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Why are we using circular wafers as hosts in the Mass?

by Fr. Kevin Joshua Cosme

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, a feast that was instituted in the year 1264. It is more commonly known as the feast of “Corpus Christi” which in Latin simply means, “the Body of Christ” - the same words we hear right before we receive communion.

On that note, let’s talk about why we use circular wafers called “hosts” for communion.

At the Last Supper, Jesus used unleavened bread, meaning it had no yeast and was therefore flat, because that was customary for the Jewish passover.

In the first centuries of Christianity, ordinary bread was used for the Eucharist in both leavened and unleavened forms. Eventually in the West, people thought of reserving the less ordinary and more ritual unleavened bread for the Eucharist.

As the number of Masses and communicants grew in the Middle Ages, the bread shrank and took the form of the small circular wafer that we are familiar with today.

If you think about it, unleavened bread is just flour and water baked in an oven, and that’s actually what a host is except it’s flatter, crispier, and easier to distribute.

In any case, whether you use flat hosts or real unleavened wheat bread, at the words “This is my Body which will be given up for you,” it becomes truly and completely, the Body of Christ. Except in outward appearance, no matter how small, it becomes 100% Jesus Christ himself: body, blood, soul, and divinity.

Flex our Faith Episode 2: The Holy Spirit | Aired on June 6, 2021

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