Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #15: Gluten Free Catholic Edition

I didn't plan to have the last two WILW posts to be themed but that is life for you. ;)

Since yesterday's doctor appointment ended with my doctor telling me that I should avoid eating wheat, I thought about what this meant to me since I love to receive the Eucharist as frequently as possible. I love daily Mass and receiving the Eucharist is the cherry on top of that dairy-free sundae. Because we don't know whether it's a wheat allergy or if I have Celiac Disease (yes, there's a difference between the two), we don't know whether I can receive the low-gluten hosts and/or just the altar wine.

Oh, side note, a little background on my situation: I've been eating foods made out of mostly brown rice flour and cereal that's gluten free for the past couple of months because I wanted to see if it was the reason why my stomach problems going haywire. The only wheat I allowed in my system was in the Eucharist. I had no problem with the hosts and I was (have been) on the mend. A week before my doctor appointment, I reintroduced wheat into my system in the form of Bisquick pancake mix. Stomach problems started the first day. Anxiety, headaches, "brain fog", and extreme fatigue shortly followed (all of these, btw, point to Celiac disease). Anxiety also has the same symptoms so I don't know if it's one or the other. I haven't had wheat since Monday morning (last trip to Disneyland) and I haven't felt as exhausted as I did last week. So it may be or may not. My county health insurance doesn't cover the blood tests to determine anything, nor can I afford to pay for it out of pocket, so we're just winging it at the moment.

Since I forgot to ask my doctor whether I could try the low-gluten hosts at yesterday's appointment (remember, I had no reaction with the host on its own) and have to wait until tomorrow to call and ask, here are some of the options I have found for fellow gluten-free Catholics.

1. Gluten free hosts are invalid but low-gluten hosts are allowed. I'm very much a "by the rules" kind of gal. If it's illegal, I don't do it. No, not even jaywalking. If something's against Church teachings or against what the Vatican (i.e. CDF) says, I avoid it. So, of course, when this issue came up, I looked into it. The USCCB clearly states that the hosts must have some wheat in order for it to be valid. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (back when he was Prefect of the CDF) said it himself. Low-gluten alternatives are available (and they thankfully also list places you can order them from) and I could easily pay for those out of my own pocket as they are inexpensive (and worth it even if they were costly).

2. If you can't have any gluten at all, you can still receive the graces by taking the Precious Blood only. As I inquired (via Twitter this morning) what some Celiac Catholics did, I learnt that some drink the wine from a separate chalice. I've personally had the wine only a handful of times since my first communion because the doctor has me avoiding alcohol due to my anxiety. However, if I have to be 100% gluten-free, I am going to have make special arrangements. I don't know if they have any Celiac Catholics at my parish so I don't know if there is already a separate chalice for them or if one will have to be purchased... which I will, again, do out of my own pocket. I don't believe in burdening the parish with additional costs because of something that is my own problem so I'm going to have to save up or even take donations if it takes too long (which, if you know me, you know will be hard for me as I was brought up to earn things by my own hard work and not to take advantage of anyone's generosity). I already looked at the prices at Cotters (local supplier to parishes; I could live in this store) and it's going to be a dent in my wallet.

3. If for some reason you can't have low gluten hosts OR even the smallest amount of the wine, the only option left is to receive spiritual communion. This is the option that I am dreading the most because it won't be the same. I actually feel like tearing up thinking that this may be my only option. I will not get ahead of myself though. And, if it is the only option, I pray to God that I will grow more in my spirituality and grow closer to Him despite my not being able to physically receive Him. If this is what I must do, I must learn to change how I do things while still strengthening my own faith.

Like I said, I am not going to get ahead of myself but I am looking at my options. I pray that the Holy Spirit helps my doctor come up with the best decision for me and my health. I think I'm going to do the 9-Hour Novena to the Infant of Prague as well. We'll see how it all goes.

If you know anyone who has a wheat allergy or cannot have gluten (or, at least, think that it may be the cause of their health problems), please pass this along. I am sure I will write more about the topic later on.

Anyway, I have to go pick up my mom from work (please pray for her - she's been having problems with her right foot for months now and she's on her feet all 8 hours).

I hope you're all having a great week thus far. If you have any prayer requests, please send them by way. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless! :D


Sophie Miriam said...

I feel you. I have recently switched to eating gluten free. I still receive the Host. I can't figure out what else to do. I'm in Germany for the next three months, and without a parish or a regular schedule, I do a lot of Mass hopping. They don't usually offer the chalice at all in Germany, and I can't really arrange for me to receive from the chalice without a regular Mass schedule.

When I get home, I am going to talk to my pastor of my home church about just receiving from the chalice. I believe I am gluten intolerant and don't have celiac disease, so (if I am understanding this correctly) receiving the Host does not damage me long-term, just leads to sub-optimal health.

Tiffany said...

Praying Emmy! Very interesting post, and I am so hopeful that you'll be able to still physically receive.

~Katherine~ said...

At my former parish, there was a family with a parent and a couple of kids who couldn't have gluten. The father dealt with it by giving the priests a heads-up by about 20 minutes before a Mass that the family would be there, and the priest would consecrate a separate and very small (think egg cup size) chalice of Precious Blood. To make it simpler for the priest, the family would go up to receive Communion after everyone else had done so. The fact that the little chalice was entirely separate kept it from being contaminated with wheat when the priest breaks off a particle of the Host and drops It into the main chalice.

Of course, since you mention that you don't seem to have bad after-effects from just receiving the host, this all may be a moot point, but I thought it might be helpful. :)