Celiac disease

I mentioned in my introduction that I am suddenly filled with some doubts, and Im beginning to struggle with depression. I am a relatively new Catholic convert, and it hasn’t been an easy transition…and last week I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, which means I should go 100% gluten free, 100% of the time. Please don’t anyone tell me about the low gluten Hosts, I know about that. Ive read what the Vatican & the US bishops say, and Im very grateful that The Church provides a solution…wine only.
But Im struggling with that and am asking for prayers, and perspectives to help me sort through these issues. One person said “Jesus won’t let me get sick through receiving the Host”. And I understand that…why would God allow me a condition that now means receiving the Host would be literally a toxin for me…that seems so absurd. So, one question is, does not receiving the host mean Im guilty of lack of faith? I read in another thread that no one has ever gotten sick from receiving the Host and wine from the cup…to be brutally honest I would challenge that faith and say would you drink from the same cup that someone has drunk from who has Ebola? Is that faith? Or stupidity? Its unprovable either way…the incubation periods of some disease are so long that its impossible to say if someone got sick they picked it up from an infected cup.
I never knew I had the disease, so unlike others who would immediately get sick by taking even a crumb of gluten, I doubt I would even notice. But as someone else said, poison is poison, and is ANY drop acceptable? Celiac disease wreaks havoc internally and I have had some serious illnesses, that now may be complications from being undiagnosed for so long.
So the solution is wine only…which I then have to arrange with my Priest, and perhaps even have to have my own chalice. I have spoken with a Priest from a different Parish who himself has Celiac disease, and he points out I would need to go u 1st to ensure no cross contamination. And this is where I struggle…I am grateful the Church not only allows but mandates that I must be able to receive wine only, but on a practical level, I don’t want to be singled out. I don’t want to have to have the special treatment this requires. So a big part of me says I should ignore it, and just take the host anyway, and trust in God that it won’t harm me…but another part of me says I am being prideful, that my desire not to have to be the 1st, or obviously taking from a separate chalice is merely pride. Today was the 1st time I was at Mass without partaking, and it feels very awkward as it is allowing everyone else to file by and not receiving. Ive only been to a couple of churches, but the wine is not offered to the laity at mine. Because I work on weekends I attend a 0630mass most frequently, and thats only with about 20-30 others. So having special treatment there would be obvious to all. The whole thing just makes me feel really bad…Im a nurse. I dod what I do believing that the Lord will protect me. But would I go into a room with a patient with ebola, or flu or whatever without a mask?
Im asking for peoples thoughts, and prayers. I feel so bad that I haven’t received Christ for a week now, and am struggling with how to proceed. Thanks.


I was diagnosed with celiac disease over 20 years ago. Perhaps I can help you by sharing some of the insights I’ve obtained, through the grace of God, over these past years. The congregation isn’t paying any attention to you! Each person is preparing to receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ- and should be focusing on that- not on YOU! Therefore, unless you purposely bring attention to yourself, you are pretty much “under the radar” and can receive in a way that won’t cause harm. I’ve lived in 4 parishes since my diagnosis, and have worked with the priest to insure that I receive Christ safely and unobtrusively. In one parish, I received from the cup only- and first. This was simple, as I sat in a location closest to where the cup minister stood, and went directly to the cup, bypassing the Host minister. No one seemed to even notice- although I felt that they would because it was so different and strange for me! But they didn’t… In my next parish, I served as an EMHC- which meant I received on the altar!!! The priest would give each of us a Host- so he would pause in front of each minister while serving it. When he came to me, he simply paused, then moved on. To any observer, it appeared that he gave me a Host, so it was not noticeable. I would then receive from the cup only. Currently, my parish has the low gluten Host- which has such a minuscule amount of gluten that most Celiacs can receive it. Our priest places it in its own pyx, so it is consecrated separately. He places the pyx in the paten, and simply serves it when I approach- or if I’m on the altar, he serves it the same way. I honestly don’t think anyone has ever even seen him do this. I have very severe celiac, and am frequently hospitalized, so I’m very careful. There is always a way to receive, so speak with your priest and work out the way that’s best for you. I’m happy to help further- just PM me. Oh, and when I asked a priest if I was lacking in faith by not trusting Jesus in the Host to cause no harm- he answered that I was being prudent, not faithless. He compared it to a person bypassing the cup when they knew they had a contagious disease. He said that God certainly understands that we are doing our best to receive him and to stay safe. I hope this helps. I know how it feels to be newly diagnosed with celiac and will keep you in my prayers.

Hi Felix and welcome.

I think marbleartist gave you some great insight.

I think you have gotten yourself tied up in knots over a situation that is easy addressed.
You and your priest can work out a solution that works, so relax, and let God undue those knots. :slight_smile:

God bless you, yes! This is how it is handled in my parish as well.
Wonderful post, thank you!

A couple of things.

What is it, do you suppose, about bread that is harmful to you and triggers your celiac – Its substance? Or its accidents?

Our Lord is Really Present in the species of bread. But gluten is not bread, it is a component of bread. The Church teaches that the Real Presence persists as long as the species are recognizable as bread and wine. When a gluten molecule is broken out by digestion, it is no longer recognizable as bread, and no longer bears the Real Presence of the Lord – It’s just gluten. And gluten is harmful to you.

Finally, I am dubious of the generalization that no one has ever gotten sick from receiving the Host and wine from the cup – How could anyone possibly know that?

:twocents: It is not at all a demonstration of lax faith to forgo the host. :twocents:


Thanks for the responses.


I too have celiac. I have heard of cases where individuals purchased their own gluten free hosts which the priest consecrates either separately or even they bring it up and he consecrates right there in the individual’s hand. This isn’t a new subject therefore I recommend that you read other threads on this topic because it comes up every now and then. Unfortunately some hosts do contain gluten therefore it really depends on your sensitivity. Even some of the so called “low gluten” hosts can cause someone’s celiac’s disease to flair up therefore your first step is to ask your doctor to find out how much gluten your body can tolerate.

Secondly, this disease is not unique to only Catholicism but to Christianity in general because Christ broke the bread which although the ritual is different, most Christian denominations have communion with some form of bread which contains wheat. You aren’t alone in this quest.

Once you have your information regarding how much gluten you are allowed to ingest, then I would speak with your priest and see what is possible. This is important because not all parishes I have attended even offer wine anymore. I don’t know the reasons but they don’t therefore here is an opportunity to learn.

In addition, there are many gluten free groups on Facebook. I suggest that you ask your question there as well because it is a very common problem among Christians in general. Perhaps some individuals can provide some extra help on this. Since you are newly diagnosed, they can be great places to ask other questions regarding the disease.

As for the general rule of having wine from a shared cup, for me personally, due to safety concerns, I avoid the wine because God knows what the person is carrying. I don’t believe in sharing the wine from the same cup. Hang in there. If you have questions, please send me a line.


Fortunately, Celiac disease is a disease which can be managed by diet. Yay! I have Celiac, and I can tell you that it is much easier to manage in the US in Europe, than where I am now in Africa. But it is manageable. It is important that you don’t eat gluten, as even if you seem to be asymptomatic, gluten will damage your body in a number of ways.

The only advice I can offer about the host and communions, is that I was asked once to give advance notice to the celebrants, so that they can be prepared during communion.

If you have any questions about Celiac, and how to manage it in general, feel free to contact me.

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