Is bread available for the Eucharist in the war zone in Gaza Strip?

Submitted by munir on Tue, 02/27/2024 - 08:01

Holy Masses are celebrated on daily bases in churches around the world. During Holy Masses, the faithful take communion which helps them stay in direct communion with the Lord. Actually, the communion helps strengthen and encourage one through walking in the steps of Lord Jesus Christ.


The word communion comes from a Greek word which means “to give thanks”. This makes sense because in communion one gives thanks for what Lord Jesus has been doing to humanity. As the bread we eat and the wine we drink symbolize Lord Jesus’ body and blood given for us, it is important to realize that the Holy Communion instills in the believers a feeling of joy and satisfaction by coming in close communion with the Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ, and enjoying His noble presence in one’s life.


Th Church has all the time stated that the bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made from wheat, must be recently baked, and must be unleavened. With the war raging in the Gaza Strip, the conflict has prevented Christians from receiving this sacrament. In the only Catholic parish in the area, namely the Holy Family Church, daily Masses continue to be celebrated. When the basic materials for making the Eucharistic bread became scarce, the priority lies in searching for resources.

Pastor of the Holy Family Church in Gaza Fr. Gabriel Romanelli says, “At the beginning of the war, for two-and-half months, we had two Masses, at dawn and at dusk. But now we have to save the bread and wine because wine is also not available—but it wasn't even in peace times. Because for different cultural and legal reasons, it is prohibited. So, wine is brought twice a year: Once by the Nuncio and once by the patriarch or the bishop. And we use it in small doses. Now, literally in little drops. The conflict in Gaza has been going on for years. As a result, the decision was made to make the communion bread inside the parish of the Holy Family. Religious and lay parishioners gather the ingredients, prepare the dough and shape the bread that will later be consecrated and administered during Holy Mass.”

He adds, “A month after we started making the bread, we had a First Communion, where eight children—four Catholics and four Orthodox—received the Eucharist. The Orthodox can receive the sacraments in the Catholic Church if they are properly prepared. And this was one case. The parents received Holy Communion as well.”


It was on January 6, 2024 the day of the Baptism of the Lord, when this group of children received their First Communion—despite the violence raging around them.


Actually, the Eucharist is Lord Jesus Christ Himself, not a symbol of Him. Jesus, Himself states this at the Last Supper: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.' And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’.”


The elements of bread and wine are transformed by the words of consecration spoken by the priest, who is acting in the person of Christ at Mass. At the words of consecration, the substances of bread and wine are transformed into “the Body and Blood of Jesus”, while retaining their accidental properties, such as looking like bread and tasting like bread.


With the significance of the Eucharist’s role in quelling doubts about God’s presence in one’s life that instils in one the strength to bear the chores and burdens of life, it helps one see oneself the way the Lord does for humanity despite repeated failures.


In light of the difficulty to provide the Eucharist on regular bases in Gaza Strip, it is to be admitted the Lord resides permanently in the hearts and minds of the believers. As for those who fail to take the communion regularly due to the prevalent daunting situation, they can virtually receive the Holy Communion.


May peace prevail worldwide, particularly in the Holy land, so that the believers will be able to take the Eucharist all the time and consequently feel the presence of the Lord in their daily lives.

Images, Video or Audio
Munir Bayouk/