ASK FATHER: Gluten-free madness the work of the Father of Lies?


From a reader…


Might the gluten-free madness that grips Western society be the work of the Father of Lies? Most people who believe themselves to be gluten-intolerant are just engaging in speculation and it might be a case of mind over matter, or wishful thinking, sometimes for secondary gain or control. They think they will become ill from wheat, and might be willing themselves to do so. What do you think? I have acquaintances who demand gluten free choices when dining out or being a guest in my home. They say they are gluten free but craftily cheat when given a choice between a dessert made with gluten and one made with rice flour or chickpea flour. Its a matter of control, I believe.

Wow.  Even now I can hear the howls of indignation at the suggestion that the gluten thing isn’t real.

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.  However, I do think that the incidence of sensitivity to gluten is on the rise.  I suspect that there is a combination of factors, including years of eating artificial crap and various other less than healthy factors.

At the same time, there have been a few instances when I have suspected that a person here or there wanted some special attention.  But that’s not worth pursuing.

The Church has made it clear that a certain type of approved low-gluten Host may be validly and licitly consecrated. (Cf. Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, July 24, 2003, Prot. 89/78-174 98.)


Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread” (A. 1-2).   HERE

I’ll leave this open for comments from those who truly know something about it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. KateriK says:

    Wow! Where do I begin to explain having celiac disease which is a total wheat allergy/intolerance? I believe there are people on Planet Earth who have a real allergy to wheat which shows up as terrible gastric disturbances, diarrehea, excema, rhinitis, asthma etc. Having had these reactions to wheat, I decided to get tested for celiac. Lo, and behold, my tests showed that I am allergic to gluten in several different foods, not just wheat. These foods include coffee, soy, teff, rye, bzrley, sesame, etc. I’ve lived with this since 1998. I have attempted multiple times to ingest these foods to no avail. This is not an attempt to get attention – this is a bona fide allergy.
    I also believe there are individuals who are sensitive to not just the wheat, but to the glyphosate (Roundup) that is so generously sprayed on our crops, included grapes used for wine production, etc.
    As Fr. Z pointed out, I believe that we ingest far too many strange chemicals in our food, weird additives, colorings, preservatives, the list goes on and on that have contributed to food sensitivites.
    Having stated all this, I will also point out, that because of the kindness of our local pastor, I have the option to receive low-gluten Hosts. Rather than stand out, I simply receive the regular wheaten Host for Holy Communion. Generally speaking, I rarely have a reaction to Jesus! speaking
    This is a cross for those of us with a bona fide allergy. For some of us it can be life-threatening. But as with many things nowadays, details can be blown out of proporti on. Please don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bath-water.

  2. Amerikaner says:

    From the Father of Lies? Wow!… that hurts. As someone who actually has a serious problem with gluten, I face this kind of attitude all the time. Might there be people who don’t have an issue? Sure. But THERE ARE people who have an issue. I thank the good Lord every time I can go to Holy Communion with a consecrated proper low gluten host! When I am not at my parish I have to abstain from Holy Communion. I’ve had a priest tell me to my face that gluten intolerance isn’t real. Um, sorry… you are not a doctor and have overstepped your knowledge! Charitable understanding is needed in this issue. Not just from priests but from lay people as well.

  3. APX says:

    I had a roommate with celiac disease. I assure you it was no mind over matter. Even a crumb would make her terribly sick and in the bathroom for hours.

  4. Amerikaner says:

    Btw- I wouldn’t wish this condition on my worst enemy!

  5. JustaSinner says:

    Don’t know about gluten, but killed carbs from my diet and lost 110 pounds since May. Father of Lies, I was more like the Father of Fats…

  6. Akita says:

    One percent of the population has celiac disease. This results, from an early age, in abdominal bloating and pain, pale and foul smelling stool, diarrhea alternating with constipation, failure to thrive, and poor growth and development and is entirely valid. Those who develop it in adulthood have vaguer symptoms like joint pain, fatigue. However, I’d guess upwards of 5-10% of people in today’s western societies claim to be gluten intolerant. Many never get tested but get on the bandwagon. It’s a ruse and corporate America is happy to get on board pushing products as “gluten-free”. Haha, vodka made of potatoes, gluten-free from time immemorial is now touted as “gluten-free”. Do I really need to have plastered on my mustard and olive jar “gluten-free”? It’s insane.

  7. Akita says:

    Was in Walmart a few days ago. Big display of Franz brand gluten free bread was on display. It cost nearly $7.00 a loaf. Who is buying this?! A lot will go in the land-fill I guarantee it. Such a waste catering to Western madness.

  8. will99lang says:

    You are partly correct and partly wrong. There are many who are intolerant or even allergic to gluten, but there are many who fake it. My grandmother is intolerant enough to have to slow down eating gluten, but she does eat her homemade bread. My aunt is allergic to gluten, and it is evident she is not faking it. She will not do a scene if she eat gluten by mistake, but she will get sick. Then I have a friend who says that they are allergic… but who are evidently lying and are doing it to get thinner. There are many who are allergic to gluten, but there are also many who are doing a diet. Funny how when the Church’s days of fasting are not enforced, people start diets…

    Father, you are completely right about artificial food. Was it not the USA’s food and drug administration that declared that some cake (or donuts) ornaments (sprinkles?) are not edible?

