Wine & Bread for Communion

Wine and Bread for Communion

I received an email during the week with this question:
A friend of mine who owns a winery recently offered to donate to his local Catholic parish several cartons of his wine to use for Communion at Mass. The parish priest told him that he could not accept his offer as only wine from Church-approved sources can be used. My friend found this very strange and I do too. Is it correct?

The requirements for communion wine are spelt out in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Code of Canon Law: it must be from the fruit of the grape, pure and natural, and not mixed with any other substances.

Any wine made from grapes is acceptable, as long as it has not been fortified with non-grape spirits. It can be red or white; the colour is not stipulated.

The prayer texts describe the wine we offer at Eucharist as “fruit of the vine and work of human hands”. The words become more meaningful when the hands that have made the wine belong to members of our parish or of our local community. Using local wine for Mass has other advantages as well: it lessens the need for goods to be transported unnecessarily and it supports local businesses.

So home-made wine can be used in the celebration of Eucharist as long as it meets Church requirements, and so can home-made bread. Home baked bread allows a community to offer its own gifts for the Eucharist. While hosts are quicker and easier to use than real bread, it is perfectly possible, and common practice, to make bread at home that meets the requirements for valid matter in the celebration of Eucharist as set out in paragraph 320 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:
“The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat, must be recently baked, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened. “

Vatican II called for the liturgical symbols to be made clearer and more meaningful. The General Instruction takes this up in relation to the bread for Mass in the paragraph that follows:

“By reason of the sign it is required that the material for the Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food. Therefore, it is desirable that the Eucharistic Bread, even though unleavened and made in the traditional form, be fashioned in such a way that the priest at Mass with the people is truly able to break it into parts and distribute them to at least some of the faithful. …. The gesture of the fraction or breaking of bread … will bring out more clearly the force and importance of the sign of the unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity, by the fact that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters.” (# 321)

Home baked bread looks real food (and smells and tastes like it too!) and can be broken and shared.
While hosts are more convenient, it is sad to think that we can become so used to second-best that we do not value the real thing.

Elizabeth Harrington