FOLLOW UP on Gluten and Celiac post

There is a lively post on low-gluten hosts and celiac disease.  HERE

In the comments under that post, a commentator says:

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.

This is a sweeping generalization, of course.

Apropos, I received this note yesterday.

Recently, after Mass at the SSPX chapel in ___, a young lady went up to the communion rail.  This was at least some 5 after Mass.

I thought she might be one of the young ladies who sings in the choir — they usually come down from the loft for Communion, but I think I recall that once in a while one or two or more receive Communion when Mass is over.

This time, the young lady knelt there and Fr. ___ came out from the sacristy and went up to the tabernacle — I was not too close to the sanctuary and was not deliberately observing what was going on, but when I looked up, the lady took what appeared to be a very small chalice that Father had brought over to her.  She drank the chalice in one gulp, and for a second I could see she was wearing white gloves to handle the mini-chalice.  Father then assisted her in doing two ablutions — he poured, and I think both were with water.

Father and his altar server with paten returned to the tabernacle and as far as I could see, place the clean mini-chalice back in the tabernacle.  I was thinking that perhaps he set aside a small amount of the Precious Blood at some point during the consecration or actually consecrated the contents of the mini-chalice.  [It is pretty much unthinkable that he would consecrate the sacred species outside of Mass… nefas!]


Afterwards the young woman took her gloves off — did she leave them on the communion rail?? — and prayed for a while in the pews.

Food for thought.

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  1. 7bellachildren says:

    The link to the post isn’t working so I don’t know exactly what it is says. However, I am highly allergic to gluten. When my girls make bread, pizza dough, etc. I have to leave the area and wait until all is clear again. I can’t breath it in, touch it or ingest it without getting sick, even the tiniest amount will make me ill. However, when it comes to the Eucharist, I have had no problems and I receive the whole Eucharist. My rationale is that is it the Body, Blood, and Divinity of Christ fully present, no trace of bread is left. Why would any particle of bread be left? We have had too many Eucharistic miracles to show that it is true flesh we are consuming, not bread. Only the taste and appearance are left. I know people will disagree with me, but this has been my own experience. Perhaps it’s a grace God has given me, since He knows I could not survive without receiving Him.

  2. Pingback: ASK FATHER: Gluten-free madness the work of the Father of Lies? | Fr. Z's Blog

  3. southerncatholicmom says:

    We have Latin Mass in Diocesean Parish. My friend has celiac and brings her own proper chalice. It looked like it was with everything else being consecrated. When she receives from the chalice, she doesn’t touch it. Father carefully gives the Precious Drink to her like one would give drink to a sick person. I think the purificater was used to keep anything from spilling. He cleans her chalice like his and after Mass she takes it back. She kept in a special box only to be used for this purpose. It was made of precious metal.

  4. KateriK says:

    Two thoughts come to mind:
    1) As a child, I remember a little wooden sign above my grandparents’ phone that read, “Great Spirit, let me not judge my brother until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
    2) There is a very moving story of the reception of Holy Communion done by the mother of Archbishop Athanasius Schneider during the years of Communist persecution by the Soviets. She was allowed to keep the several Consecrated Hosts in a pix for emergencies. The visiting priest could only come once a year, if even that often. She would distribute Holy Communion and wear silk gloves. After distributing Jesus, she would turn the gloves inside out burn them….
    I have contemplated this gluten problem from many angles over the years and I believe it is a sign of the times we live in. As with the return to the Vetus Ordo, perhaps we can also return to more rudimentary foods that haven’t been doctored with. There are farmers raising what is known as Einkorn wheat flour which is supposed to be much better for those with gluten sensitivity. We’ll see.
    It’s all very interesting to see how this plays out.

  5. rdtobias says:

    Please forgive me, of this has been covered.

    In may parish several and an increasing number of people claim to have celiac intolerance. I mentioned this to a new parishioner who is a farmer, and how I sometimes wondered what has happened to the human body to become so intolerant to something natural. I was mistaken. At the Swedish Agricultural University, samples of wheat has been saved from more than a hundred years back, I was told, and they show, that due to the refinement of wheat (in order to produce larges crops) the amount of gluten has multiplied during the last 50 years or so. The human body hasn’t always been able to adjust. That seems to me that as a pastor I ought to help. We have a pyxis in the tabernacle with low gluten hosts. Approved by USCCB as valid materia. I carry this, together with the ciborium when I give Communion and to those of my parish that have the intolerance I give them from the pyxis. Rather simple, really.

  6. TonyO says:

    rdtobias, while some people with gluten intolerance can manage such “low-gluten” hosts, some cannot – they will become seriously ill even with low-gluten products.

    In addition, there are some that are sensitive to wheat itself, not just the gluten. That makes even gluten-free not ok for them if there is any wheat in it. (Most _fully_ gluten-free products are also wheat free).

