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Communion Wafers
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I am a devout Catholic and I know that I can receive low gluten wheaten hosts. My question are:

1. Can a Coeliac tolerate low gluten hosts? I beleive the allowable gluten ratio is 200 (I think this refers to 200 parts per million).

2. If you can tolerate a low gluten host, why can't a person receive a very small portion of a normal wheaten host? In other words, only ingest a very small portion of the host, perhaps half a fingernal or less?

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Caeli

Your question is interesting. How did you find out that you can tolerate a low gluten host?

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Caeli

Your question is interesting. How did you find out that you can tolerate a low gluten host?

My naswer is that I don't know if I can! I guess my question is how much or little gluten can a coeliac ingest before there is an adverse reaction? Is it totally zero. It is not as if somebody is having a large slice of bread when they receive communion. If somebody was to have a minute piece of bread (like one does when one might receive less than 0.5cm piece of consecrated unleavened bread) will this be enough to "set off" the process of villi destruction or might one only expect a minute, perhaps physically and medically an indiscernable (undetectable) if any reaction?

I guess I would like to ask a medical professional to answer this question. I am visiting a gastroenterologist on Monday so I might ask him. I am afraid though that the answer will be "I don't know" and perhaps I'll just have to keep receiving communion and be on a otherwise gluten-free diet and see whether there is some recovery in my villi when I have my next endoscopy biobsy of my small intestines.

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One study showed that .1g of gluten raised antibodies. So, that small of an amount has been proven to do damage. Damage hasn't been measured at lower amounts, but who knows if our bodies are still having a slight reaction, just not enough to measure. From what I understand, .1g is just about the amount in one of the low gluten hosts. So, I wouldn't even trust a low gluten host not to do damage. If you really, really, really have to take communion, I would suggest that only a small portion of even the low gluten wafer be consumed. And if you don't need to take it, I'd avoid it altogether. But that's a personal decision.

Debbie

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Just receive the wine until the church comes around and realizes a rice cracker doen't interfere with the commandment. :)

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I've heard you can forego the wafers and just have a sip of the wine instead. Have you looked into that?

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Not all Catholic churches drink the wine. Wine is part of the sacrament but not communal. My church (catholic) has totally Gluten Free Wafers that they will include in the eucharist for me. I just have to let them know prior to mass that I am there.

BTW, it is true that the pope has said it is ok for people with celiac to drink the wine only.

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Not all Catholic churches drink the wine. Wine is part of the sacrament but not communal. My church (catholic) has totally Gluten Free Wafers that they will include in the eucharist for me. I just have to let them know prior to mass that I am there.

BTW, it is true that the pope has said it is ok for people with celiac to drink the wine only.

This is one of my concerns with celiac. I'm a Catholic and I definately get reactions when I have gotten communion. I've looked into this and the Catholic Church states that the communion wafer must be wheat with no substitutions. So basically rice or potato, etc... will not be considered the Body of Christ. I stopped taking communion and if they don't have wine I just go without. Not to sound fanatical but God made us this way right? I can't explain it....I just try to adapt.

Joe

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I am prost. myself and have decided to opt out of communion for the time being until I discuss bringing in gluten-free bread in my church...however I literally just finished reading a study on a Catholic woman who was completely gluten-free, except for communion, and although her symptoms disappeared...her intestinal damage was still severe. Personally, I would never choose anything 'low gluten'...only no gluten. At this point, research is still limited and there is little way of knowing how much gluten one person cab "get away" with vs. another. I understand the powerful significance of communion, as a Christian, but I do not believe that taking such a risk with a glutened host would glorify God. I do not think that is a reflection on a lack of faith either... I know for many Catholics, a no-gluten host is not an option at present...but there are other options, including experiencing communion on your own or with a bible study group or friends. Communion is ours to remember Christ on our own, not just in the Church... (Not such a technical answer for you : )

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As a Catholic, I choose not to take Communion at all under the present circumstances. It is an option to take the wine only, but there is a real chance of CC there. The last time I took Communion, I began to feel sick in the car on the way home. That was shortly before my DX. I am so sensitive to even the slightest amount of gluten that I'd be afraid to take even a low gluten host. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that because I react to a Communion wafer, the Church sees that as a contradiction of a basic Church doctrine--that the bread and wine is actually changed to the body and blood--thus it should not make me sick. Only it does. They say to treat Celiacs with "quiet acceptance". Sadly, the resolution to this, I believe, is a long way off. This does not in any way change my personal relationship with God. As He said--Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me".

