I am Catholic. Being Catholic and a celiac presents challenges because communion hosts are required to contain wheat. I used to try to just receive the cup but after spending too many Sunday afternoons ill on the couch, I realized that even the gluten from the host dropped into the cup was causing problems.

Very low gluten hosts which are acceptable to the church are available from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (they use wheat starch that tests at the very low level of gluten of most foods marked gluten-free). but there are still issues of how the hosts are to be delivered to the congregant without cross contamination.

If you are Catholic, gluten-free and want to be able to receive communion you will need to get the cooperation of your pastor. That said, there is a way that you can manage to receive communion even if you need a gluten free host.

Each parishoner who needs a gluten-free host can purchase what is known as a pyx. A pyx is the proper name for those ministry of care cases that hold the host so that it can be brought to a person who is too ill to attend mass. You can get one for as little as $20.

If there are multiple parishoners who have issues at the same mass, then you will want to coordinate your pyx so that they don’t match and you will need to work with the priest or a eucharistic minister who regularly serves at the mass that you attend to make sure that they know which parishoner goes with which pyx.

The routine is that the parishoner puts his or her own gluten-free host into the pyx. The pyx then goes on the table with the other gifts and is brought up with them. The priest completes the eucharistic prayer and then the celiac catholic goes up to receive and takes his or her pyx. Ideally the celiacs would go up first…with the choir so that they can receive from eucharistic ministers that have not been handling gluten.

Your pastor may have other suggestions or rules and there may even be a priest he knows who has this condition (with 1 in 133 Americans having full blown celiac disease, there are priests with this issue) and may have his own suggestions. I just wanted any other Catholic celiacs to know that there is an option, there is a way, and if you have the will, you too can go up for communion once again.

The low gluten hosts can be purchased from:
Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
Altar Breads Department
31970 State Highway P
Clyde, Missouri 64432
Phone: 1-800-223-2772