Grace without receiving the Eucharist

I know that it is good, and advisable, to partake of the Eucharist frequently, if not daily. My question is, how long can one go without receiving the Eucharist under either Specie without falling from Grace?

I’m a practicing Catholic and I also have celiac disease, which means that if I ingest something containing gluten (for example, the wheat in the bread which is consecrated into the Body of Christ) I’m violently ill for the next day or two, missing work and not helping out with family needs. So for the three years since my diagnosis I partake of the Most Precious Blood only.

At this time of year, with the flu season abounding, our parish tends not to make the Cup available, partly because no one takes of it when everyone else is coughing and sneezing. On those days, I walk up behind my wife, bow alongside her to reverence the Body, and walk back to our pew, saying an Act of Spiritual Communion. It’s unpredictable when we’ll see the Cup, or - because we have small kids and tend to sit in the back - if there will be any left for me by the time we get up there. There have been a number of times when I see the Extraordinary Minister or Deacon cover the Cup with her or his hand and I wonder if the Spirit is telling me that I have an unconfessed sin.

More broadly, I wonder about Catholics who desire, but aren’t able, to receive the Eucharist for other reasons - they travel or live far from a Catholic Church, or are homebound. The Act of Spiritual Communion is intended for a single Mass, but is there perhaps a greater devotion that one can participate in, even away from the Adoration Chapel, that worships Christ in the Eucharist imparting Grace in a sufficiently similar way?

I know those suffering with celiac that get a special dispensation on receiving a gluten free host. They have a special host for her at each mass she attends. You should consult your priest about this viability, or at least request that he always prepare a small portion of wine for you each time.

They do make gluten free hosts that can (and will!) be consecrated for your needs during the Mass. Talk to your priest! You don’t have to avoid receiving our Lord!! :):):slight_smile:

Yes, a gluten-free host may help in your situation–as suggested by others, speak to your pastor.

To answer the original question, “how long can one go without receiving the Eucharist under either Specie without falling from Grace?”

Catholics are required to attend Mass and receive communion once each year, between Ash Wednesday and Pentecost, the “Easter Duty.” This duty is fulfilled by receiving either the Body or the Blood or both–since (as Trent defined) the fullness of Christ is present in each of the species. So, in receiving the Blood from the cup you are partaking in communion. (We are also required to attend Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, but not necessarily to receive Communion.) The short answer, then, is you can go about a year without receiving the Eucharist and still keep the precepts of the Church.

Still, it may help when you speak of your situation to the Pastor about the gluten-free host, to also explain your difficulties in flu season when the Sacred Blood is not offered thereby making you miss communion.

First, Catholics aren’t to use “gluten free” hosts. The host must be only wheat and water. So using gluten free hosts would not be valid.

BUT there are extremely “low gluten” hosts that are available to Catholics. You can speak to your pastor about them.

If these work for you, great. I receive them, and have for 6 years. The smallest cross contamination seems to effect me in a big way. But these hosts do not.

If these won’t work for you, you may want to sit closer to the front. That way your young children can see what is going on up front AND you will be able to receive from the cup. If sitting up front isn’t possible, talk to your pastor about making sure you can receive from the cup regardless of where you sit.

While it is recommended strongly that we receive regularly it is only an obligation to receive once a year during the Easter period.
For those who are unable to consume the Host is it not possible to receive from the Chalice?

In my personal opinion I don’t think travelling is an excuse to miss receiving Communion during the Easter period as this extends for several weeks.
Likewise, living far from a Catholic Church I don’t think it is too much to expect a person to make an effort once a year to receive Communion.
The homebound can ask to have a priest or EMHC to come to their home so they may receive Communion at home.

The host must have some gluten according to the Catholic Church. Here is an article from EWTN that talks about the necessity of the Eucharist being made of “bread”. However, there is hope for many who have Celiac disease. There has been a “very low gluten” communion wafer created with .01% gluten. If you do not have a severe case of Celiac, you may be able to receive these without problem. Additionally, I would also speak to the pastor about continuing to offer the Cup during flu season, unless the CDC has asked them not to. Just explain the reason, and they may accommodate you (likewise if you feel you can try the low gluten wafers, ask your pastor to order them). Regarding the reception of the Precious Blood, I would suggest you change your seat to a front row so that you can be sure to receive. I know lots of people with small children who sit up front but makes sure they have seats on the end of the pew-- they go out one of the side doors if one of them needs to. Perhaps your Church isn’t ideal for that, but just something for you to consider.(Also, does your Church offer nursery care during Mass? Some do, some don’t)

Since you mentioned it, if the minister places their hand over the cup, it does NOT mean you have an unconfessed sin. They have no authority to judge that issue. It generally means that the contents have been fully consumed. Some people continue to stand in their position because they don’t want to cause problems with the line. Other ministers will just leave once the cup has been consumed.

I must add that God Himself is not bound to the Sacraments (CCC 1257)- He may work outside of the Sacraments in whatever way He wills. If He has permitted you to have this condition, He will most certainly grant grace if you make an act of spiritual communion. You may not be the same grace as everyone else receives— it may be an even greater grace. You have been permitted to have a physical limitation to receiving the Lord in the usual way, yet you are still seeking Him with your whole heart. I believe that is extremely important to the Lord.

I hope you are able to receive the low gluten Host, but if not, do not worry. The Lord will meet those who seek Him.

Thanks kindly for your responses. I’m familiar with the low-gluten hosts and, after discussing with my wife, we decided we should commit to attending a regular mass time before asking our pastor. We often attend three different mass times over the course of a month - perhaps a Saturday evening at her parents’ parish, 10 a.m. at our own and 9 a.m. at the one down the street. Our schedule depends much on how our children are feeling and whether we can get them out of the house on-time for 9 a.m. without them screaming their heads off.

I do very much appreciate this insight from Prayer_Warrior:

The ordinary means by which we, as fully-initiated adults in the Catholic Faith, receive Grace is through the Eucharist. That is my intention behind asking how long one can go without receiving it. Prayer_Warrior’s answer gives me cause to reflect upon the other ways in which He sustains me, and perhaps places in my life into which I should invite Him that I have not.

the host must have at-least some gluten in it or it would be invalid but they do have gluten limited hosts.

also you can just receive the receive the precious blood you are not required to receive the body. I have never seen someone do it but you could easily pass over the Body of Christ line and just receive the precious blood.

Jesus is in both fully.

I often do this, because one must pass the Body to receive the Blood. The best way I’ve thought of is to stand next to whomever is ahead of me, reverence the Body quickly (something we do often in St. Louis, but not everywhere, which means I sometimes have to curtsy and get out of the way) and keep moving to the Blood. Or just go back to my pew. This confused the heck out of my oldest until she saw me do it a few times.

I know at our parish there is a person who also has this problem. However instead of using a low gluten host, the priest will just break of a very small piece for him and he has no problems with it. Depending on the severity of your reaction, this could be another simple solution.

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