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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Belly Achers

Thank the Dear Lord I get sick once in a while.  I'm perfectly healthy at the moment and I don't get sick very often. Thank the Dear Lord for that, too.  Because sometimes people who don't get sick at all just have a very difficult time understanding the suffering of others.

Although it was no fun at the time, I once had a strangulated hernia.  As a result, I have a keen understanding of acute abdominal pain and so I sympathize with those who suffer from diverticulitis and I have some understanding of labor pains that would otherwise elude me.  I certainly feel the pain of our dear readers:

Dear Sister, I am a celiac Catholic. While I love God, and the Faith, and communing with Him as much as I can, I am often terrified by Communion. My issue is that I am not able to tolerate any gluten. I have done research, looked at documents regarding diet, and read numerous articles. Apparently to be "Copacetic" (?) the wafers must contain .10% (one-tenth of one percent) gluten. While many can handle the low gluten wafers (Made by Benedictine sisters) I get very ill on those as well. I am able to have the wine and celebrate with that. When I tried to commune with the low-g wafer, I became very ill-I am- the one who vomited up the Lord, due to gluten. Since my family already has a tough time understanding the diet, I got a lot of weird looks, and still do... did I need to go to confession as I did? My priest reassured me that he knew it was a medical issue and that he didn't think he needed to exorcise me. (odd sense of humor.) But while I love God, it hurts that I cannot commune totally, and that I got ill on His body. Have you dealt with this or any other dietary issues? 

Poor thing. I'm sorry your family doesn't understand what your body can not tolerate. You would think it would be very clear and apparent, given the results you have from ingesting gluten. In the future, should you ingest gluten, try to get yourself into the back seat of one of their cars, or seated on their brand new couch.  That might help them in their understanding.

Not only have I dealt with this before, I believe someone tried to sue the Church or called the ACLU or something like that about the rule the Church has about what can and cannot be a host for the Body of Christ.  To no avail.

I personally don't have any dietary issues other than making the mistake of eating curry twice in a row. I can eat curry. I can't eat it again after I eat it.  No curry leftovers for me.

But more and more people do have gluten issues and, until someone invents a 'you can now eat gluten' pill, I'm afraid this is your cross to bear. At least you can still partake of the Blood of Christ, which is just as good as the wafer.  Just because the Church got into a habit of only offering a Host and not the Wine, doesn't mean one is more important or better than the other. What if, all these years, people only got the wine and not the bread, except once in a while the Host was included?  We wouldn't be having this conversation.

Except for this poor gentleman. He would still be having this conversation:

The celiac issue is a huge topic for our family. We really hope and pray one day our dad will convert to Catholicism (mom raised us Catholic). BUT he is afflicted with both severe celiac disease AND alcoholism. Ingesting wheat and/or wine pose difficulties that seem insurmountable for my dad. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Except he isn't having this conversation, as he is not Catholic. One day we hope he has this problem. What a thing to say!


LindaM said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

My protestant friend invited me to join her bible study group. I've been going for several months now and I enjoy the bible study and the prayers. However, anytime time I mention anything remotely Catholic they all go quiet and wait for me to finish and then have no comment. Until last week when I mentioned the Immaculate Conception of Mary and one woman sat bolt upright and said "I've never read that story!" The group leader told her it wasn't in the bible and that is was Catholic Doctrine. I didn't know how to defend this (I do know now as I came home and studied!). Should I keep going to this study? I've been praying about God's will. Am I sinning by going? During this same evening someone talked about praying to God about getting a parking space. I told her we catholics have a saint for that!
I was met with strange looks and no comments.

Julie M. said...

The Body and Blood of Christ is fully present in both the bread and wine species. That means the Blood is present in the Host, and the Body is present in the Chalice.

I am sorry for people with celiac disease that face these challenges, but they do FULLY COMMUNE whether they partake of a low-gluten Host or only from the cup.

