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Tyler Martel wrote:

Hi, guys —

I understand the differences between a substance and an accident when referring to the consecrated host. The accidents are retained supernaturally by God after the bread/wine have been transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. I can see the logic of keeping most of the accidents from the bread, such as the appearance, taste, texture and calorie count.

  • Why aren't the effects of gluten kept from the consecrated bread so those with celiac can partake in the Eucharist?

I cannot see any logical reason for God to do this. This is why I find the real presence simply unbelievable.

Thanks for your help.

Tyler

  { Why aren't the effects of gluten kept from the consecrated host so the celiac faithful can partake? }

Eric replied:

Tyler,

If God removed the accident of gluten, then you could tell, scientifically, the difference between a consecrated host and an unconsecrated host. This would remove the element of faith required to believe in the Real Presence — it would be no longer faith, but knowledge. There would no longer be virtue in believing in the Real Presence.

Besides, only a small proportion of people are truly allergic to gluten. The whole anti-gluten crusade is a modern fad. If you consider the number of believers in over 2,000 years of Christian history, only a infinitesimal percentage of them are unable to receive the Eucharist under the form of bread because of gluten. We must look at the big picture like we were in an airplane at 30,000 feet, beyond our current culture.

There is, moreover, the option of receiving the Eucharist under the form of wine to avoid the gluten.

Eric

Tyler replied:

Eric,

After consecration, no gluten (or wheat) remains, only the appearance (or accident) of gluten (wheat) remain, so the scientific argument is not relevant to the question.

God must actively retain the effects of gluten on the digestive tract, knowing full well that some people, however small that number is, cannot receive the host. For centuries, the bread was the only form the faithful could receive. This seems to be God against Himself.

  • If you wish to make the argument that people with celiac disease who eat the consecrated host and do not suffer one bit, would be proof of transubstantiation (and therefore not a matter of faith), do you also deny the empty tomb?
  • Is that not proof of the Resurrection?
  • Do you deny the appearances of Jesus after the Resurrection as that too would be proof?
  • Is the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano a fake?
  • I don't want to be argumentative, but has not God provided many proofs of the truth of Christianity?

Again, there seems to be no logical reason for God to actively sustain an effect of a substance unnecessarily.

Thanks for your reply.

Tyler

Eric replied:

Tyler,

You said:
After consecration no gluten (or wheat) remains, only the appearance (accident) of gluten (wheat), so the scientific argument is not relevant to the question.

Chemically speaking, the host retains all its observable properties/effects, and so empirically speaking, a consecrated host is identical to an unconsecrated host. It is true that the substance of gluten departs, but it retains the chemical properties and reactions of gluten.

You said:
God must actively retain the effects of gluten on the digestive tract, knowing full well that some people, however small that number is, cannot receive the host. For centuries, the bread was the only form the faithful could receive. This seems to be God against Himself.

God against himself? I am not sure I understand what you mean.

You said:

  • If you wish to make the argument that people with celiac disease who eat the consecrated host and do not suffer one bit, would be proof of transubstantiation (and therefore not a matter of faith), do you also deny the empty tomb?

No, that's the opposite of my argument. A celiac would suffer from eating the consecrated bread precisely because it retains its chemical properties, including the effects of gluten. My argument is that if God removed the gluten accidents, and hence chemical properties, as you think he should, that a consecrated host would be empirically differentiable from an unconsecrated host, and would deprive us of the opportunity to have faith.

You said:

  • Is that not proof of the Resurrection?
  • Do you deny the appearances of Jesus after the Resurrection as that too would be proof?
  • Is the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano a fake?
  • I don't want to be argumentative, but has not God provided many proofs of the truth of Christianity?

Again, there seems to be no logical reason for God to actively sustain an effect of a substance unnecessarily.

It's always dangerous to argue what it is logical for God to do or not to do. To deny a matter of faith because we cannot conceive of it being true is, in effect, an arrogation; God's ways are not our ways and His Thoughts are not our thoughts. Just because something doesn't make sense to us is not sufficient proof that it is not true.

Moreover, I find your argument unconvincing. You stated beforehand that you find the Real Presence simply unbelievable yet your argument centers around, not the Real Presence, but the effects of gluten on the recipient, which would happen whether or not the Real Presence were true.

Regardless of the Real Presence, Christ bids us to eat and drink the consecrated bread or wine so that we may have life. This disturbs equally the celiac who believes in the Real Presence and the celiac who does not.

I do not find your argument to be one against the Real Presence, but one against the Eucharist per se.

Eric

Bob replied:

Tyler,

God's existence does not hinge on whether we understand how He has ordered things, but a lack of understanding serves to frustrate our knowledge of Him.

Persons with celiac disease are able receive low-gluten or partially gluten-free hosts upon request, so God does not have to change the order of things to accommodate them. Likewise, for persons with difficulty with bread there is wine, and vice versa. In order for the original form to be upheld (for wine to be wine it must embody all its characteristics: fermented grapes with alcohol etc) all of its accidents must also be kept.

Peace,

Bob

Tyler replied:

Hi guys,

Thanks for trying.

I will keep an open mind going forward and will avail myself to a reasonable explanation if God wills it.

All the best.

Tyler

Mike replied:

Hi, Tyler —

Here's a similar EWTN News article on the topic:

I just wanted to highlight one section:

Why must a Communion host contain at least some gluten?

Wheat bread and wine of the grape are the matter of the sacrament of the Eucharist because Christ instituted the sacrament under these species. Moreover, Christ compared himself to a grain of wheat, and to the vine.

At some point along the line the question of gluten came arose, and whether the bread used for Holy Communion necessitated at least some gluten (and its accompanying protein gliadin) to be considered wheat bread that was valid matter for the sacrament.

A July 2003 circular letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, noting documents from the 1980s and '90s, recalled that Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.

It added that 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.

And in 2004 the Congregation for Divine Worship wrote in its instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum that 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. 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.

That said, the Church recognizes that it mustn't exclude from receiving Communion Catholics with celiac disease, and has made accommodation for those who are unable to consume normal bread.

Hope this helps,

Mike

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