New twist to holy wafer

Our Lady of the Rosary offers low-gluten hosts

A pivotal moment during the celebration of the Catholic Mass occurs during communion, when believers come forward to receive the Body of Christ.

But some members of Our Lady of the Rosary were choosing to stay in their pews, because they have Celiac disease, which means they cannot ingest gluten, a protein found in wheat.

The Rev. Ron Aubin displays a silver ciborium and a gold ciborium. The silver one is used to hold the gluten-free communion hosts, and the gold one holds the traditional hosts. (B.C. Manion/Staff Photo)

The Rev. Ron Aubin displays a silver ciborium and a gold ciborium. The silver one is used to hold the gluten-free communion hosts, and the gold one holds the traditional hosts.
(B.C. Manion/Staff Photo)

“There are different levels of intolerance to gluten and wheat products,” said the Rev. Ron Aubin, pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary Church at 2348 Collier Parkway in Land O’ Lakes. “Apparently, some people react severely and can be quite sick. So, they bypass the host — receiving the Body of Christ.”

When one woman asked if there anything the church could do about it, the church decided to look into the issue.

Church doctrine requires there be at least a trace of gluten, in order to be considered valid matter for the Eucharist, according to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“So, we did a little research and we discovered there are low-gluten hosts,” Aubin said.

The church is now using low-gluten wafers made by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, in Clyde, Missouri. The sisters have been baking communion hosts for generations and spent 10 years working to develop a low-gluten host.

The host the sisters produce contains .01 percent gluten.

Our Lady of the Rosary began serving the hosts about a month ago.

“What we did, was, we have reserved one small part of the church — a small section. We’re calling that our low-gluten section,” Aubin said.

It uses slides on a giant screen to inform those attending its weekend services where to sit if they would like to receive a low-gluten host.

Anyone is welcome to sit in the section, Aubin said, but those sitting there will receive the low-gluten host during communion.

Aubin described what it’s like: “It’s a little smaller and thinner. It basically has no taste.”

“If you object to that,” the pastor said, “Go to the other line.”

The church also is taking care to avoid any cross-contamination when people drink from the chalice during communion.

“To help us not get them confused, we use a silver chalice (for the wine) and a silver ciborium for the low-gluten (hosts),” he said. In other sections, the church uses a gold chalice and gold ciborium.

Some people are now asking if they can have a smaller piece of the low-gluten host, Aubin said.

“The low-gluten hosts don’t break easy. I told the Sacristan to go buy a scissors and designate it for only cutting the low-gluten hosts,” he said.

The church wants to encourage participation in the Eucharist. It also wants to be as accommodating as possible.

“We’re responding,” he said.

Members of the congregation appreciate the effort, he added.

“Several people have come out of their way just to thank me. (They told me) ‘Thank you for considering us.’”

Published January 28, 2015

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