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“”Peter Griffin: [sips eucharist wine] Whoah — is that really the blood of Christ!?
Catholic priest: Yes?Peter Griffin: Man! That guy must've been wasted 24 hours a day, huh?
|—Family Guy, Death Has a Shadow|
The Eucharist or Holy Communion is a
cannibal feast Christian tradition, and is one of the seven Catholic sacraments, practised within the Anglican Church, Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Lutheran Church, Methodist Church and Oriental Orthodox Church, which has been believed from the earliest days of the Church. It consists of a consecrated, or blessed, morsel of bread (typically a light cracker) and sip of wine (sometimes grape juice for the young ones).
The bread and wine, at some metaphorical or spiritual level, represent the body and blood of Christ, or, to those true Catholic believers, actually literally becomes the body and blood of Christ, which is a concept too far-fetched for non-Catholics and sometimes considered heretical. This sacrament commemorates Jesus' invocation to his disciples at the Last Supper to remember him in the same way that they were sharing bread and wine that fateful evening.
First Communion is an important rite of passage for many Christians, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
While "Holy Communion" refers specifically to the ritual of taking the bread and wine as part of a church service, "Eucharist" can refer to either the ritual or the bread itself.
This Eucharist, also known as a communion wafer or "the Host", is either a frackin' cracker, a symbolic (or not so symbolic) piece of the Body of Christ, or a worse threat of breast cancer than abortions!!!
The origin of the Eucharist lies in four New Testament texts relating the Last Supper. In all, Jesus gives bread blessed by him to the disciples, then pours out for them a
forty cup of "fruit of the vine". The accounts are divided into two groups, the Pauline-Lukan, and the Markan-Matthean. Paul's was written in 54, Mark's, in 67, Matthew and Luke's, in the 80s. Luke used Pauline tradition, while the author of Matthew used Mark as a source.
The miraculous nature of transubstantiation as described by the Catholic Church is not easy to understand. It seems to be neither a symbol of the flesh and blood of Christ, nor is it really his real flesh and blood - but something vaguely, almost indescribably, in between. It is an example of Theosophy.
Orthodox Christianity maintains beliefs about the eucharist similar to transubstantiation, although it does not resort to such convoluted theology to explain the phenomenon. In Protestant denominations, such as Anglicanism or Lutheranism, the eucharist is not generally believed to be the actual body and blood of Christ ("consubstatiation"). Some believe in a divine presence when receiving the eucharist, while others see the wafers and wine only as symbolising God's grace.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, women have traditionally been discouraged from receiving the eucharist (or communion) while they are menstruating. This dates back to the 5th century letter of Dionysus of Alexandria and 7th century Council of Trullo. Modern explanations of this vary from the claim that, while not necessarily any more sinful, women are not 'pure' at That Time Of The Month, to the view that nobody, male or female, is fit to receive the blood of Christ while they are themself bleeding, or after emitting other bodily fluids.
Given the idea that any civilization's laws and beliefs are simply modifications of both previous and current interacting neighboring civilizations, then it's highly likely that the ceremony of the Eucharist is simply an extension of human sacrifice, which was practiced by many civilizations in the region prior to and during the time when Christianity was forming. Many other civilizations believed in the power of the sacrifice, including the consumption of body and blood of the sacrifice. The Old Testament itself mentions human sacrifice. The Gauls, who sacked Rome in 390 BC, practiced it, as did the Romans themselves. It was from within the Roman civilization that Christianity formed.
Parody masses were performed in medieval times though the Roman Catholic Church later declared them sacrilegious. This fuelled the legend of the "Black Mass" as a sinister counterpart to the Catholic mass. Various more or less spurious accounts date back to Louis XIV of France at least and still crop up today. The Catholic Church tends to react with calls for Black Masses to be banned, holding prayers, fasting, sacred processions, all of which likely gives the participants in these purported Black Masses more attention (which is arguably a main motive for holding such spectacles in the first place).
Owing to the pre-Vatican II Catholic doctrine blaming Jews for Jesus's crucifixion, Medieval Jews were sometimes accused of stealing consecrated hosts and using them to re-enact the Crucifixion. Of course, these allegations are unsubstantiated, similar to the blood libel. However, many Jews were tried and executed for this "crime", sometimes confessing under torture. Host desecration is among the gravest of sins, intentional host desecration is not only a mortal sin but also incurs the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae, unlike rape or murder which can always be forgiven. Whether or not it is acceptable to desecrate the host to prevent a
greater lesser sin, such as a wine-o former altar boy gunman suffering from cracker induced OCD robbing the church that molested him as a child of their statues, while using the Eucharist as a human shield, remains unanswered.
Similar accusations were made in witchcraft trials; witch-hunter's guides such as the Malleus Maleficarum refer to hosts as being objects of desecration by witches.  It is part of many descriptions of the Black Mass, both in ostensibly historical works and in fiction. 
