Unleavened Bread in the Eucharist

Originally posted 3/6/2009.

1. The Eastern Orthodox Church rejects the legitimacy of unleavened bread,{1} but the Catholic Church does not attack the legitimacy of leavened bread. Latin Catholics follow the institution of our Lord, Who did not transgress the Law [Mt 5:17] and thus used unleavened bread at the Last Supper [Mt 26:17; Mk 14:12; Lk 22:7]. Such use is fitting because it conforms to the sincerity of the faithful [1 Cor 5:7] and the fact that the body of Christ was not conceived with any corruption.


Notes & References
{1} Two Epistles of Patriarch Michael I Cerularios of Constantinople to Patriarch Peter III of Antioch; Encyclical of Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus (1440); Council of Constantinople with Patriarchs Jeremiah II Tranos of Constantinople, Silvester of Alexandria, and Sophronios IV of Jerusalem (1583); Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs Anthimos VI of Constantinople, Hierotheos II of Alexandria, Methodios of Antioch, and Cyril II of Jerusalem to Pope Pius IX of Rome (1848); Encyclical of Patriarch Anthimos VII of Constantinople to Pope Leo XIII of Rome (1895).

East: Priest Origen of Alexandria
2. “According to Origen (Commentary on Matthew, XII.6 [PG 13:988CD989ABC]) the people of the East ‘sometimes,’ therefore not as a rule, made use of leavened bread in their Liturgy.” Pohle, Joseph. “The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrament.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 1 Aug. 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05584a.htm>. Although Origen is an ecclesiastical writer and not a Church Father, his early witness regarding this truth of history is reliable.

East: Patriarch St. Gregory the Theologian of Constantinople (Doctor)
3. The Theologian says [Oration 1:3 in PG 35:397A],

Yesterday the Lamb was slain and the door-posts were anointed, and Egypt bewailed her Firstborn, and the Destroyer passed us over, and the Seal was dreadful and reverend, and we were walled in with the Precious Blood. Today we have clean escaped from Egypt and from Pharaoh; and there is none to hinder us from keeping a Feast to the Lord our God–the Feast of our Departure; or from celebrating that Feast, not in the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, carrying with us nothing of ungodly and Egyptian leaven.

Patriarch St. John I Chrysostom the Great of Constantinople (Doctor)
4. The greatest Christian preacher of all time says that Christ used unleavened bread at the Last Supper [Homily 84:2 on the Gospel of St. Matthew in PG 58:754]:

And why did they lead Him away there where they were all assembled? That they might do all things with consent of the chief priests. For he was then high priest, and all were waiting for Christ there, to such a degree did they spend the whole night, and give up their sleep for this object. For neither did they then eat the passover, but watched for this other purpose. For John, when he had said that “it was early,” added, “they entered into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover” [John 18:28]. What must we say then? That they ate it on another day, and broke the law, on account of their eager desire about this murder. For Christ would not have transgressed as to the time of the passover, but they who were daring all things, and trampling under foot a thousand laws. For since they were exceedingly boiling with rage, and having often attempted to seize Him, had not been able; having then taken Him unexpectedly, they chose even to pass by the passover, for the sake of satiating their murderous lust.

West: Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome (Doctor).
5. The holy pillar of orthodoxy says in Sermon 63:7:

This it is that rescues from the power of darkness and transfers us into the Kingdom of the Son of God. This it is that by newness of life exalts the desires of the mind and quenches the lusts of the flesh. This it is whereby the Lord’s Passover is duly kept “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” by the casting away of the old leaven of wickedness [1 Corinthians 5:8] and the inebriating and feeding of the new creature with the very Lord. For naught else is brought about by the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ than that we pass into that which we then take , and both in spirit and in body carry everywhere Him, in and with Whom we were dead, buried, and rose again, as the Apostle says, For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. For when Christ, your life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory [Colossians 3:3-4].

The Latin can be found in a PDF file at http://documentacatholicaomnia.eu/04z/z_0440-0461__SS_Leo_I._Magnus__Sermones_ad_Romanam_Plebem-Pars_Secunda_LII-XCVI__LT.pdf.html.

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