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I belong to an Episcopal Church and we dip our Communion wafers in the wine vs drinking the wine, so CC would be a real issue. be careful that no one is dipping in the wine at your church (maybe they have a cold and dicide to dip instead of drink)

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Not all Catholic churches drink the wine. Wine is part of the sacrament but not communal. My church (catholic) has totally Gluten Free Wafers that they will include in the eucharist for me. I just have to let them know prior to mass that I am there.

BTW, it is true that the pope has said it is ok for people with celiac to drink the wine only.

The Catholic Church does NOT recognize as valid, a host which is gluten free. Is your church an off-shoot of a Catholic community? The Catholic Church has very strong opinions on this gluten issue and will not *at present* make acceptions.

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The problem is with the church and the doctrine of Transubstantiation. If you believe that a certain type of bread is literally transformed into the body of Christ (which I don't), then you're out of luck if you can't have that certain type of bread. And since according to the church, salvation is obtained through good works, including something you can't do, you're out of luck there too. Does anyone else see a major problem here? Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they were so stuck on outward rules and regulations, they missed the spirit of the Law and the heart of God altogether. Your body is a temple, so harming it would not be pleasing to Him (the Catholic church is saying that harming it is necessary to please God).

You're not doing anything wrong if you go against the church and use a rice cracker. Biblically, they are the ones in the wrong, and that is not your problem.

Being in right standing with God does not come from the sacraments, nor by "being a good person". No sinful human can please God. We are all guilty of breaking His law (test yourself by the Ten Commandments) and according to the Bible, are deserving of death. Only Jesus could please God through the perfect life that he lived on earth. And only He could pay the penalty due for our sins. Salvation is by grace, through faith, alone. If you accept His sacrifice as payment for your sins, He will make you new and good works will flow from you. You will no longer have to work for your salvation, and feel guilty if you can't do it all. It's already been done for you. You can take communion until you're blue in the face, but if you have not accepted Jesus's gift to you in faith, and the Spirit of God does not live within you, it will be a waste of time.

I can't read through a post on religion without telling you about the good news that you can have salvation today, and know that you are saved for all eternity. Nothing is required of you except believing and accepting!

Lisa

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Not all Catholic churches drink the wine. Wine is part of the sacrament but not communal. My church (catholic) has totally Gluten Free Wafers that they will include in the eucharist for me. I just have to let them know prior to mass that I am there.

BTW, it is true that the pope has said it is ok for people with celiac to drink the wine only.

I'm also Catholic. Actually, the wine IS communal. Though we in the west traditionally favor the bread over the wine, BOTH are actually equal and you can have just one as both the body and blood.

Secondly, the Church does not recognize a gluten-free wafer. You may have read about the 8-year-old celiac girl whose "Communion" was not recognized because she used a gluten-free host.

Of course, you can drink only the wine. A few pitfalls there, as well, though. First, the wafers are sometimes dipped into the wine prior to the mass. Floating crumbs can mean for contamination. Second, the priest sometimes brushes crumbs into the cup, etc.

And about the low gluten host: 200 ppm sounds VERY high to me. I had heard about low-gluten hosts having much less. I think we can only tolerate about that amount each day and there is inevitable contamination in your daily life that won't affect you on its own, but will in conjunction with a low-gluten host of such high gluten quantity.

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I am an Episcopalian and have worked out a communion rice cracker with my priest. However, my husband is Catholic so I understand (somewhat) the challenges you face with communion. I would highly reccomend speaking to your priest. From what I understand having just the wine "counts" as communion. I remember reading a thread where the catholic celiac has a special chalice to drink the wine from to eliminate cc issues. There was also a article in Gluten Free Living (some time ago) regarding the low gluten host. It might be another thing to research. I wish you luck. I know from personal experience how meaningful communion is.

Hez

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I guess I need to make a confession, namely, thai I "caeli" am a Catholic Priest who only very recently (nearly four weeks) was diagnosed coeliac. So for me, as somebody who is daily celebrating Mass, this is an issue I need to resolve for my peculiar situation.

The option of receiving communion from the chalice alone would probably be the option I would take if I was lay person. The church teaches a doctrine called "concommitance", which essentially says that Christ is truly and completely present in his divinity and humanity in both the species of the bread and of the wine. Therefore, to receive communion only under the form of the bread or of the wine without the other is to receive Christ completely.

The diffiulty for a priest is that as the principal celebrant of the Mass, he is required to receive communion under both forms, that is under teh form of bread and of wine. Hence the reason that I have been using small low gluten hosts since being diagnosed.