No one wants to be "different," but we all have our crosses to bear, and this whole discussion is an excellent opportunity to repair some poor catechesis on the topic.

Furthermore, we should all be paying attention to ourselves during Mass, and not worrying why someone is receiving only from the cup or not at all. This would cut down on people feeling "different" and also on people receiving communion in the state of mortal sin.

Bethy-Doll said...

Thanks Sister MM. Great blog and love reading you, by the way. I have learned to make up treats in the 2 years of diagnosis and wait for the yums and offer, "Yes, it's very good, isn't it? Who knew you can do so much with rice?" :) I love that God offered me the capability to still have chocolate, among other things, and that my list of can'ts isn't as long as some I've seen! :) And I am grateful, I feel A LOT better about this! Ps. St. Lawrence is often someone I talk to (er, sort of) "Please, help me have your grace under fire...and please keep my cookies from burning"! But St. Jude is whom I wear a medal of and keep close as a "Pray for me... I can use some more impossibilities becoming possibilities!" :)

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone with celiac disease has discovered Glutinos. They are really tasty gluten free crackers, made in Italy yet available in our mid-sized city in at least two grocery stores. I'm enjoying eating some right now.

Pop Quiz: Today is the feast of St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church, one of my go-to guys. St. Alphonsus is the patron saint for people with arthritis as he suffered quite severely from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease.

I have systemic lupus myself, another autoimmune disease. Our immune systems are confused and attack our own cells. We're actually allergic to our own DNA! but even though lupus is a disease that was recognized in ancient times (Hippocrates wrote about it) we don't have a patron saint. A major oversight, I think. As Catholics, we know that it is good for us to experience suffering and be able to offer it up. I was really helped by reading Fr. Paul O'Sullivan's leaflet about suffering.
You can read it at


Bethy-Doll, I noticed that St. Lawrence's feast is Aug. 10th so start planning your cook-out!


Luna said...

My husband left the church, in part because he was left out of communion. The priest always broke the bread over the wine, and put a piece into it. The whole thing was contaminated with gluten.

Anonymous said...

Hmm this is response to lune, what views in a religious gathering (catholic, baptist, pentecost, ect )))HAS no bearing on YOUR SALVATION. ((("It is through GRACE YOU are saved! not oF works" eph2))) THINK OF THE bible as puzzle that WILL never contradict itself. OK NOW READ ROMANS It states "IF THY CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH THE LORD JESUS AND BELIEVE IN THINE HEART THAT GOD HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD THOU SHALL BE SAVED. NOW DO YOU REMEMBER THE 2 theives dying with jesus on the cross and one theif rebuked him saying "if your truly god save yourself and the other theif rebuked him and then said remember me oh god!!! AND JESUS SAID SURELY THIS DAY YOU SHALL BE IN PARADISE WITH ME!!! Think about it that theif never once BROKE BREAD NEVER ONCE WAS IN A POSITION TO GOOD WOOKS. He simepley believed in the lord. I TELL YOU ALL WHO HAS READ THIS PI\CK UP YOUR BIBLES AND START READING THEM> THERE ARE THOSE OUT THERE WHO WISH TO CORRUPT YOU WITH THERE BS!!!!

Richard Grabman said...

This is terribly "euro-centric" of the Church. Rodrigo Llanes, a Mexican history professor and chef (a lot of us here work two jobs)wrote a recent essay "Conquista a la carta" published in Relatos e historía (http://relatosehistorias.com.mx/ensayos_relatos.html) mentioning in passing the "problem" for the Church when the conquistadors: could they use corn tortillas, since wheat isn't indigenous to America? The Aztecs didn't have wine, but they had pulque (fermented maguey juice).

Baptizing all those Americans, without access to communion apparently didn't sit well with Padre Olmos and the other priests with Cortés... and it isn't clear that our early American Catholics had rather unorthodox masses as much by necessity as convenience ... valid communion or not?