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A Mass by any other name 1


The Lord’s Supper 1 Corinthians 11:20 κυριακὸν δεῖπνον

There are many titles for the Christian service with bread and wine. “The Lord’s Supper” is a common one. It is used only once in the New Testament.

There was the long tradition of not celebrating the Lord’s Supper at supper time, in the evening. This was reinforced by the tradition of fasting before receiving communion from midnight.

Then there are some who insist that the Lord’s Supper can only be celebrated at supper time, in the evening.

There is also the translation issue of δεῖπνον (deipnon “supper”). Supper, at least in NZ, is the last snack of the day, consisting of maybe hot chocolate and possibly a biscuit. In this context κυριακὸν δεῖπνον is not accurately translated “Lord’s Supper”.

δεῖπνον, in fact, is not “supper”. It is the main meal of the day. It can be a more formal meal, a feast, or a banquet. In Jesus’ day it was most common to have one’s δεῖπνον after finishing work when all were together, hence in the evening. But the word δεῖπνον does not necessitate a specific time of day – it is not literally “supper” even though in some cultures the main meal would be when people in England have “supper”.

δεῖπνον is not about timing, it is about significance. δεῖπνον is the main meal, the chief meal of the day. κυριακὸν δεῖπνον is “The Lord’s Main Meal” or “The Lord’s Banquet”.

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19 thoughts on “A Mass by any other name 1”

  1. My first complaint is the illustration of the bread being a big chunky loaf; and the wine in pottery. The Passover bread is very very flat, and hosts depict this. We know Jesus went to many households some of them quite wealthy. Gold or silver wine cups would have been used, not necessarily the pottery of the ordinary people. Not that Jesus would have chosen this but that his host honoured him and his disciples for this Passover we call The Last Supper.
    As for the New Order of Mass there seem to be presentation issues still to be ironed out. This is not unusual for anything new. If the books are not suitable, get ones that are. Does each country in the catholic Church have to enforce its culture in this way?

    1. Thanks for your visit and an interesting set of comments, Mary.

      On the picture: you seem to be, possibly inadvertently, influenced by some very tired East/West propaganda – with the East promoting leavened and the West unleavened bread. I think the debate is past its use by date. 1 Cor 10:17 clearly refers to a single loaf (ἄρτος) – poorly imaged by Western wafers/hosts. We are not replicating the Passover – obviously – as your suggestion would indicate. Nor are we replicating the vessel Jesus used.

      I am not sure how your second paragraph relates to this thread. I have written of issues with the NZ RC Missal pagination – one may not use others here, if that is what you are implying. Furthermore, these are not inexpensive books, easily produced, etc.

      The thread is interested in the use of the title “Lord’s Supper”…


  2. I don’t think I had associated that term “Lord’s Supper” with communion before and the biblical reference seems to suggest it is wrong to do so.

    As for the leavened bread – it is a duty of honour and of worship in itself to bake the bread which we call Prosphora and to offer it as a gift to the church.

    Often people will bring it for a special intention, the anniversary of relatives death, say, or before going on a journey.

    There is a lot more to it than this but I found this video of a woman making the prosphera.

    Somewhere among my late parents things I have the stamp for doing it – I am inspired now to seek it out


      1. I suppose that passage that you refer to suggests that communion is something far greater than just a meal – “supper”.

        The first verse says

        20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.

        And then goes on to articulate what communion actually is – the Body and Blood of Christ.

        It supports transubstantiation in fact

        1. Thanks, Andrei. You appear to be saying now that the passage beginning at 1 Corinthians 11:20 and talking about κυριακὸν δεῖπνον is about communion – as I was understanding that passage clearly to be. I don’t think anyone here was saying that communion is “just” a meal. Certainly I don’t tend to use the word “just” much. The details of all that Paul is talking about in this passage is debated. Transubstantiation is a particular philosophical approach for what happens to the bread and wine – it involves philosophical categories that mean little to most in our contemporary context, and I cannot see them being referred to within this passage of Paul’s. Blessings.

        2. Brother David

          Andrei, I see you misunderstanding what is being taught. Yes, the Apostle is stating that the Lord’s Supper is greater than just a meal, in fact, he is chastising them that they should be gathering for the Lord’s Supper, but that the bad mannered practice that they have in their assembly doesn’t qualify as the Lord’s Supper. It’s not a packed lunch, where everyone brings from home and eats when they wish, but a ritual shared meal with significance!

  3. Dear Bosco,
    I feel that if we go back to the institution of this celebration, for that it was,the passover where this feast was instituted. We Christians celebrate the tail end of this special meal.the meal was celebrated in the late evening, the pascal lamb had been consumed we are in final preparations for the journey of our lives, our deliverance from slavery and all the interpretations from that in the present day.

    It was unleavened bread not pretty wafers with little crosses on them. it was torn and shared, it was a common cup, not the individual that was used during the rest of that meal, it was the last meal for the journey of the following morning we go out on our journey.

    The Eucharist was abstracted from this celebration, was often celebrated in a huddle in a secret place as persecution as it is in places today was rife.

    This celebration has been purloined from Gods people and institutionalized in a way not as God intended. Some people are claiming a special right that only they can perform this act with authority of God as chosen group.

    The meal is an act of sharing of equals, today’s first reading is a mirror of this intention, the jar is never empty when shared.