Webster Cook and PZ Myers
In 2008, a student, Webster Cook, allegedly stole a consecrated Host and refused to give it back. The student received death threats and Bill Donohue ranted about the "theft". PZ Myers responded to Donohue with extreme mockery and the student had to face months of stressful proceedings at his university before final acquittal. RationalWiki editors had a delightful conniption discussing the issue. In the ugly aftermath, apparently PZ Myers' university removed the link to his blog, for fear of offending more crackheads?
Though both the student and PZ were accused of plotting desecration of the sacred body of Christ, it's hard to imagine what could be worse treatment than being chewed up or swallowed, doused in acid and then flushed into the sewage system, the cracker's normal fate.
Accommodation of special needs
Controversy has also arisen from the Church's refusal to adapt the Communion rite even slightly to accommodate certain special needs. Apparently the body of Christ is not gluten-free.
- In 2001, the Archdiocese of Boston told the family of a five-year-old girl with celiac disease that it would not substitute the standard wheat-based host for a gluten-free, rice-based one when it came time for her First Communion, leading them to convert to Methodism.
- In 2004, the Church invalidated the First Communion of another celiac sufferer, an eight-year-old from New Jersey, because a sympathetic priest agreed to give her a rice wafer. 
- Men with celiac disease cannot become priests: the Roman Catholic Church has complicated rules over those who for medical reasons cannot take bread with gluten or wine. 
- In 2006, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona denied Communion to a ten-year-old autistic boy unable to swallow food with certain textures. The boy's family says he had previously received Communion without issue in Pittsburgh by having the host placed in his mouth briefly and then removed by his father before he spat it out.
Super Bowl ad mocks Eucharist
L. Brent Bozell III complained about a contest entry for a Doritos/PepsiMax ad named "Feed Your Flock" that used said food products in substitution over the Eucharist that blatantly violated the contest rules banning blasphemy:
This is appalling to any Christian who celebrates 2,000 years of reverence for the sacred Lord’s Supper. It’s especially insulting to Catholics, whose Catechism teaches that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” The communion wafer is not a tasteless snack, in desperate need of Nacho Cheese flavor; it is sharing in the Way, the Truth, and the Life offered selflessly in the sacrifice of the Christ. It is the very Body and Blood of Our Lord.
However, Bozell seemed to be making a mountain out of a molehill: examining the source that Bozell linked in his column, an Adweek article, that ad didn't even make it to the finals. Sort of like those "Bush is like a Nazi" ads submitted to MoveOn.org for their "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest but not accepted.
Contingency plans for errors in Catholic mass
Receiving the Eucharist is a lot like filming a movie, coding or performing the ritualistic routines associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; everything has to be perfect or else the dying faithful go to hell. According to the papal bul De Defectibus from Pope Pius V in 1570, the priest who is to celebrate Mass should take every precaution to make sure that none of the things required for celebrating the Sacrament of the Eucharist is missing. A defect may occur with regard to the matter to be consecrated, with regard to the form to be observed and with regard to the consecrating minister. There is no Sacrament if any of these is missing: the proper matter, the form, including the intention, and the priestly ordination of the celebrant. If these things are present, the Sacrament is valid, no matter what else is lacking. There are other defects, however, which may involve sin or scandal, even if they do not impair the validity of the Sacrament.
If the bread is not made of wheat flour, or if so much other grain is mixed with the wheat that it is no longer wheat bread, or if it is adulterated in some other way, there is no Sacrament. If the bread has begun to mold, but it is not corrupt, or if it is not unleavened according to the custom of the Latin Church, the Sacrament is valid but the celebrant is guilty of grave sin. If a priest has not been fasting for at least one hour before Communion, he may not celebrate, this excludes bits of food caught in your teeth.
If the wine has begun to turn to vinegar or to become corrupt, or if it is souring, or if it is unfermented, being made from newly pressed grapes, or if it has not been mixed with water, or if it has been mixed with rose-water or some other distillation, the Sacrament is valid, but the celebrant is guilty of grave sin. If before the Consecration a fly or spider or anything else falls into the chalice, the priest is to pour out the wine in a suitable place, put other wine into the chalice, add a little water, offer it, as above, and continue the Mass.
If before the Consecration the priest becomes seriously ill, or faints, or dies, the Mass is discontinued. If this happens after the consecration of the Body only and before the consecration of the Blood, or after both have been consecrated, the Mass is to be completed by another priest from the place where the first priest stopped, and in case of necessity even by a priest who is not fasting. If the first priest has not died but has become ill and is still able to receive Communion, and there is no other consecrated host at hand, the priest who is completing the Mass should divide the host, give one part to the sick priest and consume the other part himself. If the priest has died after half-saying the formula for the consecration of the Body, then there is no Consecration and no need for another priest to complete the Mass. If, on the other hand, the priest has died after half- saying the formula for the consecration of the Blood, then another priest is to complete the Mass, repeating the whole formula over the same chalice from the words Simili modo, postquam cenatum est; or he may say the whole formula over another chalice which has been prepared, and consume the first priest's host and the Blood consecrated by himself, and then the chalice which was left half-consecrated. If anyone fails to consume the whole Sacrament aside from cases of necessity of this kind, he is guilty of very grave sin. If anyone vomits the Eucharist, the vomit is to be gathered up and disposed of in some decent place.
If after the Consecration a fly or something of the kind falls into the chalice, he is to take it out, wash it with wine, burn it after the Mass is over, and throw the ashes and the wine which was used for washing into the sacrarium. If something poisonous falls into the chalice after the Consecration, or something that would cause vomiting, the consecrated wine is to be poured into another chalice, with water added until the chalice is full, so that the species of wine will be dissolved; and this water is to be poured out into the sacrarium. Other wine, together with water, is to be brought and consecrated. Also if anything poisonous touches the consecrated host, the priest is to consecrate another and consume it in the way that has been explained, while the first host is to be put into a chalice full of water and disposed of as was explained regarding the Blood in the paragraph above in case you've forgotten already.
If before the Consecration the host is found to be broken, it is to be consecrated anyway, unless the people can see plainly that it is broken. But if there may be scandal for the people, another host is to be taken and offered. If the broken host has already been offered, the priest is to consume it after the ablution. If the host is seen to be broken before the offerings however, another complete host is to be taken, if this can be done without scandal and without a long delay. 
Whether or not a mass administered by a chaplain using broken crackers and contaminated wine still counts for christian soldiers at war, or whether the imperfections negate their having attended mass ona regular before their deaths, damning them to hell for eternity is not addressed. Fortunately an octogenarian priest doesn't have to meet the high standards of the Eucharist or else forgetting a word or pausing too long and repeating themselves would make their mass as unholy and void as a bible filled with typos from a bad printing press.
Nutritional value and taste
Crackers, especially wholemeal crackers, are
carb nightmares fairly healthy food, being low in fat. Eaten on their own, crackers tend to taste dull, so people often jazz them up with rather fatty toppings which may or may not be healthy.
This recipe for eucharistic bread should taste better.
Red wine is rich in tannins and a little a day promotes heart health; also, wine is safer to drink than water in many places. Sacramental wine is similar nutritionally to other wine though it may taste worse.
The central tenet of Catholicism is the belief that the communion actually turns to blood and flesh in their mouth. Aside from the obviously macabre connotations, as anyone who's ever cut their lip knows, blood tastes salty, unlike wine and if Idi Amin is to believed, human flesh tastes rather salty too, unlike wafer.
- "Catholic Answers - The Real Presence (Fathers)", retrieved 15 May 2011
- Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: The Mass
- A "heretical doctrine" according to the Catholic Encyclopedia
- Canons and Rulings . . . Accepted in the Synod in Trullo, Letter of Dionysus, Canon II. "Menstruous women ought not to come to the Holy Table, or touch the Holy of Holies, nor to churches, but pray elsewhere".
- See "Menstruation, Emissions, and Holy Communion", and "Abstaining from Eucharist During 'that time of the month?'" forum. This also includes discussion of whether a guy can receive communion after he has had a wet dream.
- © Mike Stanfill, used under CCA 3.0 permissions.
- Misconceptions about the Middle Ages
- What's a Black Mass, and Why Was One Banned From Harvard's Campus?
- Tulsa bishop urges prayer, fasting in response to black mass Harvard’s Satanic Black Mass Site Moved
- Summers, Montague, ed. The Malleus Maleficarum of Kramer and Sprenger, 1948. Originally in Latin, Germany, 1487. e.g. Part II, Question I, Chapter IV:"...they are bound to observe certain other abominable ceremonies at the command of the devils, such as to spit on the ground at the Elevation of the Host."
- Rhodes, H.T.F. The Satanic Mass, 1954 and Zacharias, Gerhard The Satanic Cult, 1980
- "'Body of Christ' Snatched From Church, Held Hostage By UCF Student"
- Of course, it was offered to him with only the implication that he would be expected to immediately consecrate it to his esophagus, tummy, intestines, bowels, and poop it out, and be done with it.
- "Florida Student Abuses Eucharist"
- It's a Frackin' Cracker
- Webster Cook's Second Impeachment Trial is Over
- here it was, and here it isn't (retrieved 2008-07-11 11:30 PM EST).
- They're much tastier dipped in chocolate
- Dear Bill, Your Crackers are Tastier With Chocolate.
- Doritos and Pepsi Mock God
- Doritos Pepsi Max "Feed the Flock"
- "Defecit" Dailycatholic