Follow usTwitterFacebook

Eastern-rite Catholics use leavened bread in Holy Communion, but Roman-rite Catholics use unleavened bread. Why the difference?

Full Question

Eastern-rite Catholics use leavened bread in Holy Communion, but Roman-rite Catholics use unleavened bread. Why the difference?

Answer

The Eastern tradition likens yeast in bread to the soul in the body. The soul gives life, and therefore the “living bread” of the Eucharist must have yeast. The West uses unleavened bread because that is what Jesus used in the Last Supper.

When the Orthodox Church broke from Rome in 1054, the Patriarch of Constantinople condemned the West for using unleavened bread, but that was a spurious charge. The Council of Florence approved the use of either kind of bread in 1439, so the use of leavened or unleavened bread is a question of licitness, not validity. This was infallibly defined.

The council stated, “We have likewise defined that the body of Christ is truly effected in unleavened or leavened wheaten bread and that priests ought to effect the body of our Lord in either one of these, and each one namely according to the custom of his Church, whether that of the West or of the East” (Decree for the Greeks).

Roman-rite Catholics are not permitted to use leavened bread, however (Code of Canon Law 926). The Church desires uniformity to show that the sacrifice of the Mass is the same sacrifice everywhere. Using leavened bread would not invalidate the Eucharist, but it would be a grave error to disobey the Church and a long, venerable tradition. Eastern-rite churches in communion with Rome are allowed to retain their own tradition of using leavened bread.













5 comments

  1. emmayche Reply

    One of the other reasons for the tradition of leavened bread in the East is the “first fruits” doctrine; the highest-quality bread was leavened, and, going back to Cain and Abel, we’d rather offer our best then just the average.

  2. rymlianin Reply

    The Gospel clearly states that Christ used gr. artos (leavened bread) at the last supper, not azymes(unleavened bread) . The use of leavened bread was universal in the first centuries of Christianity as can be seen from early explanations of the Liturgy, even as late as the 9th century in the West.

  3. Larry Reply

    The Orthodox brole away from Rome – Really? Have you ever heard of Cardinal Humbertus? What about the 4th Crusade? You made some good points I your article but let’s not be so arrogant and rewrite history, please.

  4. Russell Grigaitis Reply

    The Roman Church also used to use leavened bread, as Christ did on the Thursday before all leaven was removed from Jewish homes for Passover. However, they changed to unleavened bread to emphasize the Paschal sacrifice in the Eucharist. According to tradition, the Holy Leaven used in the Assyrian Church of the East goes back to the Last Supper, in which John the Apostle kept a piece of bread given to him by Jesus, divided it between the apostles and has been used ever since to preparing sacramental bread by the Christians of the East.

    The dispute over unleavened vs. leavened bread began because the Normans had been forcing the Greeks in Byzantine Italy to conform to the Latin usage of leavened bread. In retaliation, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, demanded act the Latin churches in Constantinople adopt the Greek practice. They refused, so he closed those churches in 1052.

  5. Stephen Reply

    #1. Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7 clearly states it was on the First day of the Feast of the unleavened bread that Our Lord had His Last Supper before crucifixion. And in Luke 22:15 He said that that was a Passover meal, in textus receptus, which is in Greek, a Pascha meal. And the Torah clearly forbid the use of leavened bread in Passover meal. So, the use of word ‘artos’ doesn’t mean ‘leavened bread’, but simply ‘bread’. Period.

    #2. 1 Cor 5: 7-8 also clearly taught about to use unleavened bread, because Christ the Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed.

    #3. You cannot get the true meaning of a word if you took it out of context, or if you mutilated it. Remember that Arius fell into heresy because he based his teaching on mutilated verse taken out of context about Jesus.
    Remember that Nestorius, once Patriach of Constantinople, also fell into heresy because of the same thing.
    Don’t rely your argument only on 1 word ‘artos’ taken out of context which is the Passover Meal, and translate it as leavened bread. The Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church has been so kind to allow the use of leavened bread to eastern churches because of the hardened heart of the people of the eastern rite, just like Moses has given the Law of Divorce because of the hardened heart of Israel.
    You saw the mote of ‘artos’ and neglect the beam of ‘Passover Meal’?

    #4. Never based your argument on hatred, and don’t even dare to alter the Holy scripture. Occasion for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling blocks comes. In greek, scandal will happen, but woe to the one whom the scandal come.

    #5. I laughed so hard that somebody asked about Cardinal Humbertus above. Cardinal Humbertus and Patriach Cerularius excommunicated each other in Person! Not the whole church.
    I always wonder about the deep misunderstanding the eastern orthodox have on each disputed matter. How their pastors so succeed in planting the hatred and misleading point of view on each matter disputed. They excommunicated each other not because of teaching somekind of heresy like Arius or Nestorius, but because each person saw a different point of view, Cardinal Humbertus saw that Patriach Cerularius abused his authority on the matter of desecration of holy hosts consecrated in Latin rite churches in his diocesse and the unwillingness to responsible on the incident. While Cerularius saw that Humbertus tresspassing his authority power.
    As a Catholic, I don’t carry the burden of the incident and hype it, why each eastern orthodox person seems to take that matter on their own? Is that a ‘Christian Orthodox teaching’? To handed over hatred and misunderstanding for generations? I can’t see an apostolic teaching in that matter. What a shame.
    Do you think all roman catholic are ignorant about history? Do you think we roman catholic rewrite history, when everybody in the whole world knows when exactly the birth of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Do you follow Christ which founded His church on Peter, or you follow the self elevated authority 350 years after Christ? Constantinople not even mentioned in the bible, not even in the first 3 centuries of holy apostolic Traditions. Do you know history of christianity? Then why were you yourself so arrogant?

Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories