Practical Liturgical Matters

Low-Gluten Hosts

Quite often, the Office of Worship receives inquiries regarding the use of Low Gluten Hosts and what constitutes valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Please note (in number 1 below) that completely gluten free hosts are not valid matter for the Eucharist.

In a letter entitled, “Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences concerning the use of low-gluten altar breads and mustum as matter for the celebration of the Eucharist” from then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on July 24, 2003, the most recent Church teaching on the use of low-gluten hosts (and mustum) can be found.  The full text of the letter can be found at:  The requirements in this letter are stated:

  1. Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.
  2. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.
  3. Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Many people suffer from an immune intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some cannot tolerate the amount of gluten found in the hosts used for Holy Communion. There are three sources where low-gluten hosts can be ordered that have been approved for Roman Catholic liturgical use.

  • The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri ( produce hosts that contain less than 0.01% and you can order them from their website.
  • Parish Crossroads in Zionsville, Indiana ( produces hosts that contain 0.016% and you can order them from their website.
  • Inc produces hosts that contain .002% gluten and you can order them from their website.

The faithful who suffer from Celiac should consult with their doctor regarding the amounts of gluten that would be safe for them. If a person has an intolerance that cannot allow any gluten, even the very small percentage in these hosts, the person should speak with the pastor to make arrangements for the reception of Holy Communion under the species of wine only. It might be necessary for a chalice to be prepared and consecrated separately so that it is not a part of the commingling rite.

Disposal of old Holy Oils

New Holy Oils are given to the parishes throughout a diocese every year after the Chrism Mass.  The hope would be that throughout the year a parish would use all of its Holy Oil and have nothing left over right before the Chrism Mass is celebrated.  Often times, however, a parish has not used all of the holy oil that they have stored throughout the year.  Canon law is very specific on requiring that old oils not be used in the administration of the sacraments after the Chrism Mass.  Canon 847 § 2 requires pastors to “obtain the holy oils form his own bishop…and preserve them diligently with proper care.”[1]  Furthermore, the Book of Blessings states that:

Each year when the bishop blesses the oils and consecrates the chrism, the pastor should see that the old oils are properly disposed of by burning them and that they are replaced by the newly blessed oils.  Burning the old oils may be accomplished by burning them in the Easter Fire at the Easter Vigil Mass.  It is not fitting that the Holy Oils be burned along with trash or other non-religious refuse.[2]

The following should serve as a guide in disposing of Holy Oils.

  1. It is fitting to burn the old Holy Oils.  As seen from the Book of Blessings, one can dispose of the Holy Oils by burning them in the Easter Fire.  Other methods of burning are also acceptable, as long as the Holy Oils are not burned with trash or other non-religious refuse.  One possible solution is to place the oil in your sanctuary lamp, if it burns oil.  If you do this, make sure the ratio is such that the lamp will not go out.  The oils used for the Holy Oils do not burn as well as the oil intended for sanctuary lamps.  Another solution is to buy a sacramental oil burner.  (Meyer-Vogelpohl is one possible supplier which sells sacramental oil burners): )
  2. It is also fitting to bury the unused oils in a sacred place.  The hole dug should be over a foot deep and no oil, or evidence of oil, should be noticeable once the hole is filled in.  The oil will be absorbed into the ground and biodegrade.

Another issue tied to the disposal of Holy Oils is the cleaning of the vessels which held the oil.  This is perhaps the most tricky and messy part of the disposal of Holy oils, and it can only be done once the oils have been properly disposed.  Ambry vessels and old containers should be cleaned with a mild detergent and warm water.  This should be done in such a way that the water can be poured down the sacrarium or placed in the ground (perhaps even the hole the oils were disposed in).  Please note:  if you intend to pour the water mixed with oil down the sacrarium make sure that it is not too thick.  Too much oil can clog the sacrarium.  The vessels can then be wiped out and dried.  The towels, paper or cloth, then must be buried or burned.


Beal, John P., James A. Coriden, and Thomas J. Green. New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law. New York: Paulist Press, 2000.

Catholic Church. Book of Blessings: Approved for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1989.

This article was written by Nathan Chase, MA candidate from St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary as part of a field education experience in the Office of Worship.

[1] Beal, 1029.

[2] Book of Blessings, §1127.

Inclusion of Saint Joseph in the Eucharistic Prayer

Effective immediately, Pope Francis has changed the Latin Edition of the Roman Missal to include the inclusion of Saint Joseph into Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV.  Please click this link to learn more information and to find the English and Spanish translations:  Name of Saint Joseph in the Eucharistic Prayers

Baked Eucharistic Bread Recipe


Eucharistic Bread Recipe

This recipe fulfills the canonical requirements of the Latin rite
and makes one baker’s sheet tray (17×25 inch tray).


• This recipe uses an institutional mixer with bread hook. The process of mixing or kneading the dough is critical. If you don’t have access to an institutional mixer you will need to experiment with the kneading process. I suggest consulting your local bakery for assistance.

• As with baking bread in general, the temperature and humidity in the room will affect the final outcome. You may need to adjust baking time when baking under extreme humid conditions.


• 10 cups whole wheat flour
• 2 cups white flour
• 5 cups warm water (may need 1/2 cup more)
(you may choose to use pure sparkling water such as unflavored Perrier®)


  • Preheat oven to 350û
  • Add all ingredients to mixing bowl
  • Mix for 1 minute on low speed
  • Mix for 6 minutes on 2nd speed
  • Let rest in bowl for 10 minutes
  • Mix for an additional 2 minutes on 2nd speed
  • Remove dough from bowl
  • Let rest on counter for 5 minutes
  • Lightly flour counter
  • Form dough into a rectangle by hand
  • Place baking paper on sheet tray
  • Place dough on papered tray
  • Roll out dough to fill the tray
  • Score the dough with squares about the size of a quarter (dough should be scored about half way through)
  • Brush off excess flour with brush
  • Bake for 10 minutes then turn the tray and bake for an additional 8 minutes
  • Remove from oven and remove paper
  • Allow the bread to cool
  • Divide the bread into six large pieces (about 90 pieces per square)
  • Wrap in air tight baggie