How Are Communion Wafers Made?

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The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ (CCC 1324). It’s importance and centrality to the Catholic Faith cannot be overstated. When the Council of Trent defined the meaning of the Eucharist, it declared that “the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ, is truly, really and substantially contained in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.”

But this mystery is under the “accidents’ or appearance of bread, the work of human hands. What could be a worthy vessel for Our Lord and what are the requirements?

The General Instruction Of The Roman Missal #320 states: “The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat, must be recently made, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened.

In this video, you can see how Comunion Bread is made by Passionist Nuns:

And if you ever feel so inclined to try baking Communion Wafers at home, here is a recipe form the Archdiocese of Los Angeles:

The following recipes fulfill the requirements of the Church for eucharistic bread. These breads are easily broken with very few crumbs. Nine inch round breads are recommended for Sunday Mass.

Ingredients:
 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
 ½ cup unbleached white flour
 1 ¼ cups warm water.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Knead very well for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliable.

Roll the dough out into the desired size and shape, to about ¼ inch thick. Prick around the edge to help prevent the formation of air bubbles. No need to score.

Bake on a not-stick-baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for about 16-17 minutes depending on the size of the breads. Two 9-inch rounds can be obtained from this recipe. Cool and wrap in plastic or foil, or put in a baggie. The bread may then be frozen or refrigerated until needed.

Comments

54 COMMENTS

  1. my son has Celiac Disease and has to be on a Gluten free diet which means Absolutely no wheat, all purpose flour, White flour it damages his intestines and one little crumb can do Alot of damage.. how would he be able to receive it?

      • Many churches have the Low Gluten Communion created by the nuns mentioned on this page already, or are happy to order them and learn how to use them to be safe from cross contamination.

        http://altarbreadsbspa.com/altarbreads/index.php?main_page=page&id=2

        My current parish felt that was not fair and ordered 100% Gluten Free hosts where they order their typical Communion.

        I get it in a Pyx. I am with a priest who I have been with in another Parish years ago when I first found out I had Celiac Disease in 2001 and the low gluten hosts were not an option. So, it was pretty easy for me. My sister had a little harder time explaining to her parish and to get a process in place that worked as they are the only family who needs it.

        While we were the only family that brought it to the attention of our Parishes where we lived, the Parish announced at Mass and in the Bulletin. This allowed others who had not partaken in Communion for many years to begin to again.

        If you hit resistance, go to the Dioceses. If that does not help, find another Parish. We have had no problems at 3 Parishes since 2001.

        I have even traveled with pyx and low gluten host and explained to church prior to Mass. They placed on the Alter and I got at the end of Mass, but at least I had the option 🙂

      • The blood/wine/host has gluten contamination and is not safe for those with Celiac Disease unless they use single serving cups and do not “break the bread=large ceremonial host” over the blood/wine/host

        • The only gluten ‘contaminated’ chalice should only be the main chalice, so the other chalices should be OK I would imagine, as at the fraction, only one chalice imagines used. If fractions of the Sacred host are being placed in every chalice, that would being an abuse, and imagines thus is going on, imaginesfnform your bishop.

    • Gluten Free Does Not Adhere To Canon law, and are not approved for sacramental use. They Do Offer A Low gluten wafer though through the company Cavanaugh altar breads. ….unfortunately, to receive the body of christ he will have to take in some gluten

      • No, not true!

        Nuns in Ohio make “low gluten” that is literally a grain of wheat per batch. Some Conservative Catholic Churches insist that you use the “low gluten hosts.” They are far below the amount of gluten in all “Gluten Free” foods in the US by law. Many other Catholic Churches, like mine, since we have a more loving and open Pope allow the fully 100% Gluten Free Hosts.

        My previous parish allowed these before the nuns began to create the ‘low gluten hosts” as they were my only option and the Priests decided “Not to argue with God who gave me Celiac Disease and who would not want to stop me from the gift of communion”

        The blood/wine/host has gluten contamination and is not safe for those with Celiac Disease unless they use single serving cups and do not “break the bread=large ceremonial host” over the blood/wine/host

    • Just an opinion on those gluten free wafers…. is Our Lord now to be ‘gluten free’ and eventually come in flavors or a choice of wheat or white?? Our belief that simple flour and water wafers TRANSFORM and TRANSUBSTANTIATE into the LIVING SACRED body of our Lord Jesus Christ, should be enough to reassure anyone that no harm can come to them on the consuming of the holy Eucharist. Gluten free? Yes those are offered around here also.. what nonsense.

      • The original communion was not while flour it is now. It was flour of a different time period and different area and era. Plus it was Passover. So, it was probably ground Lentil flour and water mixed, flattened and baked.

