a question on the eucharist

alright catholics heres a question…

the eucharist… does it have any nutritional value?

are there factories where it is made? is the place of production large? There are many catholic churches so I’d assume it would be.

where are these “Eucharist factories”?

You’re talking about the communion wafer, not the wine, right? It has about as much nutritional value as you’d expect a small amount of flat bread to have. Some carbohydrate, but not enough to make any different to anything.

As for where it’s made, the word you’re looking for is “bakery”. It’s bread, so it gets baked. Most of the bakeries producing communion wafers that I know of are in monasteries or convents. They supply them on a commercial basis - it’s (part of) how the monastery supports itself. Often they produce other kinds of bread as well. I suppose there might also be non-religious bakeries producing communion wafers, but I don’t know of any.

A communion wafer has all the nutritional value of a very tiny piece of unleavened bread. (Or of leavened bread if you go to an Orthodox service.)

Traditionally, communion wafers are produced by various convents and monasteries. As the population has increased, various entrepeneurs have stepped in to ensure supply. One really large supplier is the Cavanagh Company. Here is a sales page (warning: .pdf) (I found lots of wholesalers carrying Cavanagh products, but no Cacvanagh web site in a really quick search.)

I remember going to mass in the UK where some of the followers baked their own bread beforehand which was used during the mass.

It’s the actual mass that makes the bread special as opposed to any blessed ‘Eucharist factories’. The only problem being that you can’t really throw away bread which is now ‘the body of Christ’, nor give it to the dog!
And as bread goes stale quickly, you have to work out how much to bake in advance so as not to produce too much.

There’s also the Atkins friendly low-carb communion wafer, marketed under the name

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Jesus

Jest not! There is heated debate over the propriety of gluten-free wafers for the caeliac Christian, and of unfermented grape juice for the alcoholic. The Roman Catholic church admits neither, on the basis that if it ain’t bread and wine, it won’t do, but some other denominations use either or both.

Disposal would be a more immediate problem not of the bakery, but of the priest – he has to avoid consecrating too many hosts (the unconsecrated ones do not need special care). If there’s excess of hosts after a Mass, these get carried over for the next one and the next one, and used for viaticum delivery of eucharist to the homebound. You can do that since the wafer is essentialy matzoh, as long as you keep it in a cool, dry place it does have a longer shelf-life than leavened bread.

If one accepts the Real Presence (and I was intrigued to find that the overwhelming majority of Christians do, when this got discussed on another message board some months ago), the point is that the bread and wine are quite simply bread and wine until set apart by the Prayer of Consecration during the Eucharist service to function as the Body and Blood of Christ. (Please note that the phrasing there is broadbased, intended to cover everything from the Methodist doctrine to transubstantiation; please don’t nitpick it, because it’s intentionally ambiguous to cover a multitude of interpretations.)

Anglicans used to be fairly consistent in using wafers but today will use homebaked bread given by a parishioner either in place of or along with the wafers – and do not object to glutenfree wafers for celiac communicants.

Probably the most startling affirmation of the point in the first paragraph came a year ago, when my wife and I, serving on the Altar Guild, were setting up the communion elements for the principal service one Sunday morning. (We’d set up on Saturday, but there are steps to take down the setup for the early service and finish preparation for the main service that have to be done in the hour between them.) Barb got out the packet (it resembles a cellophane-wrapped stack of Ritz crackers) to add wafers to the supply to be consecrated, and ended up spilling a few wafers into the potting soil left by the flower arrangers. Aghast at having done so, she looked panicked, and the priest, who was robing a few feet away, said “Throw them out.” Barb must have looked questioning, and the priest added, “They’re nothing but unleavened bread until they’re consecrated – just throw them in the trash.”

In my altar boy days, I was serving a morning weekday Mass. The crusty old monsignor discovered that there were too many consecrated hosts in the tabernacle and they were all going stale.

So what did he do? After Communion was over, he had me and the Eucharistic minister (layman who helped distribute Communion) eat them. I held out my paten and he poured about 50 of the wafers on there and I had to start chowing down.
It was neither a gastronomic nor spirtual experience to enjoy.

Gee, BobT you had a tough parish. Father N would just let me take them home to feed all the birds and squirrels that hung out in our yard. All he ever told me was that I’d go to Hell if I did anything with them besides giving them to the little animals.