    I get that lay people should not touch the chalice. What I would like to ask here is whether the actual rules as written and as intended to be followed actually say “lay persons are never to touch the chalice”, or whether the “should” is, rather, a matter of the *usual* situation but adjustable with prudence. If the official rule does not permit of exceptions, then that puts paid to the matter – but if a lay person wearing gloves (as Fr. Z reports) is OK for a mini-chalice that she never touches directly … why does that not work for the regular chalice as well?

    In addition, while a lay person should not HOLD the chalice, a lay person touches the chalice with his or her lips if she drinks from the chalice -0 even if the priest holds the chalice. Is THAT element of “touching” not a concern with respect to the rule of “not touching” the chalice? Or is it still the same problem, and therefore falls under the general rule in exactly the same way as a lay person picking up the chalice?

    Finally, have any older priests who remember “the old days” (pre Vatican II) EVER seen a priest give a communicant the Precious Blood from the chalice, and if so, under what conditions? It seems to me that we must have had situations of persons who could not receive the wheaten host, but could receive wine, in the past – what did the Church used to do?

  7. Lurker 59 says:

    One of the issues at play here is that only a priest takes the Blessed Sacrament, everyone else receives the Blessed Sacrament. The difficulty with typical use of the chalice is that the liturgical action assumed by the communicant gravitates towards the taking of the chalice followed by the taking of the Precious Blood — especially when EMHCs are utilized. The “do not touch” stems from “do not take as the liturgical action of the communicant”, for if you do not touch, you physically cannot be in a position of taking.

    As another point, the Blessed Sacrament is pure gift. That gets lost in these discussions. No one has a right to the Sacrament. Discussions about “what if this or that allergy” tend to start from the position that people have the right to lay their hands upon Christ. If we approach the sacraments as gift that is given, our perspective on things change. Difficulties, hindrances, obstacles, impossibilities are no longer personal affronts to be conquered but crosses and sacrifices accepted.

    But yes, by all means, be mindful of what things are made out of and possibly alternatives where feasible, but with the proper perspective.

    @7bellachildren — Thank you kindly for sharing your strong trust and Faith in the Real Presence of our Lord.

  8. Dinocrates says:

    I’ve seen the same scenario that the person attending the sspx chapel described. I knew the woman in question and she is someone who does get violently ill from wheat. It’s definitely a cross to bear. Especially since I’m sure she knows there are many people speculating whether she is genuinely needing “special treatment” or just attention seeking. That being said, I’ve also encountered people who are ignorant about the issues with gluten and seem to think it’s just unhealthy so they refuse to eat it. That is probably because of the way gluten free products have been marketed.

    On a different note: A woman showed up at my friend’s parish with a gluten free host and demanded the priest consecrate it. She was not a member of the parish and was politely refused. She was told she could receive the Precious Blood. She made a scene and stormed out. This was a Novus Ordo parish. Some people are just nuts.

  9. JennyU says:

    As an adult I’ve developed an autoimmune sensitivity to gluten that does cause pretty severe symptoms when I am exposed to it, mostly neurological but also painful joint inflammation. I stopped receiving the Body of Christ under the form of a typical host about 2 years ago. The low gluten host does not give me symptoms, thanks be to God. The Precious Blood is also typically available at our parish. If I am at a daily Mass where no option is present, I make a spiritual communion and think of how blessed I am to be able to receive most of the time. I had a friend in grad school who went on to become a Nashville Dominican. She and her biological sister developed a severe gluten allergy that would cause an actual anaphylactic response if they were exposed. In her living quarters in Nashville, Sister had to eat in a separate dining area from her sisters and bring her own packaged utensils, plate, etc if she traveled. She would get violently ill if she received even the Precious Blood ( from the priest’s chalice) if it were not consecrated in a separate vessel. Sister M attended a healing Mass one day and went forward to receive prayer. She was deeply convicted that she had been completely healed of her allergy and went forward to receive Our Lord in His Body at communion time. Her sisters in the congregation gasped and were sure she’d made a terrible mistake, but she returned to her pew serenely and explained to them after Mass that she’d been healed. Later, after discussing her experience with an exorcist priest, she and he were able to confirm that her affliction had been a familial curse (her biological sister has since been healed of the allergy as well) and that there is a demon loose in the world who rages against the Eucharist in a particular way. Of course all of the devil’s minions hate Our Lord in His Body and Blood, but this seemed to indicate a particular demonic manifestation that renders people unable to partake normally of the Bread of Life. I also firmly believe that because our grain has been genetically modified beyond what our body can process (and exposed to gut damaging chemicals) on a natural level the deck is stacked against us too.

    I pray for full and eventually healing for all who suffer in this way – myself included – while giving thanks that the Church has made a way for me to continue to receive Our Lord. Thanks for this thoughtful discussion!

