Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Body of . . .Oops! Gluten Free in the World of Church

If you follow my adventures within and beyond church, you already know I can go from zero to gazillion mph when it comes to discussing gluten-free living.

Secular summation: Why are GF foods so needlessly expensive? 

Sacramental summation: Why is offering GF Communion so freakin' difficult?

I stripped gluten from my diet several years ago. A nutritionist thought doing so would reduce my fibromyalgia pain. I rolled my eyes when she trotted out the suggestion. 

"Isn't gluten free the new bright shiny?"

Celiac disease had recently become the diagnosis du jour and I already knew I didn't have that. She provided links to articles in credible journals. Giving up wheat, rye, and barley seemed easy enough. It was and within 72 hours my pain level had dropped a stunning 80-ish percent. 

I became more careful about eating anything with gluten. It was expensive at first because GF foods, especially those made under certified gluten free manufacturing processes are pricey. That was relatively easy for me to work around because I rock at cooking. 

What's wasn't and still isn't so easy is getting GF Eucharist, especially at Roman Catholic churches. Either GF hosts aren't available or arranging to receive them is brutally cumbersome or actually receiving them can be downright humiliating. 

No joke, I attended a church where those receiving GF Eucharist were told to go to the back of the bus line to wait until everyone else was served. This was allegedly easier . . . for the deacon who also made no attempt to disguise his exasperation with the situation. I no longer attend that church. And yes, I was too weary to lift that aggravation up to the Lord or lay it at the foot of the Cross.

Last year I flat-out gave up. When not receiving Communion became too spiritually painful, I decided to opt for physical pain. Impressively white martyr-ish, eh? Not really. 

Turns out a small piece keeps the fibro pain down to a manageable 2-3 on a scale of ten. Tolerable since my normal pain level runs at 5-6 on any given day of goofy barometric pressure changes.

The next challenge became instructing clergy to offer a smaller piece of Eucharist, something routinely done so nursing home communicants don't choke to death on Jesus. But this, too, has proven to be a hassle at times. But it's not a hassle at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baltimore.

I especially love the swift, heartfelt mea culpa Pastor Dale Dusman delivers if he forgets to break what has already broken for us. Last Sunday's sounded like this: "The Body of . . . oops!"  

We both cracked up laughing at the altar rail and thanks to the endorphin boost, I was (relatively) pain-free for the rest of the day.


  1. A topic so near to my heart, as someone who strives to make this more available, easy and filled with welcome...

    It pains me when I hear you say this, and that pain is there, gluten in my diet or not.

  2. Hey Fran...thanks for reposting this to FB where the comments have started and I've added to them, so won't repeat my points here.

    As you can tell, this issue and the absurd tumult around it generated in/by the Roman Catholic church makes me nuts. More nuts! Still, I'm staying!!

  3. In our parish there are some regular parishioners who need gluten free hosts and our pastor makes sure that this is available in a pyx at the Masses which they attend. This is given to them personally. I have no idea whether this was difficult to achieve but it is normal procedure now. Hopefully, something similar can be done in your parish.

  4. "In our parish there are some regular parishioners who need gluten free hosts and our pastor makes sure that this is available in a pyx at the Masses which they attend." - Same situation here and similar procedure. We try to make sure parishioners know that they are available with a simple call to the office to let us know ahead of time. Father consecrates what has been requested with everything else (in a separate pix) and distributes them as the requesters come forward with everyone else (no back of the bus! Yeesh!) If someone forgets to tell us or we have visitors our ushers and Mass Coordinators all know and have access to the little fridge in the main office where we store them. Its all pretty easy and makes people so happy. Its kind of hard to see how this could be any kind of trial for a parish to do for people, Catholic or otherwise. People can be so goofy!


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