Communion in Catholic Churches during the ReformationLink here!JAZZAR's PAGE
Sources:Davis, Thomas J. "The Truth of the Divine Words": Luther's Sermons on the Eucharist, 1521-28, and the Structure of Eucharistic Meaning. The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Summer, 1999),
Lovibond, Malcolm. "Eucharistic Action in Early Reformed Churches." Journal of the Society for Reformation Studies (2003): 230-244.

Wandel, Lee Palmer. The Eucharist in the Reformation: Incarnation and Liturgy. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2006.

Additional Sources:
Lindberg, C. (1996). The European Reformation 2nd edition. Published by: Blackwell PublishingMorrisroe, Patrick. "Holy Communion." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton company, 1910. 21 Sept. 2010 <>.Argument:I argue that Communion/Eucharist during the Reformation was important in the Catholic Church. However, I saw that during the sixteenth century, Communion was done differently in the Eastern, Western and Protestant churches. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Communion was done differently in the Eastern and Western Churches because of the bread used during the Communion Ceremony. The use of fermented or unfermented bread was an issue. There are many questions that I will answer throughout my research on Communion in the Catholic Churches during the Reformation. What is Communion or Eucharist? How was Communion in the Catholic Churches dispersed among the members? Who were capable of taking Communion and why? Was Communion done for salvation or cleansing of their sins? Does the Holy Communion consist of both bread and whine or bread alone in some churches? I will continue to come across questions as I continue to read more books and articles on Communion/Euchatist in which I will answer.

My paper
external image lords-supper.jpg

Communion/ Eucharist during the Reformation in the Catholic Church played an important role in the sixteenth century. However, I saw that during the Reformation the reception of communion was done differently in the Eastern, Western and Protestant Churches. The main argument during the Reformation was on the presence of Christ during Communion/Eucharist. The use of scripture, bread and wine was another important factor to consider amongst the Christians during this time. According to Lindberg, “the Eucharist was the central symbol and reality for late medieval culture. The Eucharist was presented by the church as the foremost sacrament, which supported the whole sacramental system and clerical power” (Lindberg, 1996).

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Communion is defined as “the actual reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. In which it is received by a person capable of a purely sacramental reception, spiritual reception and of a sacramental and spiritual reception” (Morrisoe, 1910). The Holy Communion is received for salvation in which sins are cleansed.

During the Reformation, Martin Luther was one of the main reformers. He was one of the reformers responsible for the beliefs in which the Christians followed during the reception of the Communion/Eucharist because of his teaching of the Eucharist. Luther focused on the Word being the primary thing of the Eucharist (Davis, 1999). Although, Andreas Karlstadt had a great impact on the Eucharist, he began to argue with Luther which caused division amongst Christians. Therefore, Karlstadt went against Luther and started preaching on the reception of the Eucharist based on his beliefs.
To give Holy Communion
To give Holy Communion

The Communion/Eucharist during the Reformation was based on the reception of bread and wine. During the sixteenth century, the reception of bread and wine were the Christians way of receiving the Lord’s Supper. In which the bread and wine was Christ’s body and blood. According to Luther, “though the bread and wine which carry Christ’s body and blood are tokens of the Word, it is the Word itself that creates a presence of Christ in the sacrament” (Davis, 1999). The scripture that explains the Lord’s Supper and the importance of receiving Communion/Eucharist is Matthew 26:26 of the New King James Version. It says “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it and brake it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Wandel, 2006). Christ “ wished this sacrament to be taken as the spiritual food of souls, to nourish and strengthen them as they lived by his life...and as an antidote to free us from daily faults and preserve us from mortal sins” (Wandel, 2006).

According to the Catholic Eucharist section in the book, The Eucharist in the Reformation “Vincent de Leon elided precisely the difference Luther had delineated between the real presence and transubstantiation: while the question of Christ’s physical or “real” presence in the Eucharist was almost as old as the Supper itself, the question of the relationship between “this” and “my body” was more recent, and the doctrine of transubstantiation, first declared orthodoxy at Lateran IV, might be said to be fully explicated only among the theologians at the Council of Trent”(Wandel, 2006). According to the Council of Trent, the faithful receive Christ “whole and entire”-his body and blood are both to be found in the bread and in the wine. Transubstantiation transforms the bread and wine both into the Christ “whole and entire,” both the body and the blood.
The two Eucharist elements were the bread and wine. The type of bread used during the Eucharist was an issue during the Reformation, whether to use fermented or unfermented, leavened or unleavened or bread made of pure wheat. The issue was based on the belief of the Church in which the Eastern Church used fermented bread and the Western Church used unfermented bread. Wheaten bread was essential, even the Protestants would be loath to regard rye or barley bread as a proper element for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper along with wine of the grape (Morrisoe, 1910).

