Are Catholics with celiac disease excempt from Lenten fasting and abstinence?


#1

Are Catholics with celiac disease excempt from Lenten fasting and abstinence? Considering all it is is an intolerence to gluten (I know it's serious, but there are plenty of foods containing neither meat nor glueten and why would simply having a food intolerence weaken someone if they are not consuming the food they're intolerent to?)

Please note, I only thought of this in the first place because someone told me people with celiac disease are not obligated to fast or abstain during Lent (and this person is not a priest and is often in error when it comes to these kinds of things.)


#2

They are exempt to the extent that their medical condition and other circumstances require breaking of the rules of fast and abstinence.

As an example - say you are a coeliac who is also a heavy manual labourer and so needs hearty meals to replace the energy you lose.

Let's say that you are also eating lunch on Ash Wednesday in your workplace cafeteria, a cafeteria where the only coeliac-friendly options are steak and green salad.

Now green salad alone might not be a big enough lunch with which to complete a heavy afternoon's manual work.

Under these circumstances, assuming you truly can't make alternative arrangements like eating elsewhere or bringing food from home or anything, you would be ok having the steak as well.


#3

I face a similar problem - on Wednesday I expect to be away from home on business and I have a food allergy that severely limits my choices when eating food in hotel restaurants. If it comes to it I might have to eat meat if there isn’t anything else I can eat.

It doesn’t mean I won’t fast though.

Last year, I abstained from all meat throughout practically all of Lent… I think I can cut myself some slack this year! :slight_smile:


#4

I have encountered many years when fasting on "the right day" just wasn't possible for any number of reasons. In that case, I chose a different day to do my own personal fasting to make up for it.


#5

[quote="ChibiViolet, post:1, topic:314471"]
Are Catholics with celiac disease excempt from Lenten fasting and abstinence? Considering all it is is an intolerence to gluten (I know it's serious, but there are plenty of foods containing neither meat nor glueten and why would simply having a food intolerence weaken someone if they are not consuming the food they're intolerent to?)

Please note, I only thought of this in the first place because someone told me people with celiac disease are not obligated to fast or abstain during Lent (and this person is not a priest and is often in error when it comes to these kinds of things.)

[/quote]

I have fasted/abstained regardless of Celiac.

Now, I don't fast to the extent that I should, but that is because I tend to pass out if I don't eat. :o But that started more than 15 years before I was diagnosed Celiac.

So what do I do if I won't have an option of a meatless meal? I pack one. Yep, I have taken food on a plane, into hotels and almost anywhere I can think of. It takes planning and work. And this is part of the reason that I really, really, don't want to see meatless Fridays come back full time to the US.


#6

If they believe their health will be in danger, then they should not do so. I am sure the same applies for other health conditions and a doctor should be asked first then speak to your priest afterword.

My aunt is a Celiac, and she does observe some fasting and abstience regardless of her condition but I am sure her doctor tells her what extent she is allowed to do so.


#7

[quote="DexUK, post:3, topic:314471"]
I face a similar problem - on Wednesday I expect to be away from home on business and I have a food allergy that severely limits my choices when eating food in hotel restaurants. If it comes to it I might have to eat meat if there isn't anything else I can eat.

It doesn't mean I won't fast though.

Last year, I abstained from all meat throughout practically all of Lent... I think I can cut myself some slack this year! :)

[/quote]

Please consider whether you have any other options available, such as packing food to take with you or something.


#8

ChibiViolet - the person who told you that celiac disease exempts you from fasting & abstinence was wrong. Since the only foods you can't eat are the ones with gluten - which is mostly baked goods, fast foods & convenience foods - you get to have the joy of fasting & abstinence!

I'm diabetic & am on a very low-carb diet - which is working very well for me. I used to fast as I had been taught in the Protestant church - no food & nothing but water to drink. But now I can't do that & must use the Catholic "lite" fast - 1 full meal & 2 1/2-size meals - tho I'll probably need a little extra in the evening. Or stretch it out to 4 1/2-size meals. And keep checking my blood glucose.:(

My Fridays are like regular days, but eggs replace meat.


#9

[quote="Bonnie, post:8, topic:314471"]
ChibiViolet - the person who told you that celiac disease exempts you from fasting & abstinence was wrong. Since the only foods you can't eat are the ones with gluten - which is mostly baked goods, fast foods & convenience foods - you get to have the joy of fasting & abstinence!

I'm diabetic & am on a very low-carb diet - which is working very well for me. I used to fast as I had been taught in the Protestant church - no food & nothing but water to drink. But now I can't do that & must use the Catholic "lite" fast - 1 full meal & 2 1/2-size meals - tho I'll probably need a little extra in the evening. Or stretch it out to 4 1/2-size meals. And keep checking my blood glucose.:(

My Fridays are like regular days, but eggs replace meat.

