Gluten Intolerance and the Extraordinary Form

The autoimmune condition commonly known as “celiac disease”—marked by degenerative inflammation of the bowels upon ingestion of gliadin proteins (a component of the more complex protein commonly referred to as “gluten”) present in wheat and related cereals—appears to have been present in the European population for at least 2,000 years. Not until the 1950s, however, was the condition’s manifestation definitively linked to the gluten present in grain.

The condition presents a problem for Catholic sufferers, of course, because only bread made from wheat constitutes valid matter for the Eucharist under that species: an attempt to consecrate bread made from, e.g., rice, does not “work.”[1]

In 1967, responding to episcopal inquiries prompted by the recent (in Vatican-bureaucracy terms) discovery of the nature of celiac disease, the Sacred Congregation of Rites included the following statement in its instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium:

41. In case of necessity and at the discretion of the bishop, it is permissible for the eucharist to be given under the form of wine alone to those who are unable to receive it under the form of bread.

In this case the celebration of Mass in the presence of the sick person is permissible, at the discretion of the local Ordinary.

If, however, Mass is not celebrated in the presence of the sick person, the blood of the Lord should be preserved in a properly covered chalice and placed in the tabernacle after Mass; it should not be carried to the sick person unless it is enclosed in a container that prevents any danger of spilling. In administering the sacrament, the method best suited to the individual case should be chosen from among those indicated in the rites for use in distributing communion under both kinds. If, after communion has been given, some of the precious blood remains, the minister is to consume it; he is also to see to the required ablutions.[2]

If the Sacred Congregation of Rites addressed the topic elsewhere prior to 1962, or if the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has done so since 1988, I have not been able to find a reference to it. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith followed with two more recent letters in 1995 and 2003, specifying that while gluten-free hosts are invalid matter,[3] low-gluten hosts 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.”[4]

Some persons afflicted with celiac disease, however, suffer the condition’s symptoms even upon consumption of carefully produced low-gluten breads. In the Ordinary Form, it is obviously generally possible for these persons to receive Holy Communion under the form of wine alone; can these people be accommodated in the Extraordinary Form via Eucharisticum Mysterium No. 41, or otherwise?

Summorum Pontificum would not seem, simply by itself, to incorporate Eucharisticum Mysterium, since it was not part of the liturgical law in force in 1962. The matter is, at least, not clear enough for the nonexpert to conclude otherwise. Fr. Zuhlsdorf seems to think one can apply Eucharisticum Mysterium (or some other provision) in the E.F., but he cites no source and provides no reasoning.[5]

There is also the Rite for Holy Communion Outside of Mass. In the 1952 Rituale Romanum, this rite is relatively brief, and appears to contemplate its occurrence immediately before or after Mass.[6] But the same problem remains: can one administer Holy Communion under the species of wine using this rite? The answer is just as unclear (at best) as it is with the Missal itself. One could always simply use the Ordinary Form’s rite for the distribution of Holy Communion outside of Mass (that’s not mixing forms in a single rite, it’s following one rite with another), but the rite is cumbersome, requiring, inter alia, readings! (I don’t own a copy of the Book of Rites, and it’s not available online, so I cannot say whether there is a less cumbersome option therein.)

What really needs to happen is for a bishop to send a letter containing the following dubia to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei:

  1. During the celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form, may Holy Communion under the appearance of wine alone be administered, pursuant to Eucharisticum Mysterium No. 41 or otherwise, to the faithful unable to receive it under the form of bread?
  2. During the celebration of the Rite for Holy Communion Outside of Mass found in the 1952 typical edition of the Rituale Romanum used pursuant to Summorum Pontificum, may Holy Communion under the appearance of wine alone be administered, pursuant to Eucharisticum Mysterium No. 41 or otherwise, to one of the faithful unable to receive it under the form of bread?
  3. If the answer to No. 2 is “yes,” may the Precious Blood be reserved for this purpose during a celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, provided that the conditions that would govern such reservation in the Ordinary Form are fulfilled?[7]
  4. If the answer to either No. 2 or No. 1 is “yes,” what is the formula to be recited by the administering priest and (if any) the communicant?