        Think the openness of God as he has taught us to be as Chrsitian Catholics.

    • Can he take the wine? You don’t need to take body and blood both, He is One and cannot be divided. I usually just take the body by itself because of health reasons.

      • The blood/wine/host has gluten contamination and is not safe for those with Celiac Disease unless they use single serving cups and do not “break the bread=large ceremonial host” over the blood/wine/host

    • According to catholic theology its only the appearance of bread and wine but the substance is the Body and Blood of Christ after transubstantiation. If its true there would not be any problems.

    • The bread will change from normal bread they have made to to the body of Christ when the priest blesses it. It will not have harm to ur son’s body rather it will heal him. Trust in His body n blood ur son will be fine

    • Many churches have wine with their communion hosts. Bring a medical note from your doctor and see the parish priest or bishop. Child could receive wine rather that the host.

    • I have Celiacs & my perish gives me gluten free communion. Our priest keeps it separate for me so that I do not get a cross contamination reaction

    • There are nuns who do make a gluten free host. Speak with your pastor. You may have to bring them yourself to give him to consecrate on a separate platen during mass. I hope this helps

  2. they should make them Gluten-free my son has celiac disease. what will he do once he makes his first communion. one little piece of crumb from wheat, White flour, does Alot of damages to his intestines that has long term affects.

    • So I have a daughter with Celiac Disease and am Gluten Intolerant myself. There are two options:
      1) just go straight for the cup. The fullness of the Body and Blood are in both species of the Eucharist. If folks are watching, it might cause confusion, but I don’t see it as scandalous.

      2) talk to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, they sell low-gluten hosts that are both approved by the Vatican and approved by the Center for Celiac Research. http://altarbreadsbspa.com/altarbreads/index.php?main_page=page&id=2
      How parishes allow for these vary, but at ours, we have a tray set out at the back of church before Mass. We place the low-gluten hosts in a pyx on the tray, the tray is brought up, placed on the altar, and the hosts are consecrated during Mass. Then they have an Extraordinary Minister who is waiting near the altar at communion. We walk out of line to the altar and wait and they will present the tray to us. We take our pyx, receive communion, and take the empty pyx back to our pew.
      Since I have a bunch of kids, I use method #1 often.

      • I would recommend the #2

        Since others drink from the cup too after getting gluten host and the Large Ceremonial Host is often broken over the cup too, you are getting gluten in quantities large enough to cause damage long term

        The low gluten host actually meet the “Gluten Free criteria for foods in the US as the level is so low. Your church takes all the necessary protections to avoid cross contamination as well. Best way to go! My 100% gluten free hosts my parish uses are served the same way in individual pyx.

        I am extremely sensitive and never reacted to the low-gluten hosts from the nuns, but I have from attempting to take wine in the early stages of diagnosis back in 2001.

    • The host which we receive during the mass is concecrated. You’re receiving the body of christ n not bread anymore. That which gives you life, the body of the one who has concured the world. Receive him with faith n you shall yourself see a miracle in your life that your healed of your disease.
      May the Lord bless you and heal you in Jesus Christ name we pray Amen

      • I have been to the emergency room too many times because of gluten. Intestines swell so severely they press into the diaphragm. The diaphragm then crowds the lungs and heart so much that breathing becomes difficult and the heart skips beats, flutters and struggles. Then the person loses consciousness. Once unconscious they need to be put on a machine because they stop breathing. If no machine is available, someone must guard them and keep shaking them to get them to wake up to breath and fight for life. To those with the problem gluten is literally a poison. Now, if you knew a mistake had been made in the preparation of the hosts and a deadly poison got mixed in with the flour, would you encourage your child or grandchild to take communion once that poisoned host had been consecrated?

  3. Vneri, your son should receive the Eucharist as the Precious Blood alone, and not partake under the form of bread (the Precious Body). All Catholic (and Orthodox) Churches teach that the fullness of the Eucharist is received under either form or both.

  4. It is my understanding that the low-gluten Communion Wafers are still made from wheat, as they are required to be. Since I am sensitive to wheat, I receive Communion in the form of the Precious Blood, alone, as it is still the complete presence of Christ. I did have one Eucharistic Minister of the Precious Blood tell me that I had to go back and “receive Communion” first. I explained that this was Communion. The priest said that he would educate her on the subject, and I haven’t had an issue with it at my church, or any other church, since.

    • The blood/wine/host has gluten contamination and is not safe for those with Celiac Disease unless they use single serving cups and do not “break the bread=large ceremonial host” over the blood/wine/host.

