Diversity Trumps The Eucharistic Christ

April 2001

Five-year-old Jennifer Richardson of Natick, Mass., has celiac disease. Therefore she can’t eat wheat. In the Catholic Church the Host must be made of wheat. Is there a problem here as regards Jennifer’s first Communion? Of course not. However, Jennifer’s parents, Doug and Janice, are making a big stink.

The parents insist, according to a news report in the National Catholic Reporter (Feb. 9), that Jennifer receive a host made of rice instead of wheat. But rice is invalid matter. A valid sacrament must have proper form, matter, subject, and minister. Thus, for example, rose petals are invalid matter for Baptism, two males are invalid subjects for Holy Matrimony, a nun is an invalid minister of the Eucharist. So if a priest “baptizes” someone with rose petals instead of water, nothing happens — no Baptism has occurred. Likewise, if a priest “consecrates” a host made of rice, it is not transubstantiated — there is no Real Presence. It’s sheer make-believe.

The Church requires (wheat) bread and wine, not rice and tea, not hamburgers and Coke, because Jesus used bread and wine. Likewise, the Church ordains only males and not females because that’s what Jesus did.

Now, Jennifer can of course receive under the appearance of wine. So the solution is obvious: Jennifer takes from a chalice — and one not “contaminated” by the apparent wheat particles possibly left off by a prior recipent — but she does not receive the Host, which is what the priest quite properly offered. This is merely the reverse of the common practice of receiving the Host but not the chalice.

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New Oxford Notes: April 2001

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