Many people struggling with gluten intolerance or celiac disease face extreme dietary limits. Some may feel cut off from certain activities. However, rising awareness about these conditions is introducing new options in all areas of life.
A cornerstone of Catholicism, communion is an important ceremony to many people of faith. The basis of communion is eating a small wafer that symbolizes the body of Jesus Christ. This gesture of faith affirms the promise of salvation through belief in Jesus. However, for some, eating the communion wafer could have dire health consequences.
A protein product known as gluten exists in almost every food processed from wheat. This includes communion wafers, as well as pizza, cakes, beer, pasta, and bread. An increasing number of people are being diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Celiac disease can cause intense discomfort when an individual ingests products containing gluten. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, headaches, joint pain, diarrhea, bloating, and lethargy. Unfortunately, the only available treatment is to avoid foods containing gluten.
Until recently, this fact excluded the gluten intolerant person from receiving communion. However, since the recent rise in awareness about celiac disease, a plethora of gluten-free substitutes has appeared. This includes common items like the gluten-free bread at Julian Bakery, an all-natural California bakery. These days, it also includes communion wafers.
Increasing numbers of churches now offer gluten-free communion options. This makes the communion rites accessible to religious individuals who cannot comfortably tolerate gluten. However, not everyone is happy with this addition to the communion menu.
Roman Catholics believe that the communion wafer must be made from unleavened wheat. It is commonly believed that Jesus ate unleavened bread at the Last Supper. Since communion partly commemorates the Last Supper before the crucifixion, some churches prefer accurate wafers. Still, one must wonder if Jesus handed out His unleavened bread in the form of perfectly round crackers.
The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, however, created the new gluten-sensitive wafers. This order of nuns is based in Mississippi. These nun-created and approved wafers surely must be acceptable to the Church?
Only time will tell if the Benedictine Sisters’ gluten-conscious efforts will catch on. While drinking communion wine alone is an acceptable option, many prefer the full rite. Gluten-free establishments such as Julian Bakery open up new possibilities for the gluten-intolerant. Maybe the Church will follow suit and begin catering to the diversity of its members.
Julian Bakery specializes in organic, gluten-free, low-carb breads. They use an old-fashioned stone mill to create all of their breads. The bakery is located in La Jolla, California and ships its products worldwide.