Altar-bread

Altar-Bread

the bread made use of in the Christian communion. This was originally unleavened (see Lu 22:15), and this custom, which is a matter of discipline and does not touch the essence of the eucharist, is still observed by the whole Latin Church, by the Armenians, and by the Maronlites. The Ethiopian Christians also use unleavened bread at their mass on Maundy- Thursday, but leavened bread on other occasions. The Greek and other Oriental churches use leavened bread, which is especially made for the purpose with scrupulous care and attention. The Christians of St. Thomas likewise make use of leavened bread composed, of fine flour, which by an ancient rule of theirs ought to be prepared on the same day on which it is to be consecrated. It is circular in shape, stamped with a large cross, the border being edged. with smaller crosses, so that when it is broken up each fragment may contain the holy symbol. In the Roman. Catholic Church the bread is made thin and circular, and bears upon it either the impressed figure of the crucifix or the letters I.H.S. Pope Zephyrinus, who lived in the 3d century, terms the sacramental bread "corona sive oblata sphericae figurae," a crown or oblation of a spherical figure (Benedict XIV, De

Sacrifcio Missae, 1, 6, 4), the circle being indicatory of the Divine Presence after consecration. The Orientals occasionally make their altar- breads square, on which is stamped a cross with an inscription. The square form of the bread is a mystical indication that by the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross salvation is purchased for the four corners of the earth — for north, south, east, and west; and, moreover, that our Blessed Saviour died for all men. In the Church of England unleavened bread was invariably made use of until the changes of the 16th century. Since that period, however, with but few exceptions, common and ordinary leavened bread has been used. The ancient rule has never been. theoretically abolished, for one of the existing rubrics runs as follows: "It shall suffice that the bread be such as is usual to be eaten, but the best and purest wheat bread that conveniently may be gotten."

 
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