  9. Therese says:

    A dear friend suffering from auto immune disorders discovered recently there is a demonic component to her health woes.

    No, I’m not kidding. Chew on that for a moment. (Sorry about the pun!)

  10. jltuttle says:

    I feel bloated when eating most store-bought bread and especially bread at fast food restaurants. I don’t think it’s the gluten but all the other stuff, the extra yeast used to make the bread rise fast enough for mass production, the enzymes used to control the yeast, and all the other chemicals used to give the bread the right texture. Ever look up what’s in “dough conditioner?” I have no problems eating the bread my wife makes at home and especially the bread she make from a sour dough starter. I think many people in western society feel terrible from all the manufactured food out there and try going gluten-free in the hopes that it will help. I suppose it helps at first because they eat less of the bad food, but as companies use more chemicals to manufacture gluten-free varieties that mimick natural food, their problems will return.

  11. NBW says:

    KateriK: I agree, it is a cross. I think many are allergic to the type of modern day wheat that has been genetically modified and probably full of Round up and who knows what else. This is a demonic problem in the sense that companies are out to make as much money as they can and don’t care about the millions of people they harm in the process of making a profit.

  12. Amerikaner says:

    @will99lang – look at Breyers ice cream and you’ll see tara gum as an ingredient. It’s an inedible, ornamental plant where the beans are ground up and the powder used to help with re-freezing. Think about that for a minute… while the dairy industry claims it’s a safe ingredient, do you really want to be eating something from an ornamental plant just because? And people wonder about the rise of auto-immune diseases nowadays. Wood rosin is another good example. It’s in some soft-drinks. The West monkeys around with food, we eat it and have no idea, and then 30 yrs down the road people wonder why everyone’s dying of cancer or something.

  13. Lusp says:

    Just wait a few years and eating more gluten will be all the rage. In fairness though, I work with Doctors at my job and they tell me rates of all allergies are skyrocketing. I can think of going to grade school 35 years ago and there only being a few classmates with allergies. Nowadays it seems like every other kid. One discovery recently is that it’s beneficial to expose babies to a wider variety of foods as early as possible. This is new because over the last several decades doctors used to advise parents to avoid several foods so babies didn’t develop allergies. Recent studies have shown that early exposure can actually prevent allergies. Let’s hope that this change in direction can reverse the trend.

  14. Urget_nos says:

    My wife has a severe case of celiac disease. We see many people claiming ‘gluten free’ and eating donuts and batter dipped fried chicken in the parish hall. My wife takes Holy Communion from the chalice, as the first person in the first pew, whenever possible to avoid to avoid cross contamination. To get a sense of what the disease is like: a couple of years ago we were at a wedding Mass, she was about the 10th person to receive (after the wedding party), there was no perceptible back-wash (please excuse the expression). She was gluten poisoned from receiving from that chalice. That evening the severe stomach pain began which lasted a couple of days, then came the days of liquid bowel movements, capped off by the week of cognition deficit. You see, when a person with actual celiac disease(autoimmune disease) is exposed to guten, the body attacks the villi in the intestines and causes them to die. Nutrition is substantially uptaken in the intestines via these villi. Dead villi sends the body into an emergency mode until it can heal and grow new villi. It is a cascade effect on the body and it is agonizing just for a husband to watch let alone for the sufferer. And the judgment, actions, and statements of some lay folk and some clergy make the poor celiac disease sufferer feel very much like a leper who has to carry around a sign reading ‘Unclean – please judge me because I have to make a spectacle JUST TO RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION’. So lets love the ‘gluten free’ people eating donuts in the parish hall because they HAVE some sort of emotional brokeness, but please don’t look down your nose at those who have legitimate gluten issues if you want them to still remain Catholic, rather please give them your support. And ponder how you are supposed to know the difference between the two? Lead with love. Caritas Christi urget nos!!!

  15. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Celiac disease and other sever allergies rehearsal thing. Period.

    That said, there are mentally ill people who envy or sexually fetishize amputees, and seriously seek to get their healthy limbs amputated.

    So yes, there are people who sincerely misdiagnose themselves; or who seek attention and sympathy through hypochondria (unconsciously) or through lying (consciously). Also, some people just prefer specialty foods or are being cautious, and will tell you so.

    In general, the reality of someone else’s reported medical condition is not our business. One should treat it as real, giving people the benefit of the doubt — unless one is a doctor treating the person, or a close relative with responsibilities for the person.

  16. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Are a real thing,” not rehearsal. Argh, I hate predictive spell changers.

  17. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    Serious question here (and forgive me if this offends anyone, but I am really looking for an actual answer on this): Has a Catholic who is allergic to gluten ever had a negative reaction to a special low-gluten Host?

