A reader asks about Eucharistic gluten and celiac sufferers

A reader writes:

Could you address the recent increase in gluten free hosts for those who are “gluten sensitive” or have celiac.

If we truly believe the host is transformed into the body of Christ how could we then believe that the gluten could ever harm us?

The woman who touched the hem or tassel of Jesus’ was cured however, if she had stopped and looked closely at how dirty it was from scraping the ground she may have not touched it believing that something so unclean would have made her more sick.   Her unbelief would have prevented her from being cured.

The accidents of bread and wine remain.  This means that all the effects bread and wine have on the human body will continue.  It will taste, look, smell, and feel like bread and wine, and the  physical effects on the rest of the body will be the same, including on the intestinal tract or the brain.  So the Precious Blood will, if drunk in sufficient quantity, make us feel the buzz that alcoholic wine causes (I have a friend, a non-drinker, who had exactly this happen in her first year or so as a Catholic, and she deeply believes in the Real Presence).  And the bread will have all the effects bread has on the body, including the body sensitive to gluten.  Blaming people who suffer these effects for lack of faith is simply adding insult to injury.

That said, the Church is not free to change the matter of the sacrament, so gluten-free Hosts are not valid matter and cannot be used.  But since Christ is fully present under both species of the Eucharist, those who suffer from celiac disease can still receive the Precious Blood.


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