Hi there! "The body of Christ, given for you," intones the pastor, as he tries to hand me a piece of bread. "Thanks, I'm allergic," is my reply.
The pastor stops, momentarily stunned. He manages to mumble out a blessing and goes on to the next person. It's my fault, really. I didn't get to church early enough to flag down the visiting pastor and inform him of my communion habits.
I am one of a growing number of people who cannot eat gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, oats, barley, and related grains. It also hides in additives such as modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and food colourings. Reactions to gluten vary from mild indigestion to anaphylactic shock. I am so sensitive that even a minute amount makes me violently ill.
I am not alone. There are various reasons why someone would want to follow a gluten-free diet. People with celiac disease avoid gluten to prevent intestinal damage. There are people with gluten or wheat allergies or intolerances. People with conditions such as multiple sclerosis or autism sometimes find that a gluten-free diet improves their quality of life. Whatever the reason, adhering to a gluten-free diet presents some challenges for receiving communion. I can't eat the communion bread. Because I cannot consume even a trace amount, I am also unable to drink from the common cup.
Depending on the community I am in, I either commune first, or I use individual cups. I carry a communion kit in my car - wrapped brown rice crackers that can be used by any church I visit. They must be wrapped to avoid contamination.
In the bulletin at my home congregation, we announce that brown rice bread is available. Brown rice crackers are kept in a container on the altar so that more people from our community can fully participate in communion. The participants select their own piece to avoid contamination.
I will follow this diet for the rest of my life. It's not the easiest path to take, but the support of my family, friends, and church community makes this path easier to tread.
Rebecca Goyan, a member of Faith Lutheran and organist at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran, Calgary, Alberta
WAFER ALLERGY BARS PRIESTS written by Madeleine Bunting
"The Vatican has provoked fury by issuing a decree banning men who suffer from an allergy to gluten from becoming priests.
The extraordinary ruling would in theory have prohibited one of the most prominent Catholic clerics of the postwar period from being ordained - the Archbishop of Liverpool, Derek Worlock, who suffers from the allergy known as coeliac disease.
All communion wafers must contain gluten to be suitable for celebration of the Eucharist, the Vatican has decreed.
Gluten, the protein in wheat, triggers the debilitating coeliac disease, which afflicts more than 50,000 people in the UK.
'Given the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the priest, candidates for the priesthood who are affected by the celiac (sic) disease.....may not be admitted to Holy Orders,' reads the letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most powerful bodies in the Catholic church. The letter was sent to the presidents of episcopal conferences around the world during the summer.
Monsignor Kieran Conry of the Catholic Media Office said the ban on coeliacs was unlikely to be applied, and dismissed it as 'simply the logic of the letter'."
As I am not a catholic, I feel I should not make a comment save that it is nice to know we have an Archbishop among our midst even though it appears his tenure may be on shaky ground if the Vatican wants to get tough.
If you can make these from scratch why not just cut out disks from the rice paper used in Asian spring rolls?
Alcoholic priests ordained before the new rule are allowed to drink grape must instead of wine. As much as I am sure some priest somewhere must have celiac disease I cannot say what they would use for the host. If they follow church law then they probably suffer the wrath of gluten all too often.
Every Sunday morning, I put one on the patten at the back of the church, to be brought up with the communion wafers during the offertory. Everyone on the altar knows that that little square is mine, and usually the altar personnel inform a visiting priest who it is for. If that hasn't happened, when it is my turn at the communion rail, I put my finger on my rice bread, if I am being offered one of the usual wafers, or I say quietly "the rice bread". I always sit on the same side of the church, so that if there are two priests distributing the bread, my little "wafer" is in the hands of the correct priest. On the rare occasion when it ends up in the wrong hands, the priest walks over to the other person and retrieves it.
When my purse's zip lock is empty, I put in four more, and that way, I don't have to remember every Sunday to bring my "wafer". If I attend communion during the week, usually the paten is not placed at the back of the church, so I then find the priest before the service and give her my "wafer" so it will be with the others. This system has worked well for me for years, and having your bread "wafer" on the same plate as the other wafers won't run into cross contamination, since they are quite firm and don't spread crumbs.
This plan also works when you celebrate the Lord's supper with other denominations who use real bread.
"I. Concerning permission to use low-gluten alter breads: A. This may be granted by Ordinaries to priests and laypersons affected by celiac disease, after presentation of a medical certificate.