  18. Akita says:

    Everyone’s not dying of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (2018) death rates from cancer have fallen 26% since 1991.

    Engaging in hysteria like this is evidence that Western society is teetering.

  19. dahveed says:

    Hi Father,
    I’m a married father of five. My wife and I are celiacs. Three of my kids are. Two of my brothers are celiacs, and the other has, I believe, a far worse autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis. I understand that some jump on perceived bandwagons, for what they feel are healthy reasons. Personally, I’d love not to pay five bucks for a loaf of GF bread, but have long felt that there are those with much more pressing health issues, and none of us have to take a medication for it. And aside from my oldest, all have been tested, both the standard means, the blood test, followed by endoscopy. Regarding my oldest, he’d been experiencing the standard symptoms, but lacked insurance coverage. He changed his diet, and the symptoms disappeared. As we were told when I was diagnosed a decade ago, the average Joe walking the streets has a 1 in 122 chance of having it, while those with a first degree relative have a 1 in 22 chance. Just food, as it were, for thought.

  20. luciavento says:

    I have gluten allergy, however, I have never reacted to the Host at Mass. I believe that the gluten troubles can serve to discourage people from receiving Holy Communion. It can make people worry, and I am convinced that the devil counts every missed worthy reception of Holy Communion as a victory. I have thought this for some time. Not to open up another couple cans of worms, but I also believe that knee conditions treated with cheap knee replacements discourage people from kneeling before Our Lord in church, and uncontrolled diabetes type 2 discourages people from fasting. Satan counts it all as a victory. I understand that some people suffer extraordinary circumstances, but there is a great increase of knee problems and diabetes in these times. Lots of things cause these conditions, and the devil is quick to take advantage of it.

  21. Akita says:

    See my comments above about celiac disease and true gluten intolerance. God bless your wife for soldiering on. But the question remains, is the gluten-free craze, hysteria even, with all its duplicity, corporate greed, waste of millions of pounds of uneaten products because they are so expensive and taste so wretched, of the devil?

  22. cantus says:

    There are those that are REALLY GI, and there’s the masses that aren’t. This vid is for the latter.

  23. DavidJ says:

    There is a world of difference between saying one is gluten free and one having a problem with gluten and having to avoid it. My oldest daughter has Celiac. This is a medical fact. It is not what you would classically call an allergy, but is actually an auto-immune disorder. Gluten will literally cause damage to her intestines; enough damage could cause her to no longer properly digest food and she could literally starve to death. I’m not going to say anything about people who say that they are gluten sensitive, but for my daughter, it is indisputable, confirmed by a biopsy. For someone with Celiac, there is legitimate physical harm and discomfort. She is _very_ susceptible to even minute quantities of gluten. It will literally cause her pain and suffering for a good two days for even a minor exposure as well as other unpleasantness.

    At Mass, she receives from the chalice, and the particle of the Host that is in there, which she does not drink, generally will not cause a reaction. Several people at our parish will do this. We have not approached our priest about a low-gluten host, and honestly, unless we were sure that the wafer was preserved from cross-contamination, I would encourage her to stay away.

    Some people with Celiac _can_ tolerate a minor amount. Some can’t tolerate any. There’s also evidence that there are other sensitivities that might be in play for people who claim to be gluten-sensitive but do not actually have Celiac. Science finds cool new things all the time.

    We’ve had to change a lot of things in order to make our house and kitchen a safe place for her to be. I’m not going to comment on anyone else, but this is a very legitimate and serious thing for us.

  24. Fr_Andrew says:

    A priest friend of mine told a story of a lady he knew to whom he used to give a tiny sliver of the host for Communion before the Low Gluten hosts were available, and she would still have a pretty severe reaction, but wanted to receive and the effects lasted for her most of the day, but she wanted to offer it up for Our Lord. A full host she claimed would make her vomit and have severe pain for days. This was before the advent of Low Gluten hosts which were approved for use.

    Initially he thought this silly, but indulged her. Finally when Low gluten hosts were approved, he obtained some. She was fine with half a host and seemed to have no real reaction. This continued for a few years.

    One day he gave her Communion as usual from a special pyx he kept separate with the Low Gluten hosts and by the end of Mass she had a severe reaction, vomiting, etc. Later, she approached him and said he must have mixed up the hosts. He said he didn’t, as he had grabbed it from the special container of hosts he’d ordered and not the bag of hosts he gets the hosts of the faithful from. He thought this was the confirmation for him that the whole gluten bit was a charade, but said nothing then to her. He went back in to check the package from which the special hosts came, and low and behold where he normally found the usual “Low Gluten” label the label said “white wheat host”. They had sent the wrong hosts. He had indeed given her half a regular host, and she had a reaction. The hosts used were so similar in texture and quality she couldn’t have known except by the reaction.

    I am sure sometimes this is a way of getting attention, but this whole incident proved to him, and me (since I trust him) that some people are truly sensitive to such things. I have never since questioned new people who request a Low Gluten host. For long time parishioners I do ask that they discuss with me how they know they need it, since it is a very small amount of gluten in a typical host, and not likely to affect anyone with a slight intolerance they’ve only recently discovered.

