A reader writes in:
I am a bit obsessed with hospitality, it must be my inner Benedictine! As the parish secretary, I get to do a lot of things that focus on ways that “welcome Christ.” One of these things is making low-gluten hosts available. We have a number of elderly people with celiac, as well as kids.
We don’t have a refrigerator in the sacristy and the rectory is a separate building, so we can’t keep the low gluten bread at church. I give out small supplies to those who need it, along with a pyx. They bring the host to church, placing it in Father’s paten when they arrive. Then they must go to his line in order to receive. When it was one or two people, it was easier, but now that we have more it grows more complicated. Plus, it is not possible to accommodate people who show up spontaneously.
I just reread the 2012 thread on the topic, but I am wondering if there would be any chance of having a conversation around it on Pray Tell again. What are people doing? What are their procedures?
In my perfect liturgy, in addition to a sacristy with a fridge, I would have a smaller second paten/bowl for consecration. When people in need of low gluten arrive, they could go to the sacristy and let the head Eucharistic minister know. The head Eucharistic minister would then place the appropriate amount of hosts in that bowl alone.
Now the problem is that if there were only one or two people, which might be the case, there would be one Eucharistic minister with nothing to do.
Follow up to this – Celiac and First Eucharist. That’s another iron in my fire right now.
A lot has changed in the last few years and the distribution of low-gluten hosts has become more common in parishes. Often times the low-gluten hosts are placed on the altar and consecrated in a pyx next to the paten. I have also seen the pyx placed on the paten with the other hosts during consecration. This practice attempts to maintain the symbolic unity of the one bread broken for us.
Despite the many good practices I have seen, I think that we have not yet discovered the best practice for the consecration and distribution of low-gluten hosts. The best practice must strike a balance between pastoral necessity, Eucharistic symbolism, and sheer practicality.
How does your community consecrate and distribute low-gluten hosts?
Note: The link to the USCCB’s article “A Short Introduction to Holy Communion and Celiac Sprue Disease” in the 2012 post is no longer active. To go to the updated page, click here.