The mode and posture of the reception of communion:
XVI on Holy Communion
XVI on Holy Communion

The modes of reception of Communion during the reformation; the high point of the Mass was not the communion of the people, but the elevation of the host (Lovibond, 2003). During the mode of reception, the wafer which was the bread was placed into the mouth of the partaker. This was to assure that the wafer was not contaminated and no wine was provided. Zwingli who distributed unleavened bread to the congregation allowed each person to bread off a morsel or mouthful with his hand and eat it; and the wine, in the same fashion Even though people during this time thought of touching the bread and cup to be awkward it was done in Zurich at the first Reformed Lord’s Supper (Lovibond, 2003).
Calvin addressed the proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper during this time. He preferred the practice of the ministers breaking the bread and serving both bread and wine directly to the communicants the believers are receiving the most holy banquet (Lovibond, 2003).
According to Malcolm Lovibond, The posture of reception of the Communion/Eucharist was of importance during the Reformation. The posture of sitting, standing, or kneeling at the table was an issue because of the way Christ administered the Lord' Supper. Therefore, if the posture of reception did not follow Christ posture then the reception of the Eucharist was seen as done differently according to that church belief.

The first posture of reception of the Communion/Eucharist was the kneeling at the table. This posture was adopted by Martin Luther, probably to provide continuity of familiar practice on the principle that what was not against scripture should be retained (Lovinbond, 2003). Although the kneeling at the table was seen as the traditional way, John Knox was against the practice of kneeling to receive communion. He believed that kneeling implied adoration of the bread and wine and was therefore idolatrous (Lovinbond, 2003). Therefore, it is not believed to be a reformed practice.

The second posture of reception of the Communion/Eucharist was the standing at the table. The 1541 Ecclesiastical Ordinances of Geneva tells us that the people were invited to come forward to the tables close to the pulpit where the ministers and the appointed persons who distribute the bread and wine from a limited number of plates and cups. According to German Johann Knell in the middle of the sixteenth century, the people were lined up to receive communion; men first, then women with the minister placing the bread into the mouth of a standing communicant with his right hand whilst holding the cup in his left hand (Lovinbond, 2003).

The third posture of reception of the Communion/Eucharist took on two parts which was the sitting at the table or sitting about the table. Sitting at the table was used by the Reformed Church of Scotland. It was suggested that the practice of sitting about the table for communion would allow the people to sit with the priest at the table (Lovinbond, 2003). This would be seen as a way of receiving the Lord’s Supper like the disciples did with Christ.
Holy Communion
Holy Communion
The Method of Administration

During the Reformation, the Communion/Eucharist was administered by the minister, deacons and priests. The Chancel and the nave were used for administering the Communion/Eucharist during the early reformation. The administering of the Communion/Eucharist should be done amongst all the people who ask except for those who are sinners. If you partake of the communion unworthily then you will bring damnation to yourself in whom you would have to go and repent and ask God for forgiveness. The Viaticum which is the sick can be given communion at any time or hour because of their illness (Morrisoe, 1910). The minister is the person who administers the Communion to the sick unless permission from the parish priest is given to a deacon or priest. The Communion may be given in all churches and public, or semi-public, oratories that are under interdict, according to a recent edict of the Congregation of Rites (8 May, 1907), even in domestic oratories at present. The faithful received communion under one kind, fermented bread and the Western-unfermented bread, it depends on the Congregation of Rite in which they belong (Morrisoe, 1910).

In conclusion, I have given support to my argument which was the importance of Communion/Eucharist during the Reformation. I addressed the presence of Christ and bread and wine during the celebration of the Eucharist. I focused on Luther who was a major reformer on how he used the Word itself, to clarify some of the issues involved in the Eucharist controversies amongst the reformers during this time. The mode and posture of the reception of Communion/Eucharist during the sixteenth century was addressed. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and other reformers input on the importance of Communion was used throughout my paper. Therefore, I can say that the presence of Christ during Communion is his body which the bread and his blood which is the wine, eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus Christ who died for all our sin.

Article Analysis #1: Eucharistic Action in Early Reformed Churches

Eucharistic Action in Early Reformed Churches by Malcom Lovinbond
Focus:During the early and reformed practices of Communion amongst the Catholic Church shows how things have changed through time. The way in which Communion is taken by the people is based on kneeling, standing or sitting. Everyone was not given Communion, some were denied based on them being unfit or worthy to take of the bread and wine. In Scotland, it was called “fencing of the table” in which you were not able to take if you were unfit.

