Communion Elements – Bread and Wine
Communion is a Christian right that is also considered one of the seven sacraments. The rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper and involves the act of passing out bread and wine in memory of Him. The bread represents the body of Christ and the wine represents His blood. Through communion, Christians are reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus and the commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.
There are only two elements required for communion: bread and wine. These two elements are consecrated prior to the Eucharistic celebration, transforming them from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Substitute communion elements may also be used in place of bread and wine. Grape juice is a popular substitute for wine and wafers are often used in place of bread. Gluten-free bread is another common replacement.
Before consuming the bread or wine, the items are consecrated on an altar. The communicants generally recognize a special presence of Christ during the rite. While the bread and wine do not actually undergo a physical change, most Catholics believe that the substances actually become the body and blood of Christ in another manner. This process is called transubstantiation. Other Christians believe the spiritual presence of Christ can be found in the Eucharist while others believe the act of communion is more of a symbolic reenactment of the last supper.
Communion elements have changed and evolved over time to meet the demands of a changing population. While bread and wine were the original communion elements, wafers and single-serving cups of juice have quickly grown in popularity. These alternative elements are less expensive, less reactive and easier to procure in single-serving quantities.
Wafers are easier to distribute than bread, smaller and less likely to trigger an allergy. They are typically used as a stand-in for unleavened bread and are consecrated prior to communion in the same fashion as the other elements. Wafers have a better storage life than bread and are more cost-effective.
Another lower-cost alternative to traditional communion elements is grape juice. Grape juice in place of wine allows underage members of the church to participate in communion. It is also available in small, single-serving cups for improved sanitation and a lowered risk of spreading disease. Traditionally, the wine was sipped from a communal chalice. The chalice now plays more of a symbolic role in most communion celebrations.
Sacrament of Communion
Communion typically occurs at the end of a Mass service. Those wishing go to receive communion will stand up and form lines to the front of the church. The priest will place a communion wafer in their mouth or in their hands, and they will be offered a small amount of wine or juice in a communion cup, which they should sip immediately. They will then return to their places and are encouraged to immediately begin silent prayer.
Though there are some conditions that would exclude a person from receiving communion, most members of the church are eligible provided their souls are free from the guilt of a mortal sin and they believe that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ.
The first communion is a special ceremony in some Christian denominations where a person receives the Eucharist for the first time. It typically occurs between the ages of 7 and 13, and is looked at as a rite of passage. The first of the holy communions is often marked by a party or celebration. During the communion service, a special communion scripture may be read and all individuals receiving their first communion may approach the altar together.
Serving and Storing Communion Elements
Communion elements are served and stored in special containers. From tabernacles to house excess communion wafers between services to patens to present wafers during communion, Matthew F. Sheehan carries the best selection of Mass tools at value prices. Whether you’re looking for an individual tool or a complete Mass set, you’ll find the items you need to store and serve communion elements at Matthew F. Sheehan.
Mass tools are typically made of gold or have a heavy gold plating. This is meant to preserve the integrity of the communion elements and to properly honor them. Mass tools may also have a white gold or sterling silver finish depending on the style of the piece, its function and the price of the item. There are no rules governing the style, size or finish of Mass tools, though communion elements are usually locked away between uses to ensure their purity and to ensure only those that are worthy have access to the blood and body of Christ.
Visit Matthew F. Sheen to find Mass kits in all styles and finishes. We carry everything you need to celebrate the Eucharist in style and to serve your communion elements the proper way. Shop now and get the tools you need for less.