  10. un-ionized says:

    rdtobias, the increased per acre yield of modern wheat by breeding (which is the word I think you meant rather than “refining”) has nothing to do with its gluten content. Modern wheat has been bred to have more protein for nutritional reasons, though it has another effect of making better quality bread. The main protein in wheat is gluten. Modern wheat has also been bred to have a greater per acre yield. The greatest increase in gluten content has come about over the last 20 years or so. The flour I use for bread is 17% protein, which is very high.

  11. rbbadger says:

    His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver, has written a series of informative and highly entertaining encyclicals concerning matters liturgical. While these apply to the Byzantine Rite, one can sense the great care with which Metropolitan Isaiah wishes his priests and deacons to take when celebrating the liturgy.

    In the latest one, Metropolitan Isaiah has some choice words for those who do not want to receive the Body of Christ, but only the Blood of Christ.

    The remaining series of encyclicals may be seen here:

  12. un-ionized says:

    rbbadger, the gluten is one of the accidents that remain after the consecration.

  13. Sue in soCal says:

    I am sure there are many who have issues with gluten and the additives in flour in the US, however – and here is where I will get in trouble – I’m sure many have “developed” the problem because it’s part of the culture.

    The first “health issue” I remember was hypoglycemia. It was 1971. I had just met my future husband and his whole family (his mom, his grandmother, and six aunts and uncles) were convinced that they were affected. His grandfather was the only one who had been diagnosed and even that diagnosis was questionable. It seemed everywhere one looked there were hypoglycemics.

    Next, 40 years ago, ADD was the problem and sugar and ambiguous chemicals in food were supposed to be the source. As ADD faded, ADHD came to the fore.

    As I began my teaching career in 1993, ADHD was still going strong but now we had Tourettes added to the mix. At least a quarter of my classes were ADHD and Tourettes.
    My teaching career progressed and so did the diagnoses. I now had fewer ADHD and Tourettes and more autism. Autism came to be the prevalent problem, Tourettes faded to almost nothing, and ADHD was still on the radar but not as common. Asperger’s syndrome began to gain ground until it was folded once again into autism. Terms for these problems morph all the time as I found out when I was corrected in an IEP meeting (Individual Education Plan) when I used last year’s term. Most of them do not identify the underlying problem which is the disintegration of the family and the angry, disoriented children produced.

    Now it seems that everyone has some special physical or psychological problem. I have seen toy poodle “therapy” or “service” dogs at Mass. I have seen special “fragrance-free” seating sections in Catholic churches for those who cannot tolerate scents. We do not have incense at Mass or exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in many places because of respiratory and allergy issues.

    Casual, loud conversation inside the church has, interestingly enough, become the norm. Wandering about to greet as many as possible during the Sign of Peace is considered Christian. Those who don’t want to be part of the social club are considered suspect, unfriendly, abnormal.

    Lest someone think that I have no sympathy for these disabilities, know that I have many in my family and extended family with progressive physical disabilities, including two of my sons, one of whom, while he now walks with difficulty with a cane, has not applied for handicapped parking or other aid. Many of my family members suffer from dyslexia and have spent time in special education, including a third son, yet are self-supporting and even successful business owners.

    I don’t discount those who have health or emotional issues but I find it hard to believe that we have such a dramatic increase across the board. In teaching, I have found that many of the diagnosed problems allow parents and children to be given a pass for subpar performance. Many adults I know that claim these problems talk incessantly about their particular issue. Gone is the idea of offering up any such sufferings in silence for the salvation of souls or for the relief of souls in purgatory (if they believe that there is a purgatory).

    If one truly has such an allergy or other problem, by all means, take whatever precautions are necessary, receiving Christ in the form one must. If incense bothers move to the back of the Church, step outside for a moment or go to a less formal Mass that does not have the priest incensing. Our sacred liturgy has become focused not on Christ but on the individual. We need to find moderation in our lives and turn our eyes back to our Savior and our God.

  14. KAS says:

    It would be helpful to note that gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance and celiac disease are not the same thing. True celiac sufferers cannot tolerate even the slightest bit of gluten although the flare-up may take a few hours to make itself known, and over time, some healing of the damage can take place and increase how long it takes to react in a noticeable way. Celiacs is also not curable without supernatural intervention.

    Gluten sensitivity is much less and often a combination of an ancient wheat like einkorn and the use of sourdough can give them a bread they will tolerate, similarly gluten intolerance may be able to tolerate an ancient wheat made as a true sourdough-but it will be very individual and depend a great deal on how much damage they have in their intestinal tract.

    People with Celiac will not be able to tolerate eating bread with gluten ever, anymore than a diabetic can eat a sugary desert without damage. Yet someone with insulin resistance might get away with the occasional cookie and still have good control over their insulin levels.

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