Do you chew?

Do you chew?

Amy mentions a purported Eucharistic miracle in Dallas, which supposedly started when a boy spit out a Host that didn’t dissolve in his mouth. that started a discussion with Melanie about whether you should only let the Host dissolve or whether it’s okay to chew it.

Certainly, in the recent past in some places there was a strict injunction against chewing—if not in Church law, at least in customary practice. I suppose it was determined to be disrespectful to go chewing on Jesus. On the other hand, The Lord is present under the appearance of bread and wine for a reason. He is true food and true drink.

Moreover, in John 6:54, Jesus tells us that he who “eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” The Greek word used there translated as “eat” is trogo, which literally means “to gnaw, to chew.” That’s very graphic and deliberate language. Certainly there are other words John could have chosen: esthio, phago, and others. In fact those words are used earlier in the chapter, but the more those who hear him in the Bread of Life discourse persist in their unbelief, the stronger his language becomes until he uses the very graphic trogo.

So what does this mean for us? I don’t think there’s a definitive teaching here, but I have to think that there’s nothing wrong with consuming the Host like you would any natural (as opposed to supernatural) food. Jesus gives Himself to us in the form of Bread, and I think he expects us to eat Him.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
6 comments
  • I would say I can’t find any justification for telling someone not to chew; so it has to be a matter of personal preference.

    I can see nothing actually irreverent about chewing; I realize some may feel that way, and I offer no quarrel for such folks; but in thinking about it, I can see nothing more irreverent about chewing or not. After all, we know (regardless of how we feel) that consuming the host does not “harm” Jesus. It cannot, of course.

    What do I do? To be honest, I am not sure, since I receive the Eucharist at the altar, as I am celebrating Mass; so I immediately drink from the cup, then take hosts to the servers, etc. At daily Mass, I frequently consume several hosts at the end. Chewing is hard to avoid, then.

  • I use the roof of my mouth to snap it in half once and then let it dissolve.  Something about using my teeth seems to me harsher than the roof of my mouth.  Although I see no problem with someone chewing.

  • May I say . . . and I sincerely do not want to cause anyone any unhappiness, but . . .

    There is something very satisfying, very meaningful, in “chewing” the Body of Christ.

    What I mean is this. Here, our great God and Creator has condescended to come to earth—as our Jewish siblings would say, “it would have been enough!” But then, He does more: he gives himself to us in the Church, in the sacraments, in the Mass, in the Eucharist.

    He nourishes us; he is our life, our “supersubstantial bread.” Our God and Lord, become Man, and become our Daily Bread, is substantial, and secure, and strong . . . “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

    May I say? Will it cause scandal to say this? When I celebrate Mass, and I savor the taste of the Eucharist, the Body and the Blood, I taste the accidents, and consider the goodness of creation—I am glad that the Host, the Blood, tastes good!

    The creation, including the wheat and the grape, awaited the Incarnation, and now they are lifted up, transformed, and put to the service both of the Creator and the creature!—so that I might understand, all ways, who He is to me. He nourishes me, he loves me, he sustains me. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

  • Doesn’t “body and blood” include nerve endings, the chewing of which causes real pain?  I vaguely recall some older literature putting forth that idea.

  • Kevin:

    While the whole Christ is truly, really present, his presence is not physical in the way that I am physically typing at this moment—hence, there are no bones, no nerve endings, etc. Someone may go off on me for saying this, but this is precisely why we don’t say his is “physical” presence.

  • I don’t “chew”, gnaw or nibble. 

    I wonder what the actual translation is for “drink”?  Is it “slurp”?

    (I don’t drink either)

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