There’s something about this article on the process of making communion wafers that makes me take Catholic doctrine even less seriously than before:
The [Cavanagh Altar Bread] company sells its wafers to religious supply retail stores and convents, which are ramping up Christmas orders. Sister Mary Michael of the Corpus Christi Monastery in the Bronx, N.Y., said her monastery, like many, used to bake altar bread for sale to surrounding churches as a source of income.
But demand outstripped what their antiquated equipment could produce, and for decades the nuns have bought wafers wholesale from Cavanagh, to sell at a markup. “It’s one of our means of support – it helps,” she said.
Sister Mary Veronica of the Franciscan Monastery of St. Clare in Jamaica Plain said the monastery has sold Cavanagh bread since well before she joined her order 18 years ago.
“It’s a good product,” she said. “Better than a number of places that make hosts.”
The current generation of Cavanagh family members have an awesome sense of humor about what they do — it’s almost as if they know they’re making crackers that others take waaaay too seriously:
The company employs 36 full-time people making altar bread. The family is Roman Catholic, “but you certainly don’t have to be Catholic to work here,” said Brian. “It’s a manufacturing company. There’s no fake reverence for the product.” Until the wafers are used by a priest in the celebration of the Eucharist, “it’s just bread,” he said.
My favorite part has to be what happens to the discarded Jesus wafers:
Next comes the die cutter. Sheets of bread automatically drop between two rollers, which cut 112 standard Communion wafers from each sheet in about one second, while simultaneously indenting a cross or a lamb shape into each wafer.
The wafers and the chaff left over from the cut are spun are in perforated tubes, which shake the chaff into waste barrels. A local pig farmer feeds the waste to his hogs.
“Holy pigs, we call them,” said Luke.
The same family makes separate wafers for other faiths:
The Cavanagh Co. also provides wafers for other denominations, such as Lutheran and Episcopal churches, the family said. They bake an entirely different style of altar bread for Southern Baptist churches. Those breads are small white squares. “They probably would double as a great soup cracker,” said Andy.
So if you don’t buy the whole Jesus thing, just use the crackers in your soup. No difference.
Just a reminder: Catholics make up one-sixth of the world’s population. You figure most of them actually believe they are eating Jesus…