The Church permits the use of low gluten wheaten hosts (apparently 0.01%), but does not allow the use of any other grain (eg. rice, barley etc) as this would be invalid matter and therefore, despite what any priest might want to think or say, it is impossible for a priest to consecrate (turn into the body and blood of Christ) a non-wheaten bread. It would be like him taking a piece of chocolate or the like and believing just because he uses the words of consecration the chocolate piece will become the body of Christ. Catholic doctrine teaches that for a sacrament to be valid the priest must use the proper matter (eg. wheaten bread) and say the prescribed words (eg. This is my my Body). Essentially I have no problem with this. I guess my question comming at it from a philosophical perspective (which is essentially the Churches approach), is gluten of the essence of wheat? In other words, if I remove the gluten from wheat, is it still wheat? A bit deep I know, but this is the question that needs to be asked and researched if ever we are going to resolve this question. I guess we could also ask, is it ever possible to remove all the gluten from wheat. I thnk probably not, but I am not a scientist. But if there is always a minute percentage of gluten in wheat, at what minuscule percentage does wheat cease to be wheat. Or to put the question another way, how much gluten is required for wheat to be defined as wheat? And upon what scientific fact did the Churc discern that 0.01% presence of gluten in wheat makes the substance wheat?

Like many of you, I guess I ask the theological question: If the Eucharist is the "bread of life" given to us by Christ, why would an all knowing, all loving God choose a substance that he knew to be dangerous to a proportion of the human race, and rather than improve their quality of earthly life would make it miserable? I guess another qustion might be, that jsut as the Church accepts variations in the words used for the consecration of bread and wine (between the various Eastern and Western Churches) why can't it be more understanding in terms of gluten content. There is also the issue of the Eastern Churches using levened bread and the western church using unleavened bread.

Finally, here is another thing that you might find bizarre, but prior to being diagnosed coeliac a few weeks ago, I was intending to go to Rome to do further study in theology, specifically liturgy. I think I have found a subject I could use as the subject of any research thesis I might write! For the past twelve months I have been studying Italian with the view of doing further study. My plan was to go to Italy in February to do a further few months study of Italian and then enrol in a Pontifical University in October to commence a licentiate in Liturgy. Given my very recent diagnosis, I plan to delay my departure until April to see if discern improvement in my health, as one of the things that was worrying me about going overseas to study was the question in my mind of why I wasn't feling all that well adn the fear if I went away I might get sick.

So, that is my confession and my questions. I guess I will continue with the low gluten bread and see what eventuates!

Thanks to you all for your contribution and suggestions. Perhaps God might be using me to make sense of all of this for the Church? Dare I beieve it?

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It's a privilege to meet you Caeli.

I do believe that we are on this earth for a reason and at times I get glimpses of someone above pointing me in certain direction. If your planned research helps some of us, then it's such a worthwhile step.

Just to add a note on wheat/gluten: I have read somewhere in recent months that gluten can be washed out of wheat and that there are gluten factories doing just that. Although I can't now recall what the precise byproduct of this is, it makes me think that some of wheat content will remain (ie the non-gluten part), so that it what remains should still be somewhat wheat.

Also, since the wheat has evolved through human interference in the last 2000 years, as the book Dangerous Grains says: development of more disease-resistant forms of wheat is no doubt one of the reasons of adverse health reaction in humans. The wheat of 2000 years ago would be quite different from today's wheat.

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Caeli

You're situation is a struggle...hope you feel better soon so that you can continue with your studies.

Let me say that I was raised Catholic and was educated by the Sisters of Charity circa 1960's (old guard mixed with Vatican II) so I understand importance of transubstantiation and how it differs from consubstantiation.

Perhaps you can shed some light on this part of the "gluten free" host dilema....so my question is: why isn't rice, corn or potato accepted as an ingredient? Is it wheat only because there is a belief that during Last Supper Jesus used wheat bread?

And lastly, if I could use an argument (that is if I was called upon by Rome to beg for a gluten free host) on behalf of rice, corn or potato bread I'd say that God made all of these ingredients equally and therefore, we are disrespecting God to say one is better than another. God created wheat, rice, corn and potatoes and when finished God saw it was good. So who I am to question His works?

Debbie :)

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What would the pope do if the only type of wheat that was available, due to some kind of natural disaster or manmade ecological catastrophe, made everybody sick (like we get from gluten) - including himself?

As a person that attended several catholic schools from the 1 950's through the 70's, I can say, without a single doubt, that it would be a whole different situation and the rules would change immediatly, if they themselves were subject to what we go through when glutened.

