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Eucharistic Communion with Bread Only

Question: Why do Catholics take the bread only during communion?

Answer: The Lord wants His disciples to partake of both the bread and the wine in remembrance of His body and blood given for us. The Bible says,

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:26-28).

Jesus gave bread and wine to all the apostles present at the meal. Jesus emphasized that all should take the cup: “Drink from it, ALL OF YOU.” This was the practice of the apostolic church, and the general practice in all churches down to the twelfth century. We also notice that the Eucharist was celebrated during a meal (“as they were eating”).

In the fifteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church decided to establish a new and binding rule -- namely, that the laity should receive only the bread, as expressed in the following citation:

Although Christ instituted this venerable sacrament after a meal and ministered it to his apostles under the forms of both bread and wine, nevertheless and notwithstanding this, the praiseworthy authority of the sacred canons and the approved custom of the church have and do retain that this sacrament ought not to be celebrated after a meal nor received by the faithful without fasting…although this sacrament was received by the faithful under both kinds in the early church, nevertheless later it was received under both kinds only by those confecting it, and by the laity only under the form of bread…it should be held as a law which nobody may repudiate or alter at will without the church's permission (Council of Constance, Session 13).

This rule was re-affirmed by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, adding a curse on anyone who dares to say that it is a precept of God that all Christians should receive both bread and wine:

If any one saith, that, by the precept of God, or, by necessity of salvation, all and each of the faithful of Christ ought to receive both species of the most holy sacrament not consecrating; let him be anathema (Council of Trent, Session 21, Canon 1).

So, the Roman Catholic Church freely admits that:

  1. The first Eucharist was taken during a meal, and not after a fast.

  2. The apostles received both bread and wine.

  3. The early Christians took both bread and wine.

Yet, despite the Biblical teaching and the tradition of the early church, the Roman Catholic Church presumes to have the power to enact different rules (e.g., obligatory fasting before communion and partaking only of the bread by the laity) on the basis of the authority of the magisterium.

While these rules are not the most serious errors with regard to the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, they do show clearly that Rome’s claim to infallibly teach God’s Word is a sham. They do not teach God’s Word; they teach their own! By their own presumed authority and with complex arguments, the Catholic bishops twist the evident meaning of the Bible to replace it with their own inventions. Was it not for this same attitude that Jesus rebuked and warned the religionists of His time? Is His warning not applicable to the Catholic magisterium today as well? “This people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men… making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:6, 13).

© Dr Joseph Mizzi