One Thin Wafer

Jim Slagle's got some thoughtful commentary about Haley Waldman, an eight year old Catholic girl from New Jersey whose first communion was declared invalid recently. Waldman has a medical condition that prohibits her from eating gluten, a substance found in wheat. She had a rice wafer at her first communion, something the archdiocese of Trenton says is a no-go.

Slage's not so sure the archdiocese made the right decision:

if there is a connection between the spiritual and the physical -- as Christianity asserts -- then the nature of the host may be inherently connected to its physical ingredients. In this case, to alter its ingredients would invalidate it regardless of the reasons behind it...unless there was a miracle. Which is in God's curriculum vitae. Not to mention the fact that the whole process of transubstantiation is already a miracle.

And since Christianity very strongly claims that God is a God of justice, it seems to me (and I'm wrong a lot) that it wouldn't be against his nature to allow the rice wafer to be transubstantiated.

There may be a way for Waldman to meet church law and care for her health. A few weeks back, the Detroit News reported on a new low gluten wafer developed by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri.

"The total gluten content of the communion hosts is .001 percent," reported the Detroit News, "such a small amount that it is considered safe for most celiac sufferers but sufficient to conform to the canons. The sisters’ wafers have the blessing of celiac researchers and and the Vatican and are the only product approved for use at Mass in the United States."

So what about Catholics in Asia, where wheat is not a staple--but rice is. For Protestants, the answer is easy--in my faith tradition, sticky rice and palm wine are substitute for bread and wine during services in Thailand. The rules for Catholics are not so flexible--but it's been interesting to know if rice communion wafers are used elsewhere in the world.


Powered by Blogger