Orthodox Communion and Celiac Disease ?

Delphine

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Ebor said:
SolEX01 said:
If communicable diseases are not transmitted in Canonically Valid Holy Communion, why would celiac disease not be any different?
Because Celiac Disease is an auto-immune condition that is part of a person's body/system.  It's something that one can be genetically predisposed to have.  It's not transmitted by any germs or outside agents.

What happened to the power of God working in someone who has celiac disease?
Is the Body still bread chemically so that the gluten product is still present?  Then the body is reacting in its normal way to that product.  I"m sorry, but I don't understand what you mean in the above sentence.  Are you trying to say that God would prevent the auto-immune reaction?

Ebor  
I just want to repeat everything Ebor said. The people asking about communion already have Celiac disease, and so cannot have anything with gluten. While the studies of communion and disease are interesting, contracting or passing along the disease is not their concern.

I have a friend who doesn't have Celiac (she can eat many things with gluten), but she is allergic to wheat specifically. This developed when we were freshmen in college, and she was throwing up daily and nauseous the rest of the time. She was already 5'3" and 105-110 lbs., but because she could not hold anything down, her weight dropped to below 100. A doctor eventually pinpointed her wheat allergy, and since eliminating wheat from her diet, she is no longer sick.

She used to think she was allergic to soy. Turns out that's because most soy sauce has wheat mixed in!

From what I'm hearing, is it correct to say that how people with Celiac receive communion depends on the priest and the severity of the person's reaction?
 

Patty Joanna

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I have wheat allergy; my dh has celiac.  We both receive, and our priest gives us mostly wine from the co-mingled chalice.  Neither of us partakes of the antidoron after communion, and my dh, who is more sensitive than I, receives first in line so that he can partake of the cleansing wine/water without having had kids dipping their antidoron in that before he gets there.  It took a few passes for the kids to get used to not being able to dip their bread in THAT particular wine, but they do comply now. 

I was interested to note that preceding posters have noted that the bishop has given permission for non-comingled wine, and if your celiac is that serious that even a grain of gluten can do you in, I recommend you talk to your priest, as someone mentioned, with brochures in hand.  Not making demands, but informationally.  I cannot imagine my bishop turning a dear ear to one who wishes to receive communion who is physically debilitated by so doing. 

There is enough research out there to show that the wheat we have now is not even similar to the wheat of Jesus' time.  It is shorter, and contains more gluten, due to having been genetically modified.  It's a crime, but there it is. 

God be with you. 
 

ebailey

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SakranMM- Father, bless!  Can you say who your bishop is? I ask because I attend an Antiochian church in the Boston area, and I wonder if our bishop would allow something similar.

I'm Celiac, and have been communing with just the wine from the co-mingled chalice, but I still get sick every week as a result. For anyone who doesn't know about Celiac Disease - this is not just a stomachache, this is an autoimmune reaction, in which the body attacks itself and does damage to itself. I wish that this weren't the case -- I, too have heard many stories of people with Celiac Disease who have no reaction to the wheat in the elements of communion. Sadly, I am not one of them. 

I still commune every week or so, because I believe communion is of utmost importance. The problem is that I'm hoping to have children soon, and not sticking to a strict GF diet during pregnancy is associated with miscarriage, low birth weight, autism, as well as other possible birth defects for the child.

So, I guess I have two issues: 1) the crisis of whether I should or shouldn't seek to "find a way around" this issue: I want very much to just trust in God's providence on all this, and perhaps I should just do that and not worry about trying to commune in a perfectly gluten free chalice. But I guess I'd be interested to hear the reasoning of priests or bishops who do allow for modifications to the regular way of taking communion (I am familiar with, and currently submit to, the views of those who believe that the most I can do is only take the wine from the common cup, but I haven't ever heard anything from anyone in ecclesiastical authority who allow parishioners to commune from a wine-only chalice -- in fact, I didn't even know this was a possibility until I read about it online), and 2) If the way SakranMM distributes the Mysteries to the Celiacs in his church would even be a possibility for me. I don't know if our bishop would allow it, and I find it profoundly upsetting to asks these questions of people who don't know much about Celiac disease, and react with horror at my asking, as if I don't believe that the Mysteries are the true Body and Blood as well as bread and wine.

Many thanks for any help that others can give!
 

Quinault

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Yes, I am resurrecting this thread. It has a lot of bearing on our son's life at the moment.

It seems our son Tazzy has a very significant celiac reaction to communion. Considering the fact that at almost 11 months he is 26 inches long (not on the charts) and not quite 14 lbs (not even close to the bottom of the chart), every gluten reaction he has sets him back considerably.

So does anyone that has celiac have any opinions on what I should do? This is not a fad GF diet for us. There are fad GF people at our parish, and of course they do not have a gluten reaction from communion.
 

