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Raymond Lynch wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am deadly allergic to wheat. If I eat wheat flour, I will die.

  • If, as according to the doctrine of transubstantiation, the host literally transforms into the body of Christ, my allergy shouldn't be a problem, right?
  • Is there any reason I couldn't receive Holy Communion?

Raymond

  { Although I am deadly allergic to wheat in the unleavened host, shouldn't I be able to receive? }

John replied:

Hi, Raymond —

Thanks for your question.

The Doctrine of Transubstantiation says that the "substance" changes and the accidents remain the same. The chemical structure of bread is not the substance, it is the accident, philosophically. It is what gives bread it's appearance right down to it's microscopic level. Were you to put a Consecrated Host under the microscope you wouldn't see Jesus' protoplasm and chromosomes. You'd see bread.

The Church teaches the Real Presence is a sacramental presence not physical presence. There is a change in substance (being or essence), not a change in chemistry. Transubstantiation is therefore a philosophical definition, not a scientific one.

We believe that the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity are present under the appearance of Bread and Wine. The substance of the bread and Wine, is not longer there, but all the accidents right down to the chemical composition remain. In fact, the substance of Christ only remains so long as the accidents remain. When a consecrated Host breaks down in your digestive tract, the substance of Christ no longer remains in the elements, although the person has Communion with Christ.

John

Paul replied:

Raymond,

You would still have an allergic problem with regards to consuming of the sacred Eucharist.
See your pastor about this. Perhaps you can be offered the Sacred Cup instead; for we know the entire Jesus is present in either species of the Eucharist.

Paul

Mary Ann replied:

Raymond,

The substance of the bread becomes the substance of Christ, substance being, in this case,
a philosophic term meaning the "what" of an individual thing.

The accidents of bread remain, and those include are all the physical and chemical properties of the bread so your allergy would remain, because your allergy is to those physical properties.

Mary Ann

Mike replied:

Hi, Raymond —

Thanks for the question.

In addition to what my colleagues have said, this posting should help assist your pastoral needs:

This support group should help as well: Catholic Celiac Society

Mike

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