The Body of Christ for the Gluten Intolerant

Until I started dating my husband, I was completely unaware of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.  It was a totally foreign concept to me that, during mass, bread and wine is transformed into the actual, true, 100% Body and Blood of Jesus.  In my journey to conversion, I learned that the Catholic Church bases this belief both on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.  John 6:32-71 is taken very literally in the Catholic Church.

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Even if your beliefs are different, please imagine what an amazing miracle it would be to meet Jesus on earth.  To touch Him and feel Him.  For Catholics, this is what we encounter at every mass when we receive Holy Communion.  We receive the same loving, merciful Jesus that we will encounter in Heaven.

When a Catholic is diagnosed with gluten intolerance (which is a vague label for we-can’t-explain-why-you-feel-like-crap-when-you-eat-gluten) or celiac disease, it can be devastating to stop receiving Jesus’ Body during Communion.

My son, Blaise, is 9 1/2 and has been gluten-free most of his life.  I went gluten-free for six long months between babies #5 and #6, but I fell off the wagon when pregnancy cravings hit.  My autoimmune issues snowballed after that, and I am proud to say I have been gluten-free again (and feeling great!) for almost two years.

In the past, Blaise and I took Communion only in the form of wine.  At Communion time, we crossed our arms over our chest to signal that we couldn’t take Communion.  If we had a visiting priest or an unfamiliar Eucharistic minister, it was a bit awkward and confusing.  We received a blessing, then quickly moved into line to receive Jesus through the wine.

I said I was fine, I didn’t miss it.  Catholic doctrine explains that all of Jesus is contained in either form of Communion.  I stayed positive, not wanting my little boy to feel like he was missing out.  But I missed receiving Jesus’ Body.  Terribly.

This summer we puzzled our new parish priest, so I explained to him that gluten makes us sick.  Father immediately said he would research the extremely low gluten communion hosts made in Clyde, Missouri, by the Benedictine sisters.  These hosts are made of gelatinized wheat starch, with such a tiny amount of gluten left in the wafer that it is unmeasurable.   The amount of gluten left in a Communion wafer is less than 0.01%.  To limit exposure, we would break off a small piece of the host so that we would only be ingesting 1/8 to 1/4 of a wafer.

Do you or someone you love have celiac disease or trouble digesting gluten?  Contact the Catholic Celiac Society and your parish priest to learn more.  As always, consult your doctor to come up with the best Communion option for your specific circumstances.

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My son Blaise and I received our own special pyx from Father.  Before mass, we enter the sacristy, break off two small pieces from a low gluten host, and put them in our pyx.  We give the pyx to the priest or deacon, and our special hosts are consecrated into Jesus’ Body right along with the regular hosts during mass.

Blaise and I were so excited the first time we got to receive Jesus’ Body again!   We were beaming from ear to ear!  Practically skipping down the aisle to Communion!  Blaise proudly takes our pyx with him to school for mass days.  He is very responsible about remembering, often reminding me that he needs his pyx that morning.

“When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.”  —St. Josemaria Escriva

I waited for two years to receive Jesus’ Body again.  How amazing is it that He has been waiting for me for over 2,000 years?

Linking up with:

Catholic Bloggers Link-Up Blitz 2014

16 thoughts on “The Body of Christ for the Gluten Intolerant

  1. Ahhhhh, my heart aches for the day that I will finally be able to partake!
    I am so happy you found some that you could consume again – I wouldn’t have even thought about the gluten in the host!

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    • It won’t much longer for you! How exciting!

      Unfortunately, gluten is in everything, but once you learn the ropes it’s not so bad. I am thankful to have an option that works for me!

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    • Yes, it really is! It’s really been a wake up call to me. I should have been this excited to receive Jesus even just in the wine. I’m glad God is using this experience to draw me nearer to Him. God bless!

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    • That’s wonderful! I saw the hosts for the priests on their site. I wonder how common it is for priests to have issues with gluten? My little boy Blaise has pondered being a priest. I’m glad the option is out there!

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      • Our priest is supposed to give up gluten but isn’t ready to switch to the low gluten version. I’ve heard that there is something on the Vatican website that discourages men from entering the seminary if they have celiac, since they have to consume so many hosts over the course of their lives.

        I’m glad you and your son found the low gluten hosts so you can get the body too. It is important to our family too.