Quinault

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SolEX01 said:
If Holy Communion can kill a person with Celiac Disease, perhaps they ought not get in line regardless of faith.  If partaking the Body and Blood of Christ can kill a person; Gee, there's only a handful of evil people who died in the Epistles - none by receiving Communion.
I find this response pretty abrasive and heartless.
 

Quinault

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To put things into perspective; Taz should be close to 20 lbs, and 30 inches in length. So the fact that he is less than 14 lbs, and 26 inches in length is significant, and attributable to his celiac. His is the most dramatic case his doctor has ever seen.
 

Shanghaiski

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NicholasMyra said:
Jonathan Gress said:
Where God wills it, the order of nature is overcome.
Pentecostals have the same justification for snake handling.
Really? I always thought the Pentecostal snake handlers got their justification from Mark 16:18 not the Tone 7 Dogmatic Theotokion.
 

noahs_mommom

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Quinalt.

This has been a sore subject with me for a while, and I'm really struggling, so I feel your pain.  I have Celiac, Eosiniphilic Esophagitis, and Lupus.  Gluten is a serious problem for me, it can cause very real health problems which go beyond the symptoms of Celiac Disease.  Talk to your priest, my priest gives me a tiny bit when I go up for communion, but even a tiny bit can hurt, so I don't approach the chalice often.  I know that in some cases, the Priest gets permission to just give wine, and in others, they have a separate chalice all together for someone with Celiac.  It's very very hard to deal with.  I hope that you find the answers you need. It's hard because people don't take Celiac seriously, it's an extremely serious problem.

Prayers!
 

mrsdalloway

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Fellow Orthodox celiac here. When I converted, I was concerned about how my body would handle the Eucharist, as even the smallest amount of gluten will make me sick. Miraculously, in my case, I found that it does not make me ill. However, that's not the case for all Orthodox celiacs. If it does make you sick, the priest can make special preparations for you. I know one priest who would set aside the wine before the bread went in it and would serve that to the celiac. Talk to your priest; I'm sure something can be arranged.
 

ElizabethNM

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I'm glad it occurred to me to open this forum again and find others dealing with this.

Welcome, Quinault. I'm sorry to hear of your problems with your son. But thank you for confirming what I know to be reality.

Frankly, the difficulty of living in full communion with the church, in its primary liturgical celebration, is what is keeping me from Orthodoxy. There is a wonderful church full of converts I attend now and then. The Bible lessons are fascinating, and I love the Eucharistic celebration. But as it is now, I couldn't participate. The pastor, the one who gives such vivid and enlightening Bible studies, when asked about celiac parishioners, had this to say: "The body and blood of Jesus Christ could not possibly do any harm."

This is real. We are not imagining things, nor being hypochondriacs.

The pain is not the main problem. Neither is the possible public humiliation from uncontrollable events that happen after gluten ingestion. (Although, of course, that is a concern!)

The main problem is, every exposure to gluten causes damage to one's intestines. Enough damage and you could get colon cancer. 

My mother died of colon cancer at age 64. I am age 60.

So, I'm in no-man's land. I believe Orthodoxy is closer to the truth than Catholicism, but it would be difficult to fully participate in. (It causes enough awkwardness to politely refuse the andiron!)

True, I could decide to stick around and educate people, but that's wearing. I'm an introvert, not a natural-born trailblazer. I'd be embarrassed to have a special fuss made for me -- to change things that radically, to change a church famed for its changelessness.

Especially since I know most people won't think it's really necessary. (After all, communion doesn't carry germs, and that's the same thing, isn't it? No, it isn't the same thing, at all.)

Look in this thread, at all the people who nonchalantly assured the original poster and others that their problem didn't really exist. The implication given, of course, is that it wouldn't exist IF the celiac patients were sincere and had enough faith -- the kind of faith that, of course, they, the responders, had. The questioner's belief in their supposed problem was seen as a reflection on them.  That kind of hyperspiritual one-upmanship is what I am afraid of. No, sorry, I've been behind that Pentecostal 8-ball enough times.

I've been advised to just plunge in and trust the priest, but the common lack of awareness and especially lack of belief in (respect of?) the importance of this, makes such trust a gamble.  How careful was Baruch's mother's priest with her?

It is confusing, isn't it? Like ebailey, "I find it profoundly upsetting to ask these questions of people who don't know much about Celiac disease, and react with horror at my asking, as if I don't believe that the Mysteries are the true Body and Blood as well as bread and wine." But they are both, aren't they? It seems that, in practice, Orthodoxy's interpretation of the communion mystery is much more rigid than the supposedly overly-scholastic thinking of Catholicism.
 

noahs_mommom

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Elizabeth, I couldn't have said it better myself.  This is exactly how I feel!  It's really very hard, so thank you for posting!
 