    Full-blown celiac disease, however, is real.

    The Low Gluten hosts should be for the severe cases, I prefer to give part of a regular host for the mild cases, but there are such cases where even a sliver of a regular host will cause a reaction and for them, the Low Gluten hosts or communion under the species of the Precious Blood is the only option.

  25. RichR says:

    Our oldest boy had life-threatening food allergies for the first 13 years of his life. Back then, the response to food allergies was very similar to the OP’s response: doubt and misunderstanding. Thankfully, over time, people were educated more about food allergies and schools, restaurants, and supermarkets started labeling things in a more helpful way. Modern immuno-therapy has cured our eldest of dairy-, peanut- and egg-induced anaphylaxis. Hopefully, in another decade, gluten sensitivities will benefit from the same cycle of awareness, research, and medical development.

  26. Cranky Old Man says:

    There are a few suppliers approved by the USCCB for low-gluten hosts. Our EF Mass has received a supply regularly from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Missouri:
    Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
    Altar Breads Department
    31970 State Highway P
    Clyde, MO 64432-8100
    Phone: (800) 223-2772

  27. Johanna says:

    I have two children who break out in horrifying hives when they eat more than a small amount of gluten. My sister in law also has doctor diagnosed thyroid issues that are aggravated by gluten dairy and soy. None of them have celiac disease, but they all have very good reason to avoid gluten. As others have said, modern processing of food leads to people eating many things that their bodies don’t recognize as food. I believe this is a big part of the rise in allergies.

    There are lots of health problems that can be improved with various dietary changes, even emotional problems. One friend of mine, also not celiac, struggled with clinical depression until she was diagnosed (by a doctor) with gluten intolerance. Another friend, after years of bad health, finally got her Hashimoto’s thyroid disease under control after giving up gluten. I am glad that the OP has never had trouble with food allergies/sensitivities, but I think he looking for demonic activity in the wrong place.

  28. JabbaPapa says:

    There’s no one-size-fits-all “right answer” to these things — with the exception that “gluten-free Hosts” are invalid matter as Father Z pointed out from the CDF ruling.

    I don’t personally need to go 100% gluten-free, and I certainly have no need for low-gluten Hosts, but nevertheless about 97% of foods containing gluten are (mostly) forbidden to me for other reasons (I can eat some small amounts of gluten by exception from time to time ; my condition is not an allergy nor celiac disease, and it’s lectins in general that I have to be careful with, not gluten alone) — I need to follow about a 95% carnivore diet, with most of the 5% non-carnivore in the form of potatoes (though weirdly, beer is NOT on the list of stuff I can’t take).

    There are many people who have taken up gluten-free purely as a dietary fad, but really they’d do better to ditch all vegetable oils except olive or avocado, shun all soy, and cut their intake of factory refined sugar down to a minimum. The carnivore / ketogenic diets are NOT for everyone (the only general diet good for most people is any simple Mediterranean one), but these particular basics will do nobody any harm.

  29. sibnao says:

    I used to scoff at the whole GF thing while at the same time having lived my whole life with lower intestinal issues — severe cramping, diarrhea and constipation in the same day, and finally soreness and bloating (by my early forties I looked about five months pregnant although not, alas). I got a rash on my face and couldn’t seem to get rid of it no matter what I used topically.
    The doctor took one look, heard the symptoms, and said it looked like a classic case of gluten sensitivity, which often gets worse in middle age. Believe me, I really argued — I love bread and pasta, love to bake, and hate fussy eaters and people who try to “control” things by their food restrictions. She convinced me to try it for two months. Within three weeks all the symptoms — including ones I had had since childhood — disappeared, I lost the bloating around my middle, and my gut stopped hurting anytime I sat down.
    I can eat small amounts of things with wheat, but I feel so much better that I am pretty careful. I don’t even care if people think it’s a fad. And I don’t care if we don’t know exactly why it’s happening so much — the diet fixed this issue completely and even if it’s a placebo, I’m glad it worked!

  30. bibi1003 says:

    Therese, that certainly got my attention. Would you explain what’s going on with your friend and who it was that told her that her illness was related to the demonic?

  31. liebemama says:

    We have 3 daughters with celiac disease. They were 7,9 and 11 at the diagnosis. They have had to learn to communicate to others about their condition from the start. They never expect or demand special attention and are always ready and thankful to eat a quick scrambled egg and tomato if the guest family can only offer glutenized food otherwise. They bring their own cake to birthday parties, although as they grow older their friends want to bake gf cake for them. Even in scout camp their whole “Gilde” cooked and ate gluten-free meals (except for bread) the entire 2 weeks – it isn’t difficult. And our girls have been in many sacristies in Germany. They approach the Priest and request the special hosts. Almost every church here has them. We have our own which we take with us just in case. At a TLM the Priest requests that the girls receive first. I know that we are fortunate that our girls don’t react negatively to occasional traces of gluten, that requires a much higher standard of vigilance.

