Q — I recently attended Sunday Mass at a Byzantine parish and they served Holy Communion in croutons. Is that something new? It was a First Communion Sunday; perhaps it was an exception. They were small square pieces of bread. I know they were not hosts.

A —
It would be improper for me to comment on the bread used in a particular parish for the celebration of the Eucharist, simply because I am not in receipt of all the pertinent details. Let me quote from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, paragraphs 319-322. That is where we find the rules governing the use of bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. “The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat, must be recently made, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened” (par. 320). “The wine for the celebration of the Eucharist must be from the fruit of the vine (cf. Luke 22:18). Natural, and unadulterated, that is, without admixture of extraneous substances” (par. 322). It may well be that a legitimate but different form of bread, different from what you are accustomed to, is what you noticed.  

Q — What is a priest? What is Teresa of Avila’s role in the priesthood?

A —
What is a priest? Vatican II summarizes the sacrament of holy orders in these words: “Thus the divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry is exercised in different degrees by those who even from ancient times have been called bishops, priests, and deacons” (Constitution on the Church, 28). The fullness of office belongs to the bishops, who “have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the church” (Constitution on the Church, 20). Priests share in their office (Constitution on the Church, 28), in proclamation, in administering the sacraments especially the Eucharist, and in pastoral ministry (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 4-6). Deacons exercise their office in ministry to the Word, to the liturgy/Eucharist, and in charity/administration (Constitution on the Church, 29).

In the strict sense of the word, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) does not have a specific role in the priesthood. However, as she was one of the premier instruments of God in the renewal of the church of her time, her combination of mystical experience with ceaseless activity as a reformer and organizer makes her life the classic instance for those who contend that the highest contemplation is not incompatible with great practical achievements.