Thursday, July 08, 2004

Whatcha Eatin'? Nut 'n Honey!

I was following a discussion over at Ad Limina Apostolorum concerning liturgical abuse, particularly with regard to the ingredients in the bread used in the mass. I remember going through this issue when I ran across this recipe for Eucharistic bread used at a parish with which I was familiar:
3 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/4 c white flour
2 Tbls. oil
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 warm water
1/2 c honey
1/4 tsp baking powder

Start with flour, baking powder all mixed into one mound. Make a hole in the center of the mound, Mix honey with warm water, cut in oil, add to flour. (The dough will be sticky) Pinch off quantity of dough that you can easily work with, sprinkle with flour then roll to desired thickness. Push up edges with finger tips and roll smooth so that edges do not taper off (otherwise they will turn crispy).

Baking time and temperature depend on the size and thickness of the bread. For bread 1/4 inch thick try 325 for 10 minutes. Remove and brush with oil or margarine. Return to oven for a few minutes - Watch Carefully! - At the first sign of brown on top take out! Put on wire rack. When cool, test that it is not hard, especially at edges. Put in ziplock bag.
As you can see, 1/2 cup of honey is mixed in. Since I had questions about this recipe, I contacted the Archdiocesan Office for Worship to see what they thought. They agreed with my concerns and said that though some people use honey mainly as a way to keep the dough from getting dry and to ensure texture, it was illicit and should not be done. They indicated that one of the main reasons why this should not be done was because validity was questionable depending on the quantity added. They pointed me to a section of the Pastoral Companion to the Code of Canon Law:
The Code indicates that for validity the bread must be made substantially of wheat flour. If there are any additives in it they cannot be such that the bread would no longer be considered wheat bread according to the common estimation... The judgment concerning the validity of the substance to be used as Eucharistic Bread must be based on the bread's contents, not its appearance. Thus, knowing the composition of the bread, if the common estimation of persons would judge that it is wheat bread [it] would be valid matter even if there are other additives. However, it is illicit to use any additives at all to the wheat and flour.
This seems to be saying that the addition of extra elements, while certainly illicit, may not necessarily constitute invalid matter if the result is still considered to be wheat bread according to the common estimation. A little vague! I know from experience that those who received this particular bread with honey certainly judged the bread to be just that. This seems to agree with Redemptionis Sacramentum, paragraph 48:
It follows therefore that bread... mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter...
I could imagine that if the recipe had called for four cups of honey and the common estimation was that they were receiving "consecrated" honey cakes instead of wheat bread, then the sacrament would most certainly not be valid. I suppose there is no real fine line and the best advice is simply Don't go there! If you have talented bakers and bake your own bread, use licit ingredients. The Office for Worship recommends its own recipes for those who wish to bake using licit ingredients. Oh, and don't drop your crumbs all over the floor.

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