  32. KnightOfTruth says:

    I spent the last year getting tested. I am not celiac, but I do have a sensitivity to wheat and a lot of other grains. If I eat more than about a hamburger bun worth of wheat in a day my stomach hurts and makes a lot of noise (bubbling, gurgling, growling) – enough to get the attention of others a table away. I suspect that this is all related to the Roundup being used to harvest many crops. All I know is that I discovered the pleasure of a pain free quiet stomach when I learned to regulate my food choices. Demonic? I agree with a comment above… the Demonic may be tied to those spraying crops with roundup in order to make bigger profits.

  33. Mightnotbeachristiantou says:

    Gluten is a combination of things. Like lactose intolerance. I know of Americans that while living in Europe can eat cheese and some dairy items. In America, food is processed differently than even 20 years ago. One idea is that the wheat is different. I, personally, cut out carbs for a year. I could feel the difference once I started back up. But one thing I could no longer eat was rice. Just a couple of kernels would have me in the bed with shrp pain in my stomach. Food is not the same as it was 50, 30, 20 years ago.

  34. Amerikaner says:

    @KennethWolfe – while low gluten hosts, from the Benedictine sisters, are not gluten free otherwise it would be invalid matter, the ppm (parts per million) is very low. So low that many with celiacs can take them without issue. I believe the sisters accidentally stumbled across the formula in their experimentation. The bishops conference has recognized that while the gluten content is extremely minimal, there is just enough present to make it valid for use at Mass. The US government a few years ago also started using a parts per million rating to determine what is allowed to be called gluten free. I forget how many parts per millions it is but it is so tiny to be insignificant.

  35. Amerikaner says:

    @Akita – Part of your comment indicates a disconnect and where you don’t relate to those with celiacs. You mention that GF tastes disgusting. First, years ago things did taste really bad but anyone with Celiacs was GRATEFUL to have a GF product no matter how it tasted. You don’t understand how happy it made folks who couldn’t eat bread, for example, to have something to approximate real bread that you could toast or make sandwiches from. For people with true gluten problems we will gladly take crap tasting stuff over no stuff. But nowadays the products taste far, far better.

    I find it interesting how often people who have no real clue about gluten pain and celiacs believe it isn’t real or somehow from the devil or a conspiracy or that the people are fakers. Absolute utter cluelessness. But the Mayo Clinic has studies that has shown that there are triggers that can cause the allergy to activate such as severe colds, trauma such as car accidents, etc. So those that belittle he issue may find themselves on the other side one day and wonder why they are in severe pain at times and it might take them years of suffering before they realize the cause. So folks, be charitable and don’t assume this isn’t real. Take some time and educate yourselves. And even if the percentage is small for those who suffer, don’t discount that population because the suffering is real and negative comments just hurt those with celiacs or gluten issues.

  36. Kerry says:

    Wandering far afield here, but, in my reading, there is no approved GMO wheat. (NBW, you are correct about Roundup being sprayed onto wheat. It is used as a dessicant to speed up and even out the drying before combining.)

    “The Rht genes,(reduced height gene), which reside in many U.S. varieties today come with a lifesaving story, courtesy of the old 19th-century Japanese wheat variety, daruma, from which height reduction was transferred by conventional breeding in the 1950s by wheat breeders Orville Vogel and Norman Borlaug. Their research spawned a new era of wheat varieties that would eventually ignite the Green Revolution and save this planet from malnutrition, or worse yet, starvation (for more, see The Viking in the Wheat Field, by Susan Dworkin”.

    (Short stem wheats are less prone to lodging, being blown over by rain and wind and, hence difficult to combine. Another citation, including a definition of genetic modification, follows. Note that genetic modification is not the same as traditional plant breeding.)

    “During the so-called “Green Revolution” of the 20th century, science and technology were unleashed to “improve” wheat with the grandiose vision of feeding the world. That basically meant one thing: yield. Scientifically managed hybridization, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and industrial scale irrigation—these were the tools of modernity that made it all possible.

    Fertilizers removed the natural limitations the land placed on crops. The soil could be changed chemically to meet the demands of the plant. But this also resulted in a boom of weeds and pests requiring the application of newly invented pesticides and herbicides.
    In addition to changing the soil, wheat itself could be modified quickly to meet the demands of industrial farming equipment and protein quotas. This included techniques like repetitive cross-back breeding, chemical sterilization, and gamma/x-ray seed mutation. Its not “genetic modification” by definition: There’s no fish or algae spliced into wheat’s DNA– but it was radical modification.”
    This writer lives in South Dakota, where the crops are mostly corn and soybeans. The latter, as I understand, mostly goes towards various animal feeds as soybean meal. The corn into high fructose corn syrup, ethanol and I don’t know what else. The byproduct of ethanol distillation is called distillers grains, and is fed to cattle. There are, I think, pernicious secondary and tertiary effects of chemical farming, high yield crops, and the large and high expense machinery necessary for efficiency. (When, for instance, did the language change, and agriculture become agri-business? I have friends who, if I recall, see a change in farming with the coming of crop insurance.) A farmer I know, pointing south said to me once, “There are entire sections of land out there where no one lives”. He is unmarried and, I believe, farms some three quarters almost entirely without help, except for his John Deeres. Another corn and bean farmer I know, also unmarried, does not have a home garden, as he doesn’t have time for it.