B. Conditions for the validity of the matter:
1. Special hosts quibus glutinum ablatum est are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist;
2. Low-gluten hosts are valid matter, provided that they contain the amount of gluten sufficient to obtain the confection of bread, that there is no addition of foreign materials , and that the procdure for making such hosts is not such as to alter the nature of the substance of the bread."
Holy Communion is to be given under the form of bread alone or under both kinds in accord with the norm of the liturgical laws or even under the form of wine alone in case of necessity.
A case of need for giving wine alone is demonstrated ''whenever a person is physically or psychologically unable - whether permanently or temporarily - to consume the Eucaharistic bread''. Those with celiac disease qualify under this Law.
For those whose church would accept an alternative, the following is a tested recipe for a gluten-free Host that may be brought in a sealed container to the church, hand to a member of the clergy, and blessed along with the gluten containing Hosts.
It was suggested, however, that the gf wafers be kept seprate from the remainder in a pyx to be held by the Rector. In addition, it was suggested that we become licensed Eucharistic Ministers to facilitate handiing the Hosts. It is a simple matter of paperwork done by the Rector.
My experience is that when I approached my local priest here in Dublin, there was no hassle whatsoever. He gave me the choice of bringing my own gluten-free hosts or of just receiving wine on its own, along with the altar servers. Also it is the practice in our church at weekday masses to serve bread and wine to all the (admittedly small) congregation.
It seems the problems some of you have been having are very much based on the personal attitudes of individual priests,etc. The rules are not cast in stone!
Believe me when I say there is hope, even for Catholics. I have been off the internet for quite some time because my computer crashed. However, for those of you who don't know me, I am Annette Bentley, President of the American Celiac Society. For years I have been pursuing getting approval for a non-gluten bread for communion. Many priest and minster have recognized that this is a serious problem for their Celiac curch members and have allowed a subsitute bread of non-gluten but have not necessarily publicly announced what they were doing.
A couple of months ago, I received permission from my local pastor after I had been invited to write an article for the Eucharistic Minister on the subject, to use a gluten free wafer. I was more then delighted that my personal problem was solved but realize that other still face the lack of knowledge by their clergy. DON'T GIVE UP. I am collecting names and address of all individuals for the vacatian. Please send me your names and addresses and any comments to 58 Musano Ct., W. Orange, NJ 07052.
My parish priest suggested that Celiac obtain a pix and place their communion wafer in it. Then have it placed on the alter cloth for consecration during the Mass. This has been very simple for me as now I don't have to explain to every visiting priest before Mass.
My sincere prayers that hopefully this will be world widely accepted and that those with problems of unformed clergy will press on. Please feel free to contact me.
Tentatively, I am going to bring a small piece of my GF bread to receive for communion. They have told me that this will be OK. I have talked to my instructor about it, she had never heard of anything like Celiac Disease. I had thought it would be fine for me to have a sip of the wine until I found out about this dropping of host into the wine. Any opinions on this? I've been waiting for so long to take communion & I am worried about also not getting sick afterward.
So contact your priest, and see if he got the letter and is open to doing the same thing for you. Just bring your own host, and make sure it doesn't get contaminated from the other hosts.
(1) the reason for unleavened bread dates back to the Passover. They had to be ready to flee so they couldn't take time for the rising of bread--thus the unleavened bread that contains no yeast and this has been a tradition continued. Interesting, huh?
(2) Regarding the transubstantiation requiring wheat--my priest's response was like mine--it was probably believed long ago by someone and some have taken longer to make changes that need to be made in the thinking of it all. He does not agree it needs to be wheat. He also said that the National Conference of Liturgy Directors (I think this is correct) had made a proposal to Rome for a change and also a recipe that would be GF. Isn't it great that they understand our needs?
(3) My priest said the main procedure for making the communion work is "getting the host in the dish of communion hosts and the priest knowing where you are sitting or you going to the priest for distribution." I put my bread in a small paper "pill-like" container to keep it away from the hosts. The ArchBishop was very pleased about our way of working this out. Sorry this is so long--I just want to make it clear. And now for the recipe--remember, it is not "gourmet." You may be able to remake it to be even better. I have tried different ones and this has dissolved better in my mouth. It is a version of one used at our Catholic University Center several years ago. I only changed the flour.