      The low gluten hosts are literally 1 grain of wheat per batch and is in the hundreds of thousands of a percentage of wheat. It meets the legal definition of gluten free in the US.

      My parish allows me to have 100% gluten free hosts since the new Pope though as they do not feel that God would want me to miss out on this gift and that he does not make mistakes so my Celiac Disease is not a mistake and needs to be accommodated.

      • The host is broken only over the priests chalice. It does not get broken over the other six chalices we use for the precious blood for the laity. Just communicate in advance with the celebrant of the Mass.

  5. Gluten free hosts are invalid matter for consecration. A priest knowingly “consecrating” gluten free hosts would and are committing a grave sacrilege(aka commiting a mortal sin). And also not actually consecrating anything, since gluten free are not consider bread(for consecration). Only hosts containing wheat(no rice,potato,etc.) are allowed for valid consecration. *Note-No Consecration, No Sacrament.* People with severe reactions to wheat(gluten) should (before Holy Mass) consult with the Priest and receive only the Precios Blood or an approved low gluten host. As a reminder that the priest co-mingles a partial of the Body(Bread) with the Precious Blood in the Chalice. So they may need to receive from a different chalice that than celebrating priest. People in my own parish have this issue so this is what they have to do. If you’re visiting a parish please consult with the priest. Or if not possible, you can always make a Spiritual Communion.

      • God does not make mistakes, only MAN does. You hare mistaken!

        I have received both 100% gluten free and low gluten hosts for years.

        There is cross contamination with everyone who had used the chalice first. The addition of gluten [if Celiac Disease] and wheat [if a wheat allergy] is added by the individuals who consume first.

        I suggest you get some conversation with your priest to get over you need to judge others. That is not your place. Only God can judge. We are taught to be loving and understanding of our fellow Catholics, somewhere along the way you missed that lesson. The Catholic Church is a church of inclusion not exclusion.

  6. This was an Inspiration, to see the Body of Christ, in the Form of the Host , being made! Thank you, Sister for Sharing this Divine Origin, and your Talent! God Bless All of you!

  7. Let me point out one thing clear. For all these lactose intolerant people. You are receiving the body of Christ. That would cause no harm to anyone. Please think it over and over again. Yiu are receiving the sacred body of Christ. How will the living Christ harm you when you receive him. Please receive communion in faith and no lactose intolerance will cause you harm. We did not have these so called communion with lactose tolerance in the past 50 years ago.

  8. Let’s not diregard d essence of d Eucharist and d tradition of how it is made. The Eucharist heals us irrespective of wat it is made of. Let us see The Eucharist as the body of christ; not a bread made with wheat!

  9. Those with celiac: my prayer for you is very real and deep. Your struggle to find balance and a suitable wafer should be pursued. Please speak with your parish priest about finding a solution. Although it shouldn’t matter how you receive the body of Jesus, I know that it could make you feel very excluded from a sacred blessing. I know many of my celiac friends use low gluten hosts and break them up into smaller doses as to avoid too much gluten at any given time. Your voices will need to be heard before any changes will be made. I do feel that more people will be diagnosed with celiac if we keep changing the genetic makeup of our produce. This issue is not going away. Prayers for you.

    • Thank you. Mary T for your openness and loving response I expect of fellow Christians who happen to also be Catholic.

      I also recommend speaking to the priest or nun [if you are so lucky to still have one] you are closest to in you Parish. My current Parish made the choice to order 100% gluten host over the Low Gluten Host that the Nuns so lovely created for those of us with Celiac Disease. I have had the Low Gluten Host in the past and it does meet the new US requirements for “gluten free” foods in the US and it is recommended as safe for those with Celiac Disease by the most prominent Celiac Disease Dr.s.

      Communion is a huge part of our faith and it is not something that God wishes to exclude those of us who have Celiac Disease or a Wheat Allergy. God made us uniquely different for a purpose, but that purpose was not to exclude us from Communion.

  10. I don’t understand why the church would not approve of gluten-free, if it’s due to health issues. Would God really want people who have celiac, to put themselves out there for possible sickness? Holy Communion should be ALL inclusive. Every one should join in.

    • At my Catholic Church in Texas we use gluten free host for those that are gluten sensitive, they are put in a pyx prior to the mass and then put in the Ciboria on top of the regular host that are brought up to the alter during the offering for the priest to consecrate for communion.

    • It’s not a matter of “allowing”. Sacraments are made valid (possible) by the matter (physical stuff, gestures), the form (words), and the intention (not just practicing or reading, but meaning to act sacramentally) of someone given the power to conduct the sacrament (