5

The Douay Rheims bible states this for Matthew 6:11 :

Give us this day our supersubstantial bread.

Why, therefore, do Catholic persons not celebrate the mass every day ?

14
  • 2
    Some of us work for a living! – Ken Graham Aug 24 '20 at 2:45
  • @KenGraham That does not explain the lack of 'this day'. Surely there would be enough time after work ? – Nigel J Aug 24 '20 at 2:47
  • Not so, if the Parish Mass is during work hours! Plus Catholics are not obliged to do so. – Ken Graham Aug 24 '20 at 4:31
  • 2
    All my great aunts and uncles used to go every day at lunch hour to the noontime Mass. – Mike Borden Aug 24 '20 at 10:17
  • 1
    They all lived in Southbridge, Massachusetts. In the late 60's and early 70's when I was a child they attended Mass every noontime at lunch hour. It was an abbreviated service designed to give access to the Eucharist at all three of the Catholic churches in town. – Mike Borden Aug 24 '20 at 22:59
5

If the Douay Rheims bible states this for Matthew 6:11 : “Give us this day our super-substantial bread.” Why is it, therefore, that Catholics not attend Mass every day?

The short answer is that many choose not to or can not do so for a variety of reasons. Daily Mass is attended out of devotion and piety. There is no official obligation on the part of the Church to go to Mass everyday of the week.

For myself, the number one reason, why I can not get to daily Mass is work. But some may ask: Surely there would be enough time after work? Well not true! There are three parishes in my area. Daily Mass is at 8:00 AM at all three and that corresponds with the middle of my shift!

No pope has interpreted this passage as solely meaning the Eucharist, but it may well be applied to the Eucharist. According to Catholicism it can be applied to another interpretation as well: our daily necessities or our daily Eucharist.

Our Supersubstantial Bread

The Lord has left us a mystery to contemplate. It is right there in the middle of the “Our Father” when Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Mt. 6:11) This is generally recognized to mean pray for our basic daily necessities. (CCC 2837) This is true. Yet, hidden in the mundane and seemingly redundant word “daily” is the veiled, mysterious Greek word epiousios (επιούσιος). Epiousios is a unique word, sacramental-like in nature, a visible sign of a hidden reality. Epiousios occurs nowhere else in the Greek Bible except in the same Our Father passage in Luke 11:3 and the Apostle’s Didache. In fact, epiousios is not found anywhere else at all in Greek literature. The only recorded reference to epiousios, ever, is Jesus’ prayer.

As the early Church Father and master of the Greek language Origen (d. 254 AD) concludes, epiousios was “invented by the Evangelists.” The millennia have bore out his assertion that epiousios was a new word, a neologism of uncertain etymology. The usual Greek word for “daily,” hemera, is, after all, used this elsewhere in the New Testament, but not in this instance. Why did St. Matthew and St. Luke feel compelled to create a new Greek word to accurately reflect the words of Jesus? They most likely had to use a new word to faithfully translate a novel idea or a unique Aramaic word that Jesus used in His prayer. What was Jesus’ new idea? Although there are multiple levels of meanings to epiousios, Jesus is making a clear allusion to the Eucharist. “Our daily bread” is one translation of a word that goes far above our basic needs for sustenance, and invokes our supernatural needs.

St. Jerome translated the Bible in the 4th century from the original Latin, Hebrew and Greek texts to form the Latin Vulgate Bible. When it came to the mysterious word epiousios, St. Jerome hedged his bets. In Luke 11:3, St. Jerome translated epiousios as “daily.” Yet, in Matthew 6:11, he translated epiousios as “supersubstantial.” The root words are: epi, meaning “above” or “super;” and ousia, meaning “being,” “essence,” or “substance.” When they are read together, we come to the possible translations of “super-substantial,” “above-essence,” or, in effect, “supernatural” bread. This translation as supersubstantial is still found today in the Douay-Rheims Bible. Taken literally, our supersubstantial bread is the Eucharist. (CCC 2837) In his commentary on St. Matthew’s gospel, St. Jerome states this directly: “We can also understand supersubstantial bread in another sense as bread that is above all substances and surpasses all creatures.”

St. Jerome translated the Bible in the 4th century from the original Latin, Hebrew and Greek texts to form the Latin Vulgate Bible. When it came to the mysterious word epiousios, St. Jerome hedged his bets. In Luke 11:3, St. Jerome translated epiousios as “daily.” Yet, in Matthew 6:11, he translated epiousios as “supersubstantial.” The root words are: epi, meaning “above” or “super;” and ousia, meaning “being,” “essence,” or “substance.” When they are read together, we come to the possible translations of “super-substantial,” “above-essence,” or, in effect, “supernatural” bread. This translation as supersubstantial is still found today in the Douay-Rheims Bible. Taken literally, our supersubstantial bread is the Eucharist. (CCC 2837) In his commentary on St. Matthew’s gospel, St. Jerome states this directly: “We can also understand supersubstantial bread in another sense as bread that is above all substances and surpasses all creatures.”

