The Wrong Stuff

8-year-old’s first Holy Communion invalidated by Church
By JOHN CURRAN, The Associated Press

BRIELLE, N.J. – An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot consume wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained none, violating Catholic doctrine.

(Thanks, Fark)

Redemptionis Sacramentum, paragraph 48:

“[48.] The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.123 It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.124 It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist. Hosts should obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools.125


123 Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 924 S2; Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, n. 320.
124 Cf. S. Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Dominus Salvator noster, 26 March 1929, n. 1: AAS 21 (1929) pp. 631-642, here p. 632.
125 Cf. ibidem, n. II: AAS 21 (1929) p. 635.

What do you folks think about this? Is the exclusive use of wheat dogmatic, doctrinal, of ordinary tradition (habit, as opposed to Sacred Tradition), or merely intended to preclude the use of unworthy materials?

Comments 7

  1. Funky Dung wrote:

    I agree that she should have received the blood. I really don’t understand why she didn’t. As for the “teeny tiny crumb” idea, if she were my child, it’d be a no-brainer. There is no way on God’s green earth I’d endanger her life like that. Allergies like that are serious business and can be life threatening at the smallest concentrations.

    I’ve looked around and I can’t find a satifying explanation of why wheat is neccessary. It seems that it’s been enforced as ordinary infallibility (i.e. bishops agreeing about it for centuries). If this were a matter of faith or morals, I’d be supportive of that reasoning. It’s not.

    Still, that’s the rule, and disobeying it willy-nilly isn’t appropriate, especially when a valid alternative is available. Does anybody have a version of this story that explains the rejection of the Precious Blood?

    Posted 14 Aug 2004 at 11:37 pm
  2. Donna Marie Lewis wrote:

    I believe that the mother refused that option, Emily.
    Also, it has to be wheat to be valid. If I remember correctly,the Church ruled on this several centuries ago, when missionaries in Asia asked if rice would be valid.
    Best explanation I’ve come across is the chapter “Why Wheat?” in the book “Why Matter Matters” by David Lang.

    Posted 14 Aug 2004 at 6:47 pm
  3. Emily wrote:

    I don’t have a comment about the tradition of using wheat – but I’m confused as to why she didn’t receive the Sacred Blood if they know she has this disorder. The fullness of the sacrament is present under either form.

    Posted 14 Aug 2004 at 5:21 pm
  4. John Thompson wrote:

    I once had a conversation with a priest (I believe it was Father Joe) that seems pertinent.

    He told me that the Church has some exceptions in its rules for the sacraments for extreme situations. The classic example being a situation like in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” where an imprisoned priest is tending to a group of people about to be executed. The priest said that, in that situation, any bread can be used for Communion.

    I realize that this is not the same situation. However, I think that if you could find the document explaining the reasoning behind that exception, you’d probably get a better understanding of the wheat question, and would also be able to consider whether the reasoning also applies in this situation.

    Posted 15 Aug 2004 at 1:16 am
  5. Alexa wrote:

    I think ya gotta stick to yer guns on this. She should have been offered a drop of Precious Blood instead. Or, at the very least a teeny tiny crumb of the Eucharistic Bread. Probably wouldn’t have killed her.

    Posted 14 Aug 2004 at 8:37 pm
  6. EmilyE wrote:

    Interestingly, there are low-gluten (nearly wheat-free, but not quite) hosts that I’ve been told are valid.

    And European doctors seem to be in consensus that such small amounts of gluten wouldn’t hurt a child with that disorder… American doctors apparently go for the complete-abstinence-from-wheat approach.

    But I agree with Emily #1… Why couldn’t she just partake of the Precious Blood?

    Posted 16 Aug 2004 at 1:57 am
  7. Jerry Nora wrote:

    This issue popped up in Boston several years ago–again, the Blood was never mentioned, and the family became Methodist. Someone should wake up and send a little memo around the parishes.

    Posted 15 Aug 2004 at 12:38 am

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Otay, Buckwheat @ Ales Rarus on 04 Oct 2006 at 4:27 pm

    […] August 18th, 2004 by Funky Dung Here’s another about celiac disease and wheat hosts. The last time I blogged about this, it was just one little girl. This is about a whole facility mass producing wheat-free hosts without permission. Again I ask, at what level of truth does the insistence on wheat stand? Was the Eucharist improperly confected at thousands of masses? Was the sacrament valid?Funky Dung […]

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