Temple rabbinical Jewish development, as far as I am aware. Anyway, it was the traditional subject of polemic between Greeks and Latins (Armenians, interestingly, kept to unleavened bread.)

    2. One thing about the kind of bread that was traditionally used in the Byzantine traditions: naturally leavened bread is less likely to crumb in tiny bits than unleavened bread or bread made with modern commercial yeast.

  2. Melody says:

    Made me think of the Eastern European tradition of Christmas Bread:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_wafer
    Our parish makes oplatki wafers available at Christmas. The difference of course is that the custom is not carried out in church, but at a meal at one’s home.

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