    Yes, I’ve wandered far afield here, (celiac disease sounds dreadful), but I could not but correct the error about GMO wheats. I am interested in grains, which I hope to grow for the first time this year on small plots. Maybe the ‘heritage’ wheat Turkey Red, brought to Kansas in the 1880’s by Mennonites from Ukraine. Citation:
    Also einkorn and spelt. Growing for taste and to improve the soil, not yield and speed. It seems to me that in the same way as traditional religious orders are booming, and the traditional Mass and Catholic families with many children is returning, there is a small return to traditional practices with respect to the care of the soil.

  37. Pius Admirabilis says:

    Okay, may I submit as a quaeritur why Conservatives/Traditionalists are so caught up with the question of whether gluten is evil or not? [I REJECT your premise from the beginning: Your sweeping generalization about “Conservatives/Traditionalists” is ridiculous.] I’ve experienced that many times now how crazy and irrational some people react to that. Why would someone submit this to Father? If he was a nutrition expert or medical doctor, then please. But why is this raised to a question of spiritual significance?

    To explain my point: Celiac disease is real. Gluten free food being healthier is not real. It’s made up by virtue signalling people trying to showcase their “better” and hip lifestyle. Just like vegans and the low-carb crowd. Just to be special, just to stand out. It’s like a joke I read somewhere: “How do you know if someone does crossfit? – They’ll tell you… oh, they’ll tell you!”
    It’s the same madness that makes people reject vaccines as causing autism, and as using essential oils as cancer therapy. Basically, it’s a symptom of a society that becomes increasingly antiscientific, and rather relies on urban legends, folklore, and superstition (other symptoms are the boom of reiki, yoga, etc.).

    I don’t deny that we put too many chemicals in our body, through our food, for example. Today, it is quite difficult to find something that has no preservatives, artificial colors and flavor enhancers, or has been grown in some laboratory. I am absolutely for going back to a more natural lifestyle, where not everything is mass produced by machines in some factory. Bread made with flour, salt, water, and sourdough – by hand in an artisan bakery. As an example.

    BUT: People going crazy over this and claiming that either gluten, or celiac disease do not exist, or that this is the work of the Devil? It baffles me. Especially when crazy heresies spring up from that, for example when someone claims that the consecrated host does not contain any gluten anymore, as if Jesus changed the chemical structure of the bread. And that low-gluten hosts were sacrilege, and so on. Why are people so passionate about that? There are real problems out there.

  38. Man-o-words says:

    Ah, this would have been my position a couple years ago, so I understand your point of view. However, I would like you to to do some research on this. Like you, I believed this was a healthfood fad as well . . . until we finally traced my son’s strange medical conditions to gluten (constant terrible headaches, strong reactions to common bug bites, etc.) Neuro tests came back clean, allergy tests came back clean, we could find no cause for years. Finally, a doc who we have come to trust (and avoids pharmacutecles like the plague) suggested we try pulling him off gluten and see what happened. It was unreal. Headaches went away, reactions to bug bites stopped, and he lost the strange belly fat that no active, healthy eating 12 year old boy should have.

    So, I gave up Gluten for lent, mostly because I LOVE food, and HATED the idea that there was something to this glute-free thing. I was shocked a week later when I looked in the mirror. I didnt do it for that reason, but it was a nice benefit!

    Since then, I have discovered that they dont grow Wheat the way God intended. first, it is genetically modified to tolerate massive amounts of herbicides (round up), and it is harvested differently. Do a little research on Monsanto, Con-agra, etc. These are not your local farmers trying to scratch out a living. These are really bad international companies involved in very anti-catholic ideologies.

    So yes, I believe that the Gluten free thing is associated with the father of lies, but maybe in a different way than you may think.

  39. MB says:

    Really??? People, come on!! If you don’t have the condition be grateful, but to actually accuse people of faking it for attention?? Honestly, I expect more charity from fellow Catholics. I’ve have struggled with horrible food-poisoning-like symptoms from the time I was 3 or 4, only to discover at 33 that it was a gluten sensitivity. Not only that, but it can cause disturbances in my vision, and other neurological symptoms even in very small doses. And yes, @Kenneth Wolfe, I also have problems even with the low-gluten host – and yes, I know we’re talking ppm – but symptoms don’t lie. On top of that, because the TLM people don’t believe that lay people should ever touch a chalice, this means that I can’t receive communion AT ALL, MOST of the time. If you think you’re spiritual life is challenging, try being ALLERGIC to the sacrament of God’s love. It is possible that the devil is in it somewhere also, but good luck getting any sympathy there either. Even the FSSP’s roll their eyes when you mention something you learned from Fr. Ripperger.

