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.
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.
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?
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