20 August 2018

Commnunion from the Chalice

I recently had occasion to visit the question of administering the Chalice (within the Extraordnary Form) to a communicant with gluten intolerance. I gather that low-gluten hosts are available and are valid matter, but that hosts without any gluten are regarded as not valid matter. If anyone has (not guesses and fluent woffle but) precise information better than mine, I would be glad to have it.

In any case, the pastoral situation did not afford the leisure to go into this question. I tried the Anglican practice of giving communion from the chalice after communicating myself from the chalice, and holding the Chalice tightly as I did so; the problem here was that the level of the Precious Blood in the Chalice was so low that I was unable to judge visually whether the Lord's Blood had reached the lips of the communicant. The second day, the lady wore gloves and I committed the Chalice entirely into her hands.

I recall seeing a video of a FSSP High Mass at Hanceville in which a small ancillary Chalice was consecrated and, I hypothesise, administered to one of the sisters at the grille.

Of course, for a communicant whose gluten intolerance is total it would be dangerous to communicate them from a chalice in which a fragment of the Host had rested, or over which the celebrant had rubbed his fingers so as to dislodge fragments adhering to them.

I am interested in (1) any relevant dicasterial instructions which may have been issued; and (2) any guidance with regard to practicalities which another presbyter who has faced this situation might be able to provide.


PG said...


A Circular Letter from the Congregation of Divine Worship

Joshua said...

Once when serving a private Low Mass I was very surprised to be presented with the chalice - the priest afterwards explained that he felt it appropriate given that in the OF it is commonly done. I forbear to pass judgement on his decision; thanks to it, I find myself in a rather exclusive club of laymen who have thus received sub utraque specie, among them kings at their coronations!

The Moderate Jacobite said...

With regard to your first question.

In 2017 the C.D.W. issued a circular letter to Bishops on the bread and wine to be used (Latin: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20170615_lettera-su-pane-vino-eucaristia_la.html English:http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20170615_lettera-su-pane-vino-eucaristia_en.html). This refers back to a previous letter from the C.D.F. to Presidents of Episcopal Conferences on the subject of of low-gluten bread and mustum English: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030724_pane-senza-glutine_en.html (I fear that the Latin is not on their web-site).

This confirms your suspicion that gluten-free 'bread' is not valid matter.

There is quite a sensible document from the English Bishops' Conference on the matter too: http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resources/Documents/Coeliacs/Coeliac-Leaflet.pdf

It is worth noting that some hosts are advertised as 'gluten-free' but contain tiny quantities of gluten; this means that they would be valid matter, but that they would be unsuitable for some people to receive.

A second, and more than a little bit interesting, point is raised by the C.D.F. letter - this provides that a priest who is unable to consume low-gluten hosts may be given permission whilst concelebrating Mass to receive under one kind.

With regard to the second. I would note that the detailed practices outlines of seeking the permission of the Ordinary for a lay-person to receive a low-gluten host are widely ignored. I have heard of (though have not personally witnessed) cases in the E.F. where a second chalice is consecrated for the purposes of giving Communion to a person unable to receive the form of bread.

Aaron Sanders said...

The Vatican's most recent letter regarding low-gluten Communion may be found here, conveniently linked to the more foundational 2003 letter whose provisions it reiterates.

Randolph Crane said...

About gluten free hosts:

Hosts "without gluten" do exist, but they still have up to 20 ppm of gluten.

On June 15, 2017, the SRC issued a circular letter addressing some points of the use of "gluten free" hosts.

It says:

"Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.

Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.

The Ordinary is competent to give permission for an individual priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum for the celebration of the Eucharist. Permission can be granted habitually, for as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of permission.

The same Congregation also decided that Eucharistic matter made with genetically modified organisms can be considered valid matter."

LINK: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20170615_lettera-su-pane-vino-eucaristia_en.html

Christophorus said...

In our EF Mass we have both communicants who can not eat any gluten and others who can tolerate some. At the suggestion of the US FSSP - we have a second chalice with about 2 tablespoons of wine which the priest consecrates and give out after everyone else communicates.
In addition, Father has acquired what looks like a 10 host pyx with a hook on the side (about 1" wide and 1/2" high) for the low-gluten hosts. The lid is removable and it hooks on the edge of the ciborium.