  40. APX says:

    On top of that, because the TLM people don’t believe that lay people should ever touch a chalice, this means that I can’t receive communion AT ALL, MOST of the time.
    NO! Not true! I asked our previous FSSP priest about this and he said what they do is they have a smaller communion cup that they consecrated a small amount of wine into the Precious Blood for those who cannot even handle the low gluten hosts. It is also possible to receive from the chalice without touching it. They do it at our Anglican Use Ordinariate all the time because in Canada intinction “isn’t allowed”.

    FWIW: I asked the same priest about touching the chalice by lay people, and he said that it’s not a problem if you have a legitimate reason for needing to touch it (ie: sacristan polishing and washing it). Same with women entering the sanctuary (ie: to clean or do flowers).

  41. APX says:

    Btw: I feel your sentiments. Our priest and parishioners think people with mental illness are all oppressed by the devil and if we’d just pray more and sin less we wouldn’t have mental illness.

  42. bonhomme says:

    There was recent research published here in the UK that said only ca. 10% of people who claimed they had a food allergy really did have one.

    To be clear there are people who do have coeliac disease. My cousin who was born in the early 1960s has it. As an infant he was extremely poorly until it was diagnosed. Then special gluten-free products had to be ordered through a pharmacist and it was hard to get hold of. So the condition does exist but not as many people have it as claim to have it.

    There are a number of factors which contribute to this. One is the pharmaceutical industry are attempting to create new diseases so that they can find new ways of selling their medicines. Then there are so-called health gurus who try to sell is what is no better than modern day snake oil. Nearly everyday it feels like someone is promoting a new fad or diet or health cure. So people are more conscious of their health and they are fooled into buying what they do not need. The number of gluten-free products I see in the supermarket seems to be growing exponentially.

    Very little of all this is based on real, genuine science. If someone claims they have coeliac disease then they must have been diagnosed by a medical practitioner if they genuinely have it. If they claim they have it, ask them for a letter from their doctor to confirm it.

  43. Amerikaner says:

    @Bonhomme – actually I have to disagree with you on something. Celiacs is confirmed by an intestinal biopsy of the vilii. However not all areas of the intestinal tract may be damaged. A biopsy can come back negative for damage because it wasn’t hitting a damaged section. Remember the tens of tens of feet of intestines. So even “genuine science” can fail.

  44. Pingback: FOLLOW UP on Gluten and Celiac post | Fr. Z's Blog

  45. Akita says:

    Interesting thoughts. Thank you.

    I think your last paragraph says it all, that the seeming burden of disease on so much of the population from eating wheat which ultimately makes up the consecrated host, must be the work of the father of lies. Whether the devil is in the Monsanto corporate board room or tempting the conscience of attention seekers or hypochondriacs, the gluten free phenomenon is a scourage on humanity.

  46. My approach is to take people at their word. I have one parishioner who asked to receive low-gluten hosts, and so I have a pyx in the tabernacle, and in it are low-gluten hosts, which are further broken into fourths. What I cannot do is avoid some cross-contamination, as my fingers have already touched regular hosts. Thankfully this has not been an issue.

    Another individual, who isn’t actually a parishioner but who comes regularly with family, likewise requested to receive a low-gluten host. But she later reported still having difficulties; so she receives the Precious Blood when it is distributed; we don’t have it at all Masses. She can’t always receive Holy Communion if the Precious Blood is all consumed by the time she gets her turn.

    She also comes to the Traditional Latin Mass, and the only solution I could see was to consecrate a small amount of the Precious Blood in a second chalice, and bring it to her. It is extremely awkward for her to receive if I hold onto the chalice; I really can’t tell how far to tip it, and of course, I don’t want to spill the Precious Blood; so she takes it in her hand. Once, I forgot to consecrate this second chalice; I realized it before I made my own communion, so I kept a little of the Precious Blood in my chalice, and offered that to her. She did not report back to me that this caused a problem.

    I don’t know if these measures are entirely according to Hoyle, but I have a hard time justifying denying someone Holy Communion in this circumstance. So that means, to me, trying to find the most reverent and sensible way to do it.

  47. Akita says:

    I should say “the gluten adverse” phenomenon.

  48. Blas says:

    I do not understand why be worry if alergy to the gluten is real or not. If we have the Body, Blood. Soul and Divinity of Christ in the form of bread and wine just give the communion with the wine for who feel ill.
    Doing this things of low gluten bread is at least confusing.

  49. Father G says:

    “Even the FSSP’s roll their eyes when you mention something you learned from Fr. Ripperger.”

    I’m curious. Could you provide more information about this statement?
    I know that Fr. Ripperger was previously with the FSSP.

    [Nope. Rabbit hole. Rabbit hole closed.]

  50. MB says:

    Hello Father G. Thank you so much for your priesthood.

    There was some earlier discussion about wheat gluten intolerance and demonic influence, and I know Fr. Ripperger has said that demons can mimic most physical illnesses. Following from that I would postulate then, that it is not out of the question that a demon could be involved in some cases. Although, I would tend to believe that it is just a physical illness most of the time.

