Friday, October 3, 2008

Rice Hosts and Communion

Q: My little brother has celiac disease, which will keep him from receiving communion when the time comes. Eating wheat would make him violently sick and could even cause him to die. A host is made of wheat. This disease is a real burden on a Catholic who wants to take the Eucharist. Can he take a rice host?

A: No, he can’t take a rice host. I’m told that back before China made it illegal to believe in God, Chinese Catholics asked if they could have rice hosts because rice is such a large part of their diet and they didn’t grow a lot of wheat, but they were refused because the bread that Jesus broke at the Last Supper was wheat bread.

I can relate to you though because my six-year-old brother also has celiac disease. Your little brother will be able to take the wine, which is just as much a part of the Eucharist as the bread. Although he’ll have to have some of it set aside for him because the priest will put the crumbs from the host into the chalice.

There are some religious sisters who came up with a host that contains 0.01% gluten. Their recipe is approved by the Church to be consecrated, but your parents should talk the matter over with your brother’s doctor first. My parents decided not to let my brother use the new host since he is still growing and even the littlest amount of gluten can damage his intestines, making him vulnerable for more than twenty diseases including lymphoma.