[/quote]

Thank you! I figured as much. (I wasn't asking on account of myself just so you know, but a friend who is currently in RCIA.)


#10

[quote="LilyM, post:7, topic:314471"]
Please consider whether you have any other options available, such as packing food to take with you or something.

[/quote]

Yes, I'm definitely going to pack meals I can take with me on a three day business trip that aren't going to spoil... :shrug:

As it happens, my trip has been postponed until Thursday because of a winter storm so there hasn't been a problem with my Ash Wednesday observance, but when you have food allergies and you have to work AND drive 400 miles in one day, fasting and abstinence take a back seat to whatever food is available that can be eaten. But also the Church is ok with that, since there is a medical need. Had the situation arisen, I would have been able to take the opportunity to use the 6 hour journey to pray instead. I have to wonder which God values more... the use of many hours meditating on the spiritual nature of Lent or the fasting and abstinence because it's a rule the Church made...


#11

[quote="DexUK, post:10, topic:314471"]
Yes, I'm definitely going to pack meals I can take with me on a three day business trip that aren't going to spoil... :shrug:

As it happens, my trip has been postponed until Thursday because of a winter storm so there hasn't been a problem with my Ash Wednesday observance, but when you have food allergies and you have to work AND drive 400 miles in one day, fasting and abstinence take a back seat to whatever food is available that can be eaten. But also the Church is ok with that, since there is a medical need. Had the situation arisen, I would have been able to take the opportunity to use the 6 hour journey to pray instead. I have to wonder which God values more... the use of many hours meditating on the spiritual nature of Lent or the fasting and abstinence because it's a rule the Church made...

[/quote]

My family and I used to drive for two days every summer to get to our summer holiday spot and two days every summer to get back home. We took non-perishable food with us and had ample opportunity along the way to buy any perishables that we needed.

That was 20-some years ago, mind you. These days it would be heaps easier. Lots of supermarkets stock a surprising range of vegetarian food that is also suitable for sufferers of at least the common allergies (gluten and dairy for example).

Now I fully realise that your dietary needs may be far less easy to cater for. But as someone who has relatives with lots of unusual dietary requirements am scratching my head to figure where you might be going that you could not access (even somewhere along the way) shops that at least have better options than a restaurant?

I'm not trying to sound accusatory, simply curious. By the way, those rules are important. They are how we put Jesus' commandment to fast (He said 'when you fast', not if) into practice. He gave the Church His very own authority in regard setting such rules, so they are not insignificant by any means.


#12

[quote="DexUK, post:10, topic:314471"]
I have to wonder which God values more... the use of many hours meditating on the spiritual nature of Lent or the fasting and abstinence because it's a rule the Church made...

[/quote]

Fasting isn't something the Church invented. Lent is about Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Taken right from the Gospel reading last night.


#13

Ok, maybe I didn't make myself sufficiently clear.

Perhaps I should have concentrated on the abstinence rather than the fasting (most people can fast, whether or not they have allergies).

As for non-perishables... for me these would be severely limited in scope because the thing I'm allergic to is an ingredient which is in almost all pre-prepared foods that aren't sweet (and I don't want to live off candy, not least because of the dental bills involved and certainly not in Lent!). Basically, if I want to eat, I have to buy raw ingredients and make it myself or be very very restricted about food that's available off a menu. When working away from home, self-catering facilities are generally unavailable for short-notice and short-term trips (I'd have to hire a holiday cottage which would likely be a long way from where I needed to be and at vast expense which is money I simply don't have).

As for going and foraging for myself on a day of abstinence - that simply isn't possible after a 400 mile drive, plus a days work while fatigued at the end of the day and staying in a cheap hotel in a strange town. I eat what I can realistically get that won't make me ill. If that means I have to eat something that's on the Church's list that they expect people to abstain from, then so be it. Medical need comes first.

I find that people on this forum are frequently so unbending that they expect people to work miracles to achieve the exhortations of the Church's disciplines and that they're far more strict than how any priest has ever expressed things to me. Yes, there are rules. Yes, they are there to focus the mind on the reasons why the rules were made in the first place. But also the Church does allow for more discretion and living by the spirit of the rules rather than the letter of them if to follow them exactly causes unnecessary or undue hardship or illness. We need to be less legalistic and more spiritual.

In situations such as mine I can, if needs be, substitute abstinence with an equivalently worthwhile observance of piety. In fact, I don't even need to do that. I can simply forgo the abstinence because that's allowed by Holy Mother Church in cases of medical need, but I like to live by the spirit of the rules even if I can't live by the letter.


#14

Have you discussed this with your priest?


#15

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