    The possibility of demonic influence is what brought Fr. Ripperger to my mind in this discussion. I started listening to his talks online because he really spoke to some specific difficulties that I was having in my own spiritual life. However, when I mentioned them to my FSSP pastor, he was less than complimentary of Fr. R. Fr. R’s name came up at a social gathering in our parish, and I understand that our new associate pastor (also FSSP) is not a fan of Fr. R either. I’ve only ever discussed him with one other priest (diocesan) who was familiar with him – he was also not a fan. So that’s 0-3.

    It’s a pity. In my totally inconsequential opinion, I think Fr. R is right on the money a lot of the time, although he is very hard core. It think there are a lot more weapons in the Church’s spiritual arsenal that our priests could use to help us in the battle, but they just aren’t willing. In the case of Fr. R, they think they know better. And, they could be right. All three priest know Fr. Ripperger personally, and I do not. Still, it was disappointing.

  51. MB says:

    Oops! Sorry Fr. Z – I didn’t see your Rabbit Hole Closed sign before I posted my response.

  52. JuliB says:

    I was reading in some magazine several years back that a couple had been traveling in Europe and tasted some of the bread being sold in a market. It was bread made with heirloom/ancient types of wheat (IIRC) and they found it didn’t trigger one of the couple’s gluten sensitivities. One was sensitive, the other celiac.

    The person with celiac tried it and was fine. They were going to try to market it here, not sure if they ever did. I do believe that our wheat has changed enough over the last 100 years to possibly cause the increase in gluten issues.

    In addition, while not all people ‘abstaining’ from gluten have celiac, it’s probably a disease with a spectrum. So some may have issues that are not full blown celiac, but are significant nonetheless.

    Luckily, I don’t suffer from this. I shoot for low carb overall because I feel better that way, but I feel sorry for those who can’t eat any gluten.

  53. The CDF required “sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.”

    Many of the “low gluten” approved hosts were tested with an assay that reported less than 0.01% gluten. Others have been tested at less than 0.001% gluten. These reported results are stating that they could not find 0.01% gluten, or 0.001% gluten in the test samples. These reports are not stating that they found that percentage of gluten.

    Are these “low gluten” hosts valid matter?

  54. Amerikaner says:

    @TimothyEphesus – the hosts from the Benedictine Sisters in Clyde MO are valid matter and have been confirmed by the USCCB.

  55. Charles E Flynn says:

    Just published a few minutes ago, by one of the foremost authorities on human nutrition:

  56. iPadre says:

    I have a parishioner that comes mostly to the TLM, but occasionally to the OF. She needs a low gluten host and I have not problems. She is the first to the altar rail at the right of the gate. If I’m distracted and don’t go to her first, I go to the altar to get the pyx when I see her. No big deal. I’m grateful for this young woman’s deep faith. I also have a mother and child at the TLM who only take a small piece of the host because they don’t want low gluten hosts. Not a problem. I just break the host on the inside of the ciborium. The world never comes to an end. For anyone to say that priests and people at the TLM have a problem with low gluten hosts is crazy. My altar servers know where the special pyx and low gluten hosts are when someone comes to the sacristy to request one.

  57. ChesterFrank says:

    While Celiac disease and food allergies are real, sometimes maladies are hijacked by fringe groups for their own purposes. A lot of health food and dietary movements are long associated with larger ideological and political groups. I can understand that some people cannot tolerate gluten for medical reasons. I can also understand that some people will not tolerate that substance for ideological reasons.

  58. hwriggles4 says:

    I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT in my 20s. I remember taking a girl to the hospital who had a serious gluten reaction. We got her to the hospital, and she was beginning symptoms of septic shock. This is not a fabricated disorder.

    I have an uncle who about 25 years ago had a case of sprue, which is related to gluten. He nearly went septic, and if my aunt had not gotten him to the hospital, the doctor told him the outcome would have been worse. Since then, he has been very diligent about what he eats.

  59. MrsMacD says:

    Not related but related my friend noticed my baby was spitting up a lot and she told me she cut out milk and her baby stopped puking so I tried it with mine and he stopped spitting up. (I was nursing, so I cut milk out of my diet.). When he started eating food we kept milk out of his diet, and if he got a little milk he would have diarrhea. Lately that baby of mine had allergy testing and he had 0 allergies to major allergens. It made me feel crazy. Sometimes people have problems and they are hoping something will fix it. We can’t label everyone who doesn’t have the allergy hypochondriacs.

    Just to dispel that ‘at traditional parishes they don’t care for celiacs’ generalization. At our FSSP Parish I know Celiacs are asked to go to the beginning of the altar rail to recieve a ‘low gluten’ host.

  60. FT says:

    Going gluten-free can be important for non-celiacs, too. I have an auto-immune thyroid disease and am told that gluten will make the immune attacks worse.

    So if someone says they need to be gluten-free and then doesn’t have an obvious reaction to gluten, that doesn’t mean they are hysterical attention-seekers. I can eat it without noticing, but I try not to.

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