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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/830

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BREAD


750


BREAD


the Holy Eucharist, since different conclusions may be drawn, on the one hand, from the Gospel of St. Jolm and from the sj'noptic Gospels on the other. Historj" does not establish conclusively what the practice of the Apostles and their early successors was, but it may be asserted with some probability that they made use of whatever bread was at hand, whether azjinous or fermented. Different customs gradually began to grow up in different localities, and then became traditional and fixed. The Eastern Churches for the most part made use of leavened bread, as they still do, while the Western Churches declared their preference for unleavened bread. At the time of the schism this difference of practice gave rise to much discussion of the value of their respective claims in following the example of Christ, and fo- mented bitter controversy even in recent years. Either kind of bread is, of course, valid matter for the sacrifice, so the difference of u.sage should be of little dogmatic importance. (See Azyme.s).

In the primitive Church the bread and wine for the sacrifice were brought to the altar by the faithful, each contributing his share. A rehc of this practice may now be seen in the rite of consecration of a bishop, for at the Offertory the newly consecrated bishop pre- sents to the consecrator, among other gifts, two loaves of bread, one of which is gilded, the other silvered, and both ornamented with the coat of arms of the consecrator and of the bishop elect. A similar usage is found in the ceremony of the solemn canonization of saints, where at the Offertorj', one of the cardinal- priests makes an offering to the pope of two loaves of bread, one gilded and the other silvered. .-Uthough in the beginning bread which served for common use was offered at the altar, still, growing reverence for the Holy Eucharist soon effected a change, so that the altar-breads were specially prepared, assuming a round form of moderate thickness, and were stamped with a cross or some other significant religious em- blem ha\'ing special reference to Our Lord in the Eucharist. These hosts became smaller and thirmer in the Western Church until they assumed the light, wafer-like form now so common.

In the Holy Eucharist, bread thus serves for the offering of the sacrifice, and after the Consecration for the Communion of the celebrant, the clergj^, and the laity, as well as for reservation in order that Com- munion may be brought to the absent, or that the Blessed Sacrament may be adored in the tabernacle or in the monstrance. In Rome at one time it was the custom of the pope to send a part of the conse- crated bread to the priests in the titular churches that all might be united in offering the same sacrifice, so that this fermenium , as it was called, might in a spiritual sense leaven the whole mass of the faithful, and make them one with the pope in faith and wor- ship. Bishops also were once accustomed to send the Eucharistic Bread to their priests for the same purpose, and also to each other to signify that they admitted one another into ecclesiastical communion. To prevent abuses and profanation to the Sacrament, tills custom was early prohibited and soon disap- peared. The usage then began of sending blessed bread instead of the Holy Eucharist to those who did not communicate at the Mass, and to those who might wish to receive this gift as a pledge of commimion of faith. Those who did not communicate received bread offered at the Offertorj" of the JIass but not consecrated. It appears to have received no other blessing than that of the Offertory prayer, and was considered blessed because it formed part of the obla- tion. This bread is called eulogia, because it is blessed and because a blessing accompanies its use; it is also called anlidoron, because it is a substitute for the doron, the real gift, which is the Holy Eucharist. The e^dogia is prescribed in the liturgies of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom, but now it is distributed to all.


both communicants and non-communicants. It ex- isted also in the West, and is mentioned by St. Gregorj' of Tours, the Council of Nantes, and Leo IV, in terms which would make it appear a somewhat universal custom.

The little loaves or cakes of bread which received a special benediction and were then sent by bishops and priests to others, as gifts in sign of fraternal affec- tion and ecclesiastical communion, were also called eidogice. Persons to whom the eulogia was refused were considered outside the communion of the faith- ful, and thus bishops sometimes sent it to an excom- municated person to indicate that the censure had been removed. Later, when the faithful no longer furnished the altar-bread, a custom arose of bringing bread to the church for the special purpose of having it blessed and distributed among those present as a token of mutual love and union, and this custom still exists in tiie Western Church, especially in France. This blessed bread was called panis bcnedictus, panis histratus, pants lustralis, and is now known in France as pahi bcnit. It differs from the eulogia mentioned above, because it is not a part of the oblation from which the particle to be consecrated in the Mass is selected, but rather is common bread which receives a special benediction. In many places it is the custom for each family in tm"n to present the bread on Sun- days and feast days, while in other places only the wealthier families furnish it. Generally the bread is presented with some solemnity at the Offertory of the parochial Mass, and the priest blesses it before the Oblation of the Host and Chalice, but different customs exist in different dioceses. The prayer ordinarily used for the blessing is the first or second benedictio panis printed in the Roman missal and ritual. The faithful were exhorted to partake of it in the church, but frequently it was carried home. This blessed bread is a sacramental, which should excite Christians to practise especially the virtues of charity and unity of spirit, and which brings blessings to those who partake of it with due devotion. The Church, when blessing it, prays that those who eat it may re- ceive health both of soul and body: "ut omnes ex eo gustantes inde corporis et animce percipiant sanita- tem"; "ut sit omnibus sumentibus salus mentis et corporis". In some instances the pain benit was used not only with superstitious intent, and its \-irtues ex- aggerated beyond measure, but also for profane i)ur- poses. This usage was brought from France to Canada, and was practised cliiefly in the province of Quebec. There the pain bcnit was blessed imme- diately after the Asperges, and then distributed to those who assisted at high Mass. The parishioners furnished it in turn, and vied with one another in presenting as rich and fine a pain benit as possible, until finally the bishops, seeing that it entailed too much expense upon those in poorer circumstances, prohibited it. Within the last twenty-five or thirty years the custom has almost entirely disappeared.

In the present Roman ritual there are six blessings for bread. Two of these are entitled simply benedictio panis, and, as mentioned above, are often used for blessing the pain bcnit. The third, entitled benedictio panis et placentarttm (blessing of bread and cakes), is found in the appendix among the blessings which are not reser\'ed. The other three are approved for par- ticular localities, and are special blessings given under the invocation of certain saints, usually on their feast days, in order to gain special favours through their intercession. The first, approved for the Archdiocese of Cologne, is a blessing of bread, water, and salt given under the invocation of St. Hubert; the second, approved for the Diocese of Bois-le-Duc, is a blessing of bread and water under the invocation of St. Machu- tus; and the third, for the Diocese of Urgel, is a blessing of bread, wine, water, and fruit to be used on the feast of St. Blasius. Some other places have local customs