Titus said...

Father, I researched this question a few years ago. There isn't a dicasterial instruction that is technically incorporated into the E.F. because understanding of celiac disease did not become sufficiently widespread to garner a response from Rome before 1962.

There was mention of the topic in a 1967 Sacred Congregation of Rites document, Eucharisticum Mysterium.

I wrote about the topic and what I was able to find here: https://wordpress.com/post/nashvilletlm.wordpress.com/783

I understand from subsequent conversations that the FSSP communicates gluten-intolerant congregants from a chalice during Mass.

Jhayes said...

The USCCB has quite a lot of material on communion for persons with disabilities, including gluten intolerance.

They discuss the issue of cross-contamination here


A search on "usccb gluten" will turn up others.

Romulus said...

Father, a gluten-intolerant person who attends the TLM in our parish routinely receives in the form of a low-gluten Host (purchased by the parish in small quantities for her use). It is consecrated by itself, in a miniature ciborium, alongside other ciboria with conventional hosts at the same mass. When this communicant comes to the altar rail, the priest or deacon fetches the reserved ciborium from its waiting-place on the corporal.

A side note: it appears to be documented fact that while gluten aversion is something of a fad among those eager to surf every passing wave, the incidence of genuine medical intolerance has increased substantially in the past 60 years, for reasons not understood (as evidenced by a collection of blood serum samples drawn from US Air Force members drawn many decades ago). St. Paul writes of some who, having received the Sacrament unworthily, have fallen sick. Notwithstanding the injustice and uncharity of imputing Eucharistic impiety to the gluten-intolerant as a class, may one wonder what is going on, that the accidents of the Sacrament are increasing incapable of being received without harm?

GOR said...

Father, excerpt from a letter of Cdl. Ratzinger in 2003 which references previous statements on the invalidity of gluten-free hosts:

24 July 2003

89/78 – 17498

To their Eminences / Excellencies
The Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences

Your Eminence / Excellency:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been for many years studying how to resolve the difficulties that some of the faithful encounter in receiving Holy Communion when for various serious reasons they are unable to consume normal bread or wine.

A number of documents on this question have been issued in the past in the interest of offering Pastors uniform and sure direction (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Rescriptum, 15 December 1980, in Leges Ecclesiae, 6/4819, 8095-8096; De celebrantis communione, 29 October 1982, in AAS 74, 1982, 1298-1299; Lettera ai Presidenti delle Conferenze Episcopali, 19 June 1995, in Notitiae 31, 1995, 608-610).

In light of the experience of recent years, it has been deemed necessary at this time to return to the topic, taking up the above-mentioned documents and clarifying them wherever necessary.

A. The use of gluten-free hosts and mustum

1. Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.

2. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.

3. Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.

In some parishes to cater to people with celiac disease a second chalice is used for this purpose. The incidence of celiac disease is more common in Western Europe - Ireland and Great Britain - than elsewhere. My sister has it and I'm very familiar with 'gluten-free cooking' when she visits!

ccc said...

This is what I have seen on this issue recently.


Alastair said...

The closest I have found online is at https://nashvilletlm.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/gluten-intolerance-and-the-extraordinary-form/, but even this ends suggesting submission of a Dubium might be required.

J.S. Ahmad said...

In the Ordo Romanus Primus the Blood was administered to communicants using a silver straw. Presumably, the deacon used the straw as a dropper.

ccc said...

If the FSSP has a particular way of going about it, I bet they have an instruction from the PCED, or they have a way of pointing to immemorial custom.

I would reach out to a local FSSP Priest and inquire there.

JPG said...

I remember, as a child, a gold spoon similar to the practice in the Eastern Churches being used for the sole, and I mean sole, person to receive the Precious Blood except the celebrant himself. This being late sixties early seventies before before Communion under both species was widely used. I remember being envious since this girl entered the sanctuary to receive after everyone else had received. Does anyone else recall a similar practice?

Unknown said...

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, MO www.benedictinesisters.org provide hosts of lowest gluten content approved by the Vatican <.001 or 10ppm.

Kevin Myers said...

A lady received like this at my FSSP parish yesterday. I figured she had ciliac disease something. She received the chalice after everyone had finished.