Eucharistic Bread

11-24-2019Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

Dear Parishioners,

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Together Let Us Go Forth~Juntos Sigamos Adelante Campaign. I really appreciate your generous and sacrificial giving to support the campaign. This weekend I invite those who have not yet participated to join us in supporting the campaign by filling out a pledge card to be fulfilled over the next 5 years. We all have different reasons whether or not we choose to participate in the campaign. Personally, as a religious Priest with a Vow of Poverty, even with my meager income, plus my financial obligations to my Religious Order and my family, I have enough reasons not to participate in the campaign. However, like an African Proverb says, “No matter how short a man is, he too can see the Sun.” I chose to support the campaign because I wanted to be part of this historical moment. My participation is my way of saying “thank you” to the Diocese of Phoenix and to the St. Benedict community for the love and support I have received.

Eucharistic Bread

On Monday, I met with the members of the Bread Baking Ministry, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and Sacristans to discuss some issues regarding the preparation, handling and sharing of the Eucharist in our parish. During the meeting, I was told about the history of the “Traditional Bread” we use at weekend Masses. First of all, I thank those in the Bread Baking Ministry for their commitment and service to our parish community. The biggest take away from the meeting is beginning on the 2nd Sunday of Advent, we will limit the use of the Traditional Bread to the Saturday Vigil Mass only and use regular Hosts at the Sunday Masses.

I know this is a major change for all of us and I sincerely apologize to those who feel hurt by this change. In reality, with this change we are simply extending what we have always been doing at the daily Masses to the weekend Masses. There are some reasons why the change is necessary at this time. I have prayed and reflected about this and, as a priest, my two major concerns are that this current bread leaves too many crumbs all over the floor, allowing the possibility for desecration. Also, having the bread baked by more than two dozen families, it is difficult to guarantee that the requirements by the Church about what constitutes the true elements of the Eucharistic Bread has always been followed faithfully. Other challenges range from the different taste, texture, shape and the inability to preserve and use it for Adoration. I was also told by some first-time visitors that they were not comfortable coming back to our parish because they had difficulty swallowing our Eucharist. The reason for limiting the use to one Mass is to give an option for those who feel hurt by this change and, at the same time, minimize the challenges mentioned above.

I understand and I appreciate that the bread has been a long-standing tradition at St. Benedict. It was the type of bread used in the early history of the Church. However, most parishes all over the world have generally stopped using it for some centuries back due to the practical challenges mentioned above. Pope Francis urged the Church not to cling unnecessarily to some traditions, especially when they are burdensome and cause us to lose members. I think we are at that point right now. As a parish where “All Are Welcome,” I think we should use a more friendly Eucharistic Bread, accommodating those who have problems with gluten, and remain focused on the true presence of the Lord in the Eucharist.

Thank You and Remain Blessed,

Fr. James