Friday, November 30, 2007

A Moment's Thought Ruins so Much!

Demetrios and I were sitting together in our little sitting room, he, updating his address book and I, glancing through various blogs, when I heard familiar choral strains over the radio.

“Oh, that’s Panis Angelicus,” I said, turning the volume knob up.

“How’d they come up with that?” asked Demetrios, not glancing up from his work.

“’Bread of angels’. It’s a Catholic term for Holy Communion.”

“How’d they come up with that?”

There was a long moment while he looked up at me, eyebrows raised, and I stared back at him. And then it hit. This Bread was never given to angels!

Nope, not. No Body of Christ for the bodiless hosts. No blood for the forgiveness of sins for the sinless. No fountain of immortality for the already immortal ones.

So what IS up with that?


Dixie said...

I don't know the song (so I don't know the words) but when I first read the name my initial thought was Mary living in the temple being fed by the angels...and this was the food they gave her!

BUT...I grew up Roman Catholic...well educated in the faith after taking all my primary school education at the hands of the nuns and I never heard that Mary was raised in the temple until I became Orthodox. So...I am guessing my original understanding was not the intent either.

William Weedon said...

It's from Psalm 78:25. The MANNA was called the bread of the angels. And since the Manna is a type of the Eucharist...

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

William, thanks for pointing that out. That probably is indeed "how they came up with that."

Nevertheless, it's all wrong! Jesus specifically refuted it. As we read in John 6:

30 Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" [This is the verse you cited, William.]
32 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."
35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst...
41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." 42 And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves... 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

THIS bread was never the food of angels!


William Weedon said...

Dear Anastasia,

I suspect that St. Thomas just MIGHT have been familiar with John 6. ;)

Bread of angels does not mean bread the angels eat in any case. It means bread that comes from where the angels dwell, a poetic way of saying "heavenly bread." And thus also in one of our precommunion prayers we refer to "this heavenly banquet You have spread for Your children here on earth."

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Oh, POETRY! No wonder; you will never meet a less poetic soul than mine.

Poetry in matters of the faith ought to be accurate and to lead us deeper into the truth than, perhaps, prose could. This is very important, that the Faith be accurately held. "Bread of angels", does not do this.


amy said...

I was looking for a different song and came across this post, but to clarify, too, here's a translation of the Panis Angelicus lyrics:

Bread of Angels,
made the bread of men;
The Bread of heaven
puts an end to all symbols:
A thing wonderful!
The Lord becomes our food:
poor, a servant, and humble.
We beseech Thee,
Godhead One in Three
That Thou wilt visit us,
as we worship Thee,
lead us through Thy ways,
We who wish to reach the light
in which Thou dwellest.