Some people have been able to work with the Church. They include a small packaged piece of GF host that is distributed at the time of Communion, with the bread served the rest of the congregation. It was a prearranged situation. Some provided a storehouse of GF crackers or bread and replenished it when the supply runs low.
Some people just bring their own bread and quietly slip it in their hand prior to being served.v Some take only the wine and not the bread.
Some bake GF bread and serve it to the whole congregation.
The most difficult of responses came from the Roman Catholic population. All but one stated that the Catholic Church forbids anything but wheat to be served for Communion, and that various parishes had a negative response to people who wanted to substitute GF food. Some of these people broke their GF diets to comply with the strict regulations. My heart goes out to those in that predicament. May God Bless them.
All in all there seems to be a lot of people who were uncomfortable and felt more work had to be done in many Churches to help others understand the needs of the CD person. This might be a good place to begin public education in our neighborhoods.
If I could ever bake a decent loaf of bread, I would do what some of the people do and share the GF bread with the whole congregation occasionally. What an excellent chance to bring awareness to others.
Our Church just asked others to spread information by writing articles for the monthly publication. I believe I will submit an article on CD and take the opportunity to explain the special need of the celiac. Perhaps I might find I am not the only one in the congregation.
The "Hol-Grain Crackers" brand is like flat bread and be purchased in a health food store.
Q. Must I receive both the body and the Blood of Christ to fully receive Him?
A. In recent years there has been a renewed interest and practice of receiving the Eucharist under both forms or species, bread and wine. But this is not necessary to receive the Eucharistic Presence of Christ. The Council of Trent taught that the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist begins with the words of consecration and endures as long as the species of bread and wine subsist. Furthermore, Christ is present whole and entire in both species and in all parts of the species. So if the bread is broken the Presence of Christ is not divided. (Catechism #1377) If one receives a larger portion of bread, they do not receive more Christ!
In the General Instructions of the Roman Missal, paragraph 240 states, "The sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharist meal appears more clearly. The intention of Christ that the new and eternal covenant be ratified in his blood is better expressed.."Para.241 goes on to remind us that we are not deprived of any grace necessary for salvation when we receive Communion under one form. People who are allergic to wheat may receive just the cup and they gain the same grace and Presence as one who receives just the bread. Christ is present fully and completely, whatever the sacramental form we choose.
This recipe makes enough for 500 people. I just reduced it significantly and made enough to last me for a while. It keeps in the freezer. These aren't necessarily wafers, but tortilla-like. I broke them apart
6 cups GF flour (I used Jowar/sorghum)
1 cup olive oil (it didn't take much with the amount of flour I used)
1 cup milk ( I think any lactose-free milk should do as well)
I used a tiny bit of xanthan gum, enough to make the dough sticky enough to work with.
Mix together well and knead and roll out thin. Cut around a small saucer dish. Bake 7 or 8 minutes on each side in a 350 degree oven. Looks like tortillas. Serves about 500.
Turn on oven to 350 degrees
2 Tblsp. potatoe starch
1 Cup minus 2 Tblsp. (7/8 cup) cornstarch
3 Cups brown or white rice flour
1 Tsp. baking soda
1 Tsp. salt
2 Tblsp. Xanthum Gum
1/2 Cup Margerine
1 Cup Buttermilk
Mix dry ingredients together.
Cut Margerine into dry ingredients.
Add Buttermilk and mix with fingers until workable.
Roll with rolling pin on a rice floured surface as thin as possible.
Cut in small circles-- use bottle caps.
Place in a 350 degree oven for 6 minutes. Will NOT brown.
This recipe can be halved unless you have a very large family; will be enough for a year.
1/2 T. sugar
1/4 C. soy flour
1/4 C. potato starch
1/4 C. brown rice flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
Mix the above very well together
1 T white Crisco
1/2 T. butter flavored Crisco
1 1/2 T GF honey
Add in small amounts:
1/4 C. water (or a speck less)
Mix well and spread in pan (I usually use a 9-inch pie pan and spread it thin--about 1/4 inch thick) Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
After it cools, I cut in pieces about 1 to 1 1/4 inches by 1/2 inch. This can be by works better for your container, etc. I cut my container down a little with the help of scotch tape (smiles!) and make it smaller so it leans up and makes it easier for the priest.
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