Baking the bread for the Mass, the panis angelicus, is a sacred task that is performed prayerfully with a holy consciousness of its place in all the traditions and especially in the story of our salvation. Even in its own organic story, bread is rich in meaning. No better element in creation to be the matter of the Eucharist. Its journey from the field to the table is the journey of life. We go through the mill, the pressure and the fire before we reach perfection.
To know bread is to know land of which our body and brains are made. It is to see the wheat seed when “it falls to the earth and dies,” when the ploughed and harrowed soil receives it, when the rain falls to water it, and the sun shines to warm it. Then it covers the brown earth with its grass-like growth and burst into green seeds which ripen slowly in the sun. The wheat will be cut from the earth, the seeds separated from the straw, and these will literally go through the mill to become the flour for the baking. Ahead, the fire, and out of the oven, the bread is born. A long grueling journey from the plough to the plate. From the fall in the field to the elevation at the altar. It is the journey of human life.
No better element could Christ have chosen to be “this,” in His sacred statement: “This is My Body.”