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CHAPTER LXIX: WHAT KIND OF BREAD AND WINE SHOULD BE USED IN THIS SACRAMENT
WE have already said that this sacrament is celebrated with bread and wine: hence, the valid celebration of this sacrament requires that the bread and wine used for the purpose satisfy the essential conditions of bread and wine. Now wine is no other liquor but that which is pressed from grapes, and bread, properly speaking, must be made from grains of wheat. True, the name of bread is given to other kinds that supply the lack of wheaten bread; and other liquors are given the name of wine. But this sacrament cannot be celebrated with any other kind of bread or wine; nor with any bread or wine that is so mixed with other materials that the species of bread or wine is destroyed. On the other hand, if the bread or wine be affected by accidents that do not affect the species of bread or wine, it is clear that, notwithstanding such accidents, the sacrament may be validly performed. Thus, since it is not essential to bread that it be leavened or unleavened, and whichever it happens to be, the essential conditions of bread remain, the Sacrament may be validly celebrated with either. For this reason different Churches have different uses in this respect. Indeed either use is in keeping with the signification of the Sacrament. As Gregory says in his Register: The Roman Church offers unleavened bread, because our Lord took flesh without union of sexes: but the Greek Churches offer leavened bread, because the Word of the Father was clothed with flesh, as leaven is mixed with the flour: and is true God and true man.
However, the use of unleavened bread is more becoming to the purity of the mystic Body, i.e., the Church; in as much as this purity is represented in this sacrament, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Cor. v. 7, 8), Christ, our pasch, is sacrificed: therefore let us feast . . . with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
This excludes the error of certain heretics who say that this sacrament cannot be celebrated with unleavened bread: moreover, such a view is altogether opposed to the authority of the Gospels. For we are told (Matth. xxvi., Mark xiv., Luke xxii.) that our Lord, on the first day of the Azymes, partook of the pasch with His disciples, and afterwards instituted this sacrament. Now it was unlawful for the Jews to have leavened bread in their houses on the first day of the Azymes (Exod. xii. 15): and as long as He was in the world our Lord kept the law. It is, therefore, evident that He changed unleavened bread into His body, and gave it to His disciples to eat. Consequently it is foolish to condemn, in the use of the Latin Church, that which our Lord observed in the institution of this sacrament.
It must be noted however that some say that He anticipated the first day of the Azymes on account of His imminent Passion, and that he therefore used leavened bread. In their attempt to prove this they offer two reasons. In the first place, we are told that our Lord, before the festival day of the pasch (Jo. xiii. 1), kept with His disciples the supper at which He consecrated His body, as the Apostle relates (1 Cor. xi. 28). Hence it would seem that Christ kept the supper before the day of the Azymes, and consequently used leavened bread in consecrating His body. They think to confirm this by the fact that on the Friday, on which Christ was crucified, the Jews went not into the hall of Pilate, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the pasch. Now pasch here means the Azymes. Therefore they conclude that the supper was celebrated before the Azymes.
To this we reply that according to the Lord's commandment (Exod. xii. 15), the feast of the Azymes was observed during seven days. The first of these, which was the fifteenth day of the month, was more holy and solemn than the others: but since the Jews commenced their festivals the evening before, they began to eat unleavened bread the evening of the fourteenth day, and continued to eat it during the seven following days. Hence we read (ibid. 18, 19): The first month, the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the same month in the evening. Seven days there shall not be found any leaven in your houses. In the evening of that same fourteenth day the paschal lamb was slain. Accordingly, the fourteenth day of the month is called by the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, the first day of the Azymes, because in the evening the Jews ate unleavened bread, and the pasch, namely the paschal lamb, was slain. This is what John means by saying: Before the festival day of the pasch, that is to say, before the fifteenth day of the month, which day was the most solemn of all. On this day the Jews desired to eat the pasch, that is the paschal unleavened bread, but not the paschal lamb. Consequently there is no disagreement among the Evangelists, and it is clear that Christ at the supper consecrated His body from unleavened bread. Therefore the Latin Church has good reason to use unleavened bread in this sacrament.
- ↑ Innocent III. implicitly, De Sacr. Miss. iv. 4.
|Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. by The English Dominican Fathers from the latest Leonine Edition, Benzinger Brothers: New York, 1924.|