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      • Well, I guess that makes sense, although it saddens me. Blaise and I aren’t officially celiac. My doctor wanted me to get the genetic testing done, but it was $400 out of pocket at the time. I didn’t feel the need to confirm that I feel better off wheat, but I guess it would be nice to know if wheat actually causes intestinal damage to me or is more of an intolerance. Thanks for your input, and I am so glad your husband tolerates the low gluten hosts. God bless.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this. My son and I take gluten free communion at our parish. He was diagnosed with celiac through a blood test. Just like you, I went gluten free for a time with him and then went off the bandwagon. I got terribly sick and am now 100% gluten free. I didn’t know you could get your own pyx. We are served by the priest in a pyx that has no lid. He puts the host in there and then returns to the alter to get it when it’s our turn. I know what you mean about awkward moments. You can get a genetic swap test through enterolabs. Last I checked it was about $149.

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    • Thank you for sharing your story! Do you know if you have to have a doctor’s order for the enterolabs genetic test? I am very, very curious to know if what I am dealing with is an intolerance or actual celiac. It really doesn’t officially matter, I guess, because we can’t have gluten. However, it makes me concerned for the rest of my children. I will look into the test. $149 is doable for us right now. Thank you, and God bless!

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  3. Here’s the link to the test. You don’t need a doctor’s order. It’s a kit they mail to your house. It’s not as inclusive as the genetic screens that cost $400 and up. If you call their number you’ll get a better explanation. We used it to test our other children to see if celiac was a possible issue. We’ve got 4 kiddos. Two have the gene and one is positive. https://www.enterolab.com/StaticPages/TestInfo.aspx#gene BTW, love your site! We have so much in common. I went through RCIA too, but I did it in college before I met my hubs.

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    • Thank you! I am pretty new to all this blogging stuff. 🙂 I started googling a little this morning. I wonder if I should just go through LabCorp and pay more to have the more complete test. I think I will call Enterolabs and see how they explain things. I am mostly concerned for my two kiddos recovered from autism. The oldest is completely off the diet, and I try not to worry about his health, but I do. I can’t tell if it is me over worrying or the Holy Spirit. 🙂 Despite taking fish oil, cod liver oil, taking vitamin K, lots of B12 and intrinsic factor, he still has some dry bumps on his upper arms. Probably from gluten. I am not sure I could get him to comply to the diet, but perhaps the genetic test would convince him. Thank you again!

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  4. He’s 11, right? Mine went off his diet about a year ago and lied about it to me. It was a rough 3 months because all his symptoms gradually came back. I was so worried about him and finally confronted him. I said either he was eating gluten and other junk or there was something terribly wrong and I needed to take him back to the specialist for more testing. He came clean about cheating and now he’s very careful about his diet again. I think they go through that at that age. He was diagnosed at 4. His recovery was miraculous, but at an age where he has no memory of his illness. When he was first diagnosed I was so careful, and had so much guilt and anxiety about his condition (neuro tics and digestive everything– they thought he had tourettes). We also had a bad reaction to vaccines that triggered it all, so I had plenty of guilt. But I went to a healing mass a few years ago and really felt the hand of God on me. He wanted me to let it go, and I finally did that day. Part of the job of the mother, I think, is to teach your kids how to self manage their lives. I think diet transgressions are just part of the equation for these kids. Kids are going to make bad choices. Who can blame them? He’ll come around in his own time. Just pray about how to handle it when those pesky symptoms do resurface. Yes, bumps on the arm can mean gluten, but without other more dangerous symptoms he’ll likely not change his diet, especially when you are not watching what he’s eating. At least that was my experience with my son until he got bad enough. Those irritating neuro symptoms he developed last year motivated him enough to stick to his diet again.

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    • I wish we could talk in person! Wow, you know exactly everything I have gone through. Yes, he is 11. He is doing so well. We put him back on the diet for a couple months last year when he began having some anxiety. The diet did not change that, so our chiropractor adjusted his supplements for seratonin and dopamine. As long as he faithfully takes those, he is totally fine. However, he grew an inch overnight it seems when he was back on the diet. He’s a little guy, kinda short and muscular like his daddy. I will just pray. I understand what you mean about needing to let him (and all my kids) manage their lives and learn to make good decisions on their own. I think there is this small part of me way deep down that is so scared it will come back. But truly, he is healed. I don’t spend my life worrying, I really don’t. It’s so nice to find someone who understands. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Truckin’ Right Along… | The Fruitful Mama

  6. Pingback: Lord, Save Me: Picking Up My (Gluten-Free) Cross | The Fruitful Mama

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