Edited by celiachap
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Caeli--I am happy you are with us! I read that you have been recently diagnosed with Celiac. If you had known before you were ordained, would you (or could you) have still chosen this path? I posted my opinions on this earlier in the thread. As you can tell from that, I am a bit torn about this. While I understand the facts of the matter, in my heart, I keep thinking that I'm not "welcome at the table" any more given my Celiac status. Because of the questionable saftey of taking only the wine, the (low) gluten content of the host and the fact that a host without gluten is invalad, I see no way that I would be able to take Communion again if things stay the same. I grew up in the Church, attending classes twice a week, became a CCD preschool teacher, brought my two sons up the same, and served as Godmother for my niece. My husband, for his own reasons-not the least of which to join the rest of his family, converted to the Catholic Church in 1994. Am I wrong to feel this way? Anyway, I wish you good luck and good health as you continue your studies.

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"Caeli" -- of course! I knew it was "the skies," but I neglected here to connect its alternative meaning (the heavens) with the idea of priesthood. :lol:

In your predicament, it DOES seem that the only option is the low-gluten host.

If you had known before you were ordained, would you (or could you) have still chosen this path?

I can answer one half of this; to be perfectly technical, he could not have been ordained if he had celiac. Whether he would have wanted to only he can answer.

And lastly, if I could use an argument (that is if I was called upon by Rome to beg for a gluten free host) on behalf of rice, corn or potato bread I'd say that God made all of these ingredients equally and therefore, we are disrespecting God to say one is better than another. God created wheat, rice, corn and potatoes and when finished God saw it was good. So who I am to question His works?

Interesting point, Deb!

I keep thinking that I'm not "welcome at the table" any more given my Celiac status. Because of the questionable saftey of taking only the wine, the (low) gluten content of the host and the fact that a host without gluten is invalad, I see no way that I would be able to take Communion again if things stay the same

Amen (argh, stupid puns...)

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I guess I don't want to get into a debate about all this before I know all the facts, scriptural, historical, theological and scientific.

The question of gluten free wheaten bread/hosts/wafers (if such is possible) needs to be looked at in terms of what constitutes wheat. The Church looks at these things in terms of Thomistic/Aristotelian philosophy in regard to issues of the essence - nature - accidents of bread/wheat.

I feel sure that the Church will never consider rice or similar alternatives, as this would go against the scriptural origins of the matter used for the sacrament of the Eucharist. The answer to this problem I think is to consider and determine what scientifically constitutes "wheaten flour", and what can be removed or needs to be present for it to be still considered "wheaten flour". That is, if we remove all discernable gluten from wheaten flour, is it still "wheaten flour"? Is it even possible to do this? I think a scientist needs to come in here! Also, what is removed when wheat is processed into wheaten flour? Is it just the husks, and might one argue that the husks are an essential part of "wheaten flour"? Which begs the question, is the highly processed wheaten flour we use today equivalent to the wheaten flour Christ would have used?

Thanks for your responses.

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Reply to Patti and celiac3270.

celiac3270 - you are very observant about the word "caeli". On my email address I use the words caeli cola, which roughly translates to "heavenly dweller". I liked thje idea of playing with the words "coca cola"? I hope I'm not being presumptuos ;)

As I have only very recently been diagnosed, I think celiac3270 is right in saying that if this condition was known to have existed when I was ordained, I could not have been ordained, which makes me feel a little deflated. However, the fact is that I have been a priest for 27 years and the existence of celiac disease at the time of my ordination was not known (if it did exist at that time). In hind-sight, I suspect I have been suffering from the effects of celiac disease for at least 20 years if not longer. I guess this is another of my questions. Is one born a coeliac, that is, is it genetic?

Technically, I believe that if I am not able to receive the host at communion (be it the ordinary or low gluten), I am no longer able to clebrate Mass on my own. I have to concelebrate with another priest and I cannot be the principal celebrant. It is for this reason I am keen to find out if I can tolerate the small amount of gluten in a low gluten wafer. This I think will be a matter of medical observation.

I must be off now - I am rosterde for the 7.30am Mass here tomorrow morning - Feast of the Epiphany - three wise men eh! - lets hope wisdom reigns eventually in this question!

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Caeli,

Noticed you use the other spelling of celiac...where are you from? Where do you work? Do you think that you've had celiac for all those 27 years and were misdiagnosed or didn't have symptoms?

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Caeli, Noticed you use the other spelling of celiac...where are you from? Where do you work? Do you think that you've had celiac for all those 27 years and were misdiagnosed or didn't have symptoms?

He's a Jesuit spy sent by the vatican to report the doings on this board, lol! :o

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