    We really need to get ourselves down to basics here. Plenty here to disagree about and pull to pieces – But may the Spirit of the Lord be with you all.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Chris. As you indicate – not really sure where to start conversing with your points. Let’s start with one of your first points: that it is the “tail end” that Christians are celebrating – actually the bread and wine framed the formal meal and the meal has dropped out combining the two sides of the frame. Yes this rite has been celebrated in huddles and secret places, but it was also celebrated from earliest times in grander places. And as you start with it in a Passover context, something already profoundly “institutionalised” I’m not convinced that continuing that is a criticism? Having a variety of roles does not mean there isn’t equality. We all celebrate together – a very important point to me. What I’m hoping for is more dialogue on the concept of “Lord’s Supper” (κυριακὸν δεῖπνον) and how that aspect as a title for this rite affects our understanding…


  4. When I attempted to translate the New Testament to gain more personal understanding of the Bible Jesus words leapt off the page at me during the Last Supper ( Luke 22 ) ‘you are doing this in remembrance of me’…present tense, ie. he is foretelling the disciples of his passing. Eating his body and drinking blood would be strong and shocking taboos in that time’s Jewish culture, he is using a powerful metaphor of the sacrifice he is for them.

    Regarding Passover, the seder customs used today were formalised when the Haggadah was put together in the 2 nd or 3rd centuries; the oldest copy of a Haggadah is I believe 10th century. It is an example of the evolved ritual, ‘Sedher’ is Hebrew for ‘order’.

    Exodus 12:
    ‘The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.’

    Reading that I can see how originally the discipline was for the farming tradition, so as the community moves from raising livestock symbolic representations/interpretations evolve and are used.

  5. Thank you Tracy Pace for this response. For many years I’ve lived close to the principal Synagogue in Perth WA and seen into the neighbours preparation for the Friday Shabbat meal and Saturday religious practices. The matzos bread that is made or bought from kosher shops or even Woolworths and Coles in the Synagogue neighbourhood is definitely bread without yeast and very flat.

    Maybe the Church has adapted itself to the first industrial societies too far, however post-Vatican II experiments with communion breads were not considered suitable by most congregations. When I went to a Mormon hearthside meeting (Religious Sociology course) they held communion with chunky bread and small cups of wine for each person, mostly young males with the Bishop and his wife.

    To comment that these were the illustrations of a farming community is to ignore the fact that Israel of Jesus’ time also had cosmopolitan market towns where Jesus and his friends were acquainted with different languages and Jesus own family were not farmers. As carpenters Joseph and Jesus would have moved among a wide variety of society in their region. Their work was as an artisan. In fact his movement throughout Israel indicates many contacts and illustration of teaching from these. Also Jesus’ Judaic studies were possibly with the Rabbi Gamileil a Sadducee, who was St Paul’s teacher. Jesus would however have had contact with other rabbinical groups.

    Moving into the ‘second’ industrial revolution largely based on technology and the cyberspace religious discussions still does not give the concrete connection to Church, the body of Christ and the very significant worldwide efforts that have been made to view the post-modern world and brought to us via the Vatican where representatives from all nations monitor Scripture and Tradition. God’s plan is to bring people into community based on his laws and decrees, gifts and fruits, promises and conditions that enable us to be strengthened as Christians (followers of Christ) in any part of the human world we find ourselves today.

    1. Brother David

      Mary’s comments appear to me Stacy to contain a lot of assumptions, leaps of logic and “poetic license.” if I were to be polite and kind.

      BTW, the LDS haven’t used wine for their communion ritual for well over 100 years. Those little cups contain water.

  6. I wish other churches used/offered as an alternative water David; my Methodist faith people seem to like to use ‘fruit of the vine’ phrase in the ceremony which inevitably means serving nasty-tasting grape juice here in the US!

    With so many people including myself with food intolerances now water seems a great idea. And back to the Catholic wafers of my early childhood, before my grandmother took me to be a Methodist.

    In England when I grew up it was Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry or Ribena blackcurrant juice used for Eucharist. We children loved both! though I’m sure the Euro-bureaucracy has probably chased away serving of alcohol to children by now…they seem to regulate pretty much anything and everything from Brussels ( except financial responsibility- another topic! )

  7. My understanding of some Christian communities is that – for fear of intoxication – grape-juice or water might be a preferred substitute for wine. In fact, one might believe that they would have preferred Jesus, at the wedding feast, to have turned wine into water – rather than providing the ‘best wine’ up till that moment!

    However, if someone has a problem with alcoholism or any sort of intolerance of mature wine; then to receive only the Bread of the Eucharist is surely sufficient for them. I’m sure God understands. Christ is present in both elements.

    Teilhard de Chardin had some thoughts on the actual elements that may be used at the Eucharist. This may just depend on what is actually available at the time.

    Perhaps the most important thing to remember is the fact of ‘anamnesis’ the remembrance of what Jesus was actually signifying at the ‘Last Supper’. His words were “This IS my Body, this IS my Blood. DO THIS, to remember (re-member?) me.

    Roman Catholics speak of trans-substantiation – a physical change from bread and wine into Christ’s Body and Blood. I personally, prefer the theory of con-substantiation – where, together with the elements of bread and wine – at the Eucharist – these co-exist with the Body and Blood of Christ – affording a Real Presence of Christ; crucified, risen and glorified. That works for me.

  8. Yes, I can see the point that δεῖπνον is rather more than a cup of cocoa and a biccy (though even that is more substantial than a sip of wine and a wafer!). The Lord’s Dinner would probably be more accurate even if it sounds a bit odd. But, wouldn’t you also have to change ‘The Last Supper’ so that the two remain linked? Da Vinci’s “Last Dinner”, anyone?

    Flippancy aside, doesn’t this run up against the choice between wide-ranging resonances and immediate understandability involved in bringing people into a tradition which is new to them but has been embedded in the language for a very long time?

    1. I don’t think your points are as flippant as you imply, Robert. I think there are possibly (English) cultural presuppositions uncritically translated into new contexts. Blessings.

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