Today’s question: The Composition and Appearance of Eucharistic Bread
Many congregations today struggle with the decision to use the store bought wafers or to bake their own bread. In trying to understand the Church’s vision on this topic, one finds that the texts and canons are slightly ambiguous –
e.g. Redemptionis Sacramentum §48
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 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. It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist.
…or De Defectibus §III.3
If the bread is not made of wheat flour, or if so much other grain is mixed with the wheat that it is no longer wheat bread, or if it is adulterated in some other way, there is no Sacrament.
Is salt permitted, for instance? And what about water? Not explicitly mentioned. Is it OK to use 10 grams of rye flour in a kilogram of wheat? Whole-wheat flour?
…and then there’s the GIRM §320.
The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat [and water, presumably], must be recently baked, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened.
…which seems in mild tension with the following section – §321.
The meaning of the sign demands that the material for the Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food.
What is your take on this? Would it be a good idea for parishes to have a team of bread bakers that bake bread that actually looks like bread? Or are the manna-like wafers stamped out by a machine somewhere fine enough? Let us know what you think and what your parish does.
Moderator’s note: “Non solum” is a new feature at Pray Tell for our readership community to discuss practical liturgical issues. The title comes from article 11 of the Vatican II liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: “Therefore there is to be vigilance among holy pastors that in liturgical action not only are laws for valid and licit celebration to be observed, but that the faithful should participate knowingly, actively, and fruitfully.” (Ideo sacris pastoribus advigilandum est ut in actione liturgica non solum observentur leges ad validam et licitam celebrationem, sed ut fideles scienter, actuose et fructuose eandem participent.) May the series contribute to good liturgical practice – not only following the law, but especially grasping the spirit of the liturgy!