Take this, and eat it, in remembrance of Me

I saw this expression of dogma in the paper this morning, but it cleared the buffer before I made it back to my desk. Thanks for the reminder, Eric.

BRIELLE, New Jersey (AP) — An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot eat wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained no wheat, violating Roman Catholic doctrine.

Wheat is a special grain, with deeper significance than most people realize. Though rice has played just as great a role in the Orient, wheat is the staple of the Eurasian diet.

Or as the Vatican puts it in Redemptionis Sacramentum

[48.] The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.[123] It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.

It is possible to contest this within the Church, and to introduce an exception to the Canon, or revise the requirements for the host, or one could do as another family did.

In 2001, the family of a 5-year-old Massachusetts girl with the disease left the Catholic church after being denied permission to use a rice wafer. [emphasis mine]

If the Church will deny your participation in its most precious sacrament, why should you stay? Or, perhaps more to the point, what kind of God would care?

3 thoughts on “Take this, and eat it, in remembrance of Me

  1. The Church is NOT denying this girl the opportunity to participate in the sacrement. She can partake of the wine, which is enough to consider the sacrement fully received.

    Quoting US Council of Bishops ( http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/innews/1103.htm ):

    “As a final note, it is important to recall that through the doctrine of concomitance the Church teaches that under either species of bread or wine, the whole of Christ is received (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no.282; Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.1390; Council of Trent, session 21, Doctrina de communione sub utraque specie et parvulorum, 16 July 1562, chapters 1-3: Denzinger –Schonmetzer, 1725-1729). In view of this important belief, the faithful may be encouraged to approach their pastors, seeking the special permissions required for Holy Communion under the species of wine alone, or by the use of either mustum or low-gluten hosts, and to be confident in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist they receive.”

    Also note that extremely low-guten hosts are permitted, and the “There is simply no scientific evidence that [zero tolerance] is required (at least there is no concordant view among scientists about the maximum tolerable gluten intake).” ( http://www.celiac.com/st_prod.html?p_prodid=400 )

  2. Good point. Perhaps the Church is not adequately explaining that either species is adequate, though I think convention aggravates that: it is not common to take wine at Communion. The congregant may feel less comfortable with the wine, though that is not reason enough to make her daughter feel uncomfortable with it. Again, the priest should be able to address her concerns. It could be that her parish has incapable priests.

    Then again, I’m from the Presbyterian tradition, where salt-rising bread and grape juice is perfectly adequate.

    When does trans-substantiation occur? Does it require a pure host? Or will anything do in a pinch?

  3. Transubstantiation occurs during the Liturgy of the Eucharist; the priest will raise the host up and recite Jesus’s words from the last supper, “do this in memory of me.” This is repeated with the wine. Traditionally, the altar boys will ring bells during the mass at the moment when this occurs, but most churches don’t do this any more. Consecrated hosts are often kept in the tabernacle for emergency use (such as administering communion along with last rites to one on his death bed) or for lay people to take to homebound parishoners, so the consecration does not always occur immediately before the sacrement is received.

    I don’t know if there are exceptions to the rules of what can be used in emergency situations. The last question on this page ( http://www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/May1996/Wiseman.asp ) lists some of the requirements for matter to be consecrated, and addresses both grape juice and low-gluten hosts.

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