SolEX01

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ElizabethNM said:
.... True, I could decide to stick around and educate people, but that's wearing. I'm an introvert, not a natural-born trailblazer. I'd be embarrassed to have a special fuss made for me -- to change things that radically, to change a church famed for its changelessness.
The Church practices economy such that she can minister to people with celiac disease.  If your Priest doesn't get it, try the Bishop.  Chances are that the Bishop has allowed other communities to commune people with celiac disease from separate chalices.

ElizabethNM said:
Look in this thread, at all the people who nonchalantly assured the original poster and others that their problem didn't really exist. The implication given, of course, is that it wouldn't exist IF the celiac patients were sincere and had enough faith -- the kind of faith that, of course, they, the responders, had. The questioner's belief in their supposed problem was seen as a reflection on them.  That kind of hyperspiritual one-upmanship is what I am afraid of. No, sorry, I've been behind that Pentecostal 8-ball enough times.
I still stand by the statement that Holy Communion is harmless except, as an act of contrition and economy, acknowledge that the gluten present in the bread can cause harm.

ElizabethNM said:
It seems that, in practice, Orthodoxy's interpretation of the communion mystery is much more rigid than the supposedly overly-scholastic thinking of Catholicism.
Are there other Orthodox practices that you find more rigid than Catholicism?  ???
 

Quinault

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Tazzy has been on prescription formula now for 3 months. He is up to 17 pounds in weight, and 28 inches in length :) He is consuming about 2k calories a day, and has flatlined in weight gain for the last 2 months. It seems his digestive system is still healing. Hopefully soon his system will be fully healed. But for now, he is still on a strict GF diet. I still struggle a great deal with the issue of communion. Because he can't tell me how he feels, I don't know how much the gluten in communion sparks a reaction. This leaves me with a profound sense of guilt. If I commune him and he reacts, but can't tell me I am essentially harming him. If I don't commune him, I am keeping him from an essential "food."

During the last 3 months he hasn't had communion more than 2-3 times due to a variety of factors outside of our control. He didn't have too bad of a reaction to communion the last 2 times he had it. In those 2 cases I took him to the chalice and asked that they don't give him any bread (which is more than awkward in the line, I tried to ask ahead of time but no one remembers the conversation). So I think that helped. I didn't see how much bread he was given yesterday since his godfather took him to communion. He has been very, very, fussy since yesterday afternoon and thru today. And his diapers have been "off" so to speak (any celiac knows what I mean). But I have no idea how much of it has to do with his celiac disease. Times like this I wish that he could communicate more :(
 

Shanghaiski

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One of the issues with celiac disease and gluten intolerance is that reactions vary widely from person to person and encounter to encounter.
 

JamesR

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Here's a thought; in theory, if the faith of an infant is confirmed through the proclamation of a sponsor/godparent in Orthodoxy, then can't the godparent also receive the Eucharist on behalf of a person with celiac disease? Say, every Sunday, the godparent receives the Eucharist twice; once for himself, and once for the godchild.
 

Shanghaiski

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JamesR said:
Here's a thought; in theory, if the faith of an infant is confirmed through the proclamation of a sponsor/godparent in Orthodoxy, then can't the godparent also receive the Eucharist on behalf of a person with celiac disease? Say, every Sunday, the godparent receives the Eucharist twice; once for himself, and once for the godchild.
No. The godparent and the godchild do not share the same hypostasis. Sacraments are for hypostases.
 

JamesR

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Shanghaiski said:
JamesR said:
Here's a thought; in theory, if the faith of an infant is confirmed through the proclamation of a sponsor/godparent in Orthodoxy, then can't the godparent also receive the Eucharist on behalf of a person with celiac disease? Say, every Sunday, the godparent receives the Eucharist twice; once for himself, and once for the godchild.
No. The godparent and the godchild do not share the same hypostasis. Sacraments are for hypostases.
Hmm. Well, if both of them have been united through Christ in Baptism, then technically can't it be argued that they do share the same hypostasis through their unity to Christ?
 

Shanghaiski

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JamesR said:
Shanghaiski said:
JamesR said:
Here's a thought; in theory, if the faith of an infant is confirmed through the proclamation of a sponsor/godparent in Orthodoxy, then can't the godparent also receive the Eucharist on behalf of a person with celiac disease? Say, every Sunday, the godparent receives the Eucharist twice; once for himself, and once for the godchild.
No. The godparent and the godchild do not share the same hypostasis. Sacraments are for hypostases.
Hmm. Well, if both of them have been united through Christ in Baptism, then technically can't it be argued that they do share the same hypostasis through their unity to Christ?
No.
 
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