One would think that the answer to the first three questions (or at the very least numbers 2 and 3) would certainly be “yes”: the Extraordinary Form is not a museum exhibit, after all. Pending an answer, post-Mass communication via the N.O. rite for Holy Communion Outside of Mass, with as much abbreviation thereof as possible, would seem to be the easiest, most clearly permissible method of accommodating those suffering from severe celiac disease assisting at Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

(Corrections and directions to documents shedding additional light on the question are always welcome.)

—————–
[1] See Dominus Salvator noster, 21 A.A.S. 631 (Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, March 26, 1929); see also Redemptionis Sacramentum ¶ 48, 96 A.A.S. 549, 566–67 (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, March 25, 2004), available in translation at http://tinyurl.com/yq6vp; CCC ¶ 1412; accord, e.g., 1983 CIC c. 924 § 2.

[2] Eucharisticum Mysterium: Instruction on Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery ¶ 41, 59 A.A.S. 539, 563 (Sacred Congregation of Rites, May 25, 1967), available in translation at http://tinyurl.com/pnpxbtw.

[3] Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to all Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences concerning the Use of Low-Gluten Altar Breads and Mustum as Matter for the Celebration of the Eucharist (June 19, 1995), available at http://tinyurl.com/od663ys.

[4] Circular Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to All Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences Concerning the Use of Low-Gluten Altar Breads and Mustum as Matter for the Celebration of the Eucharist (July 24, 2003), available at http://tinyurl.com/q3hdgbr. Accord United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Celiac Disease, Alcohol Intolerance, and the Church’s Pastoral Response (2012), available at http://tinyurl.com/pqyt3zx.

[5] See Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, QUAERITUR: Celiac, Communion and the Extraordinary Form, Fr. Z’s Blog (Aug. 15, 2012), http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/08/quaeritur-celiac-communion-and-the-extraordinary-form.

[6] See Rite for Holy Communion Outside of Mass, in Rituale Romanum (Sacred Congregation of Rites, 1952). A more-or-less equivalent translation is available at the Sancta Missa site, http://tinyurl.com/nh99zfm. That text, however, is drawn from a 1964 translation and representation of the Rituale, see Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Rituale Romanum: Table of Contents, Sancta Missa, http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/resources/books-1962/rituale-romanum/index.html, which,  pace the Canons’ representation, is not precisely identical to the Typical Edition of 1952 and the permissions and amendments made through 1962 in every respect (although it is astonishing that the Canons would make such a mistake). For instance, the Canons’ 1964 text includes the revised dialogue between priest and communicant: “V. Corpus Christ. R. Amen”; the rite as it existed in 1962 preserved the formula found in that year’s typical edition of the Missale Romanum. See Frederick McManus, Parish Ritual 122 (1962). The revised exchange was not promulgated until April 1964. See Decree of New Formula in the Distribution of Holy Communion, 56 A.A.S. 337, 337–38 (Sacred Congregation of Rites, April 25, 1964). Also, the Canons’ text is not the translation authorized for liturgical use; it is the translation of Fr. Philip Weller, editor of the leading English edition of the Rituale for many years. The translations that were given recognitio for liturgical use are contained in the 1961 Collectio Rituum, and remain under copyright by the USCCB as successor of the National Catholic Conference. The 1964 books (both Fr. Weller’s and a 1964 U.S. Collectio) are often available for purchase online, but one probably should not attempt to use them without consulting one of the similar works published in 1961 or 1962 and making proper alterations or notations.

[7] My inclination is that this question is unnecessary, and that the answer can be deduced from existing legislation. Reservation of the Sacred Species would appear to be a “disciplinary norm[] connected to celebration” that would be governed by otherwise existing law, see Instruction on the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Benedict XVI Given Motu Proprio ¶ 27, 103 A.A.S. 413, 419 (Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, April 30, 2011), available in translation at http://tinyurl.com/3b7khct, which, in the U.S., permits reservation of the Precious Blood for administration “to someone who is sick,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America ¶ 54, available at http://tinyurl.com/pee6lyw. Of course, it’s possible that Eucharisticum Mysterium paragraph 41 is itself a “disciplinary norm[] connected to celebration”; surely that phrase invokes concepts otherwise interpreted in canon law that would allow someone trained in that science to form an opinion.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s