Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What bread? What wine?

Rome has issued clarifications regarding the elements to be used in the Mass. This was necessary because of the frequent use of questionable elements which call into question the Sacrament itself. According to Rome, the Sacrament has both matter (elements) and form (Words of Christ pronounced over the elements) and both are required for the Sacrament to be valid. While Lutherans do not use the same distinctions, the message ought to sound an alarm for the manifold violations of the elements the Lord used and tradition has affirmed as well as consideration to the Verba themselves and the tendency for some to paraphrase the Words of Christ.
“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. Hosts should obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools” (n. 48).

“The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances. […] Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured. It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance, for the Church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments. Nor are other drinks of any kind to be admitted for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter” (n. 50).
My own associate has come back from visits to other LCMS churches with an experience of other choices between wheat hosts and grape wine.  His experience and mine, along with the reports from our members, means that people are using a variety of things in the Sacrament -- practices which violate the Lord's intention.  This is everything from the low gluten hosts that may be used without question (for those with real issues and not simply a choice to follow a gluten free diet) to rice based "bread" and low alcohol wine (mustum) to grape juice (good old Welch's) and other fruit juices (from apple to whatever). 

“Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread” (A. 1-2).
Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist” (A. 3).
I am not in a position to say that such Sacraments that violate form or matter are not Sacraments but anything that would draw our confidence away from the Word of Christ that we are receiving what He promised is not a good thing but a grave abuse of the Sacrament.  No pastor or parish has the right to determine what works best for them in this regard.  While we do not have the same structures as Rome does, the District President is clearly locally responsible for episcope, supervision of doctrine and practice and this is something every DP needs to deal with.


Carl Vehse said...

Why, in an article about the communion elements by the pastor of a LCMS congregation, is the May 1983 LCMS-CTCR document, "Theology and Practice of The Lord's Supper," not discussed or even mentioned?

Is the CTCR document considered to be heterodox?

Pastor Peters said...

The post was too long. . . wait until the second part, with CTCR report quotes, tomorrow. . .

Anonymous said...

Recently I visited a Methodist congregation that offered wine, Welch's, and apple juice, your choice. But then, it was evident in many other things as well that they really are not too concerned with what Jesus Christ had to say about anything.