St. Jerome also suggests that the Hebrew word for epiousios was the word maar meaning “for tomorrow,” invoking an eschatological interpretation of epiousios. In this sense, we are praying “this day” for our bread “for tomorrow,” or our future bread. We are petitioning God for tomorrow’s future bread today. Pope Benedict reflects on this “petition for an anticipation for the world to come, asking the Lord to give already ‘today’ the future bread, the bread of the new world – Himself.” This again has Eucharistic overtones, as the Catechism states, “the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come.” (CCC 2837)

This eschatological interpretation is also borne out in the parable for the “coming day’s bread,” that Jesus teaches immediately following the Our Father. In Luke 11:5-8, Jesus tells the story of a man, who at “midnight” asks a friend to lend him three loaves of bread, as another friend of his has arrived from a journey and he has nothing to give him. As scholars have noted, there is the crucial matter of timing in this parable. In the morning the man can provide an abundance of food and bread for his guest, but at midnight he has nothing. This is an allusion to the fact that in the coming day of the Lord in heaven we will have a superabundance to meet our every need, both material and spiritual. But, as of yet, in this temporal life, a constant need remains. - Our Supersubstantial Bread

The Church has never obliged the faithful to go Mass everyday. This would cause undue hardship on many. Historically, this would have been impossible for those working in agriculture in days prior to modern machines.

Would one travel x miles to Mass and leave the fields or livestock unattended?

In towns and cities, it would be more possible to attend daily Mass. But then, this too is thought as by being out of devotion and not out of obligation.

So, why do Catholic persons not partake of mass every single day?

  • Sometimes the distance to Mass is very great and not all Catholics have vehicles.
  • Some Catholics are in prison or doing military service for their country.
  • Work schedules for many conflict with Mass times, especially the further away from cities one dwells in.
  • Daily Mass has never been an obligation for the faithful. Many do go to daily Mass.
3
  • 3
    Up voted as an intriguing answer! However, when you quote how the Greek word "epiousios was invented by the Evangelists,” they were recording something Jesus said several years before he instituted the Lord's Supper/Eucharist, so his audience would never have taken the meaning that Catholicism much later supposes. The Evangelists would have realised Jesus was indeed "the bread of life" from heaven, but they could not attribute an idea of daily spiritual partaking of this symbolic bread to the lips of Jesus at the time he said that - surely? – Anne Aug 24 '20 at 17:12
  • @Anne Thank you for the words of encouragement. One thing we must constantly remind ourselves is that Christ spoke Aramaic with his Apostles. Thus they were in a place of a unique opportunity to coin Greek expressions to meet the needs of their intended audience. – Ken Graham Aug 25 '20 at 13:44
  • +1 "Daily Mass is at 8:00 AM at all three and that corresponds with the middle of my shift!" This is the thing - daily Masses are only given at certain times. In my small-town area, there's one. Miss it and you're driving a long way. But I do think many Catholics would benefit from going to Mass more often! – One God the Father Jun 28 at 18:00
1

The Douay Rheims bible states ...

I looked up both the Greek original and the Douay Rheims translation.

While the Greek original uses exactly the same word "ἐπιούσιον" in two verses, Douay Rheims uses two different translations for nearly the same sentence:

Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. (Mt 6:11)

Give us this day our daily bread. (Lk 11:3)

This means that exactly the same sentence can be interpreted (and translated) in two completely different ways.

I don't have an Internet link or a similar reference, but I think that the large majority of Catholics does not interpret Mt 6:11 (and Lk 11:3) as a reference to the Eucharist, but as a reference to the goods needed to survive (food, water, clothing ...).

So the answer to your question is simple: Most Catholics do not think that Mt 6:11 refers to the Eucharist.

I looked up multiple German and some modern English translations of Mt 6:11: All of them translate Mt 6:11 using "daily bread" with one exception that even translates to "things we need to live". The fact that I didn't find other translations allows the conclusion that most Christians today understand that verse this way.

We could also look at the context of the verse:

Jesus tells his listeners how to pray. And because all other sentences in his prayer are very easy to understand, it is rather improbable that he would use one sentence that cannot be understood at all. This was long before the Last Supper, so nobody could foresee that there would be the Eucharist in the future and any reference to the Eucharist would not have been understood.


Not related to your question, but to your comment:

I certainly would not trust Wikipedia on the finer points of Hellenistic Greek. My ... Liddell & Scott ...

This is not a question of Hellenistic Greek, but a problem that occurs with any language:

From where does your Greek dictionary have the information that the word "ἐπιούσιον" has a certain meaning?

If it is really true that the word "ἐπιούσιον" is neither used in any other text nor in spoken language, the information in your dictionary must be based (directly or indirectly) on some Bible translation because there is no other source of information.

So if the Bible translation that your Dictionary relies on contains an error, your Dictionary will contain the same error.

3
  • Liddell & Scott is not a dictionary, it is a lexicon. This is a learned work which collates all known references in antiquity and establishes what an ancient word actually means. Comparisons are made to ensure that inflected words are derived from common roots within their conjugation and declension. This is a necessary process to understand the holy writings. – Nigel J Aug 26 '20 at 11:36
  • 1
    @NigelJ Does it make a difference if it is a lexicon or a dictionary? Deriving a word from other existing words may lead to completely wrong conclusions: In German language there are hundreds of words (like "Hühnerauge") having a literal meaning but whose literal meaning is completely different from the actual one. – Martin Rosenau Aug 26 '20 at 13:32
  • That's the beauty of Hellenistic Greek, a language which was influenced by Deity for over a thousand years (Mycenian Greek, Linear A) before it was ready to be used by the Holy Spirit's inspiration. A language which developed to communicate concept and to convey intelligent and expressive thought. There is nothing on earth remotely like the holy writings. And they should be respected for what they are, and should be studied appropriately. I am being discouraged from further comment so I shall bid you adieu. Regards. – Nigel J Aug 26 '20 at 13:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.