Earlier Practices
Reformed Practices
The place where communion took place
The nave
The Chancel
Modes of Reception of Communion
Bread alone without wine and is not touched by their hand only by the person giving the communion
Bread and wine and touched by the person hand who is taking the communion
Posture for the Reception of Communion
Kneeling at the table was adopted by Martin Luther in which men and women were kept separately
Standing in line to receive communion in which you go to the table and take it for themselves or sitting at two tables where the men was at one table and the women at another and they took the bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus who died for them
Administering Communion
The wafer was placed directly into the mouth of the person to avoid contamination without wine
Unleavened bread was used at the Lord Supper each person broke a piece with their hand and ate it with wine
Implication: This was a great article because it showed how Communion took place in the earlier years as well as the reformed years. Communion was a great deal in the Catholic Church to a point where touching the bread with your hand was seen as contamination. I thought once the bread and wine was blessed by the grace of God, it was pure cleansed from all hurt, harm and danger. The different ways the people took communion during the Reformation made me realize how the churches today have changed. In the Baptist church in which I attend, I take the bread and cup of wine for myself and as a congregation we eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus Christ who died for all our sins.

Article Analysis #2 " The Truth of the Divine Words"; Luther's Sermons on the Eucharist, 1521-1528, and the Structure of Eucharist Meaning by Thomas J. Davis

The Truth of the Divine Words”: Luther’s Sermon on the Eucharist, 1521-25 and the Structure of Eucharistic Meaning by Thomas J. Davis
Focus: Luther’s Sermon on the Eucharist was based on his preaching. The teaching on the presence of the Word and Christ being the primary thing of the Eucharist. The Word itself is shown as power, forgiveness, comfort and love which should be present during the Eucharist. Also, the understanding of the bread and wine being Christ body and blood.

Luther’s Eucharistic Teaching through Sermons
The Structure of Eucharistic Meaning in Luther’s hierarchy
An Appeal to the Word of Institution: The Word of Power
The word was the instrument by which God effectively ruled his church. To stand in the way of the Word was to try to obstruct God’s purpose. The word is always a Word of power and the words of Institution by their utterance create presence, evoke faith and prepare believers for worthy reception.
Although partaking of both kinds was not a sin, Luther thought, neither should it be made into a new law; it should be left to the decision of a free conscience. It is not human work that makes the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ, it is the Word.
Declaring the Words of Benefit: The Word of Forgiveness
The Word of power, in its proper working, carries a benefit: the forgiveness of sins. If the sacrament is rightly administered, one should preach that the sacrament is the body and blood of Christ. The benefit: it effects the forgiveness of sins, as the words say “which is shed for the remission of sins.”
The benefit of the Eucharist is the forgiveness of sins does not come through the elements of bread and wine/body and blood but through the Word attached to the elements.
Heading the Word of Comfort: The Command of Right Use
Worthy reception is not based on our diligence and effort, our work and our prayers, on our fasting, but on the truth of the divine words. The Word makes clear the believer’s need, God’s power and promise to fulfill that need and the Word creates faith that enable the person to trust God to meet it. The Word of Comfort is “for you”.
In Luther’s sermon he said “this bread is a comfort for the sorrowing, a healing for the sick, a life for the dying, a food for all the hungry, and a rich treasure for all the poor and needy. The Word of Comfort is rightly used when “for you” becomes “for me”.
The Fruit of Communion: The Word of Love
The fruit of the sacrament is love in which we should treat our neighbor as God has treated us. The proper use of the sacrament bears fruit and that fruit is love; love in the sense that Christians serve one another as Christ served them, giving of himself in the Eucharist.
For true communion to take place among believers, they must become one bread with Christ. The partaking of Christ’s true body and blood enables a symbolic eating; as a worthy reception, Christians eat one another in the sense that what one has all have.
Structure and Content: Eucharistic Meaning and Incarnational Theology
God’s Word is not vocalization, or a spirit’s voice, or a disembodied will; it is Jesus Christ. One, who knows God, must know Christ. God is present in everything created.
In the Eucharist, one has to do with the bodily revelatory of the divine; the revelation itself. The spoken Work points to the bodily Word which is the truth of the Divine Word
Implication: This article on Luther’s sermon on the Eucharist, showed how the Word was present in every aspect of the structure of the Eucharistic meaning. The Word of power, forgiveness of sins, comfort and love was a way of showing that Christ was present throughout Luther’s sermon. Also, that God is present in everything, therefore, you must trust in the Word of God.