Daily Supersubstantial Bread… 24Jul2016

Divine Mercy image (3) (2)“I want to tell you that eternal life must begin already here on earth through Holy Communion. Each Holy Communion makes you more capable of communing with God throughout eternity.”                   

 Words of Jesus to St. Faustina as shared in her Diary, par. 1811


When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He probably did so in Aramaic but Matthew and Luke wrote in Greek. Both of them use a Greek word used no where else in the New Testament: epiousion. What does it mean? St. Jerome used two different Latin words when he translated it.

In Luke’s rendition, Jerome used the Latin, cotidianum, meaning daily, but when he translated Matthew’s he used the Latin, supersubstantialem, meaning supersubstantial. The Latin rendition of the Our Father used cotidianum and today we say daily bread instead of supersubstantial bread but the longer word retained usage in Church history. Aquinas used it three times it in his Summa, Leo XIII used it in his 1902 encyclical, Mirae Caritatis, and there is more.

At the Council of Trent, in 1551, Pope Julius III, issued the Decree On the Most Holy Eucharist, to reiterate the Truth of the Holy Eucharist and combat its devaluation as was being promoted by the Protestants. It says that we:

…may believe and venerate these sacred mysteries of His body and blood with that constancy and firmness of faith, with that devotion of soul, that piety and worship, as to be able to receive frequently that “supersubstantial bread” (Mt. 6:11), and that it may be to them truly the life of the soul and the perpetual health of mind, that… after the journey of this miserable pilgrimage, they may be able to arrive in their heavenly country to eat without any veil that same bread of angels (Ps.77:25), which they now eat under the sacred veils.

It seems that Julius III had in mind not one but both of Jerome’s translations: daily and supersubstantial. It’s worth pondering, on a personal level, when we consider the tremendous mystery with which we are confronted as frequently as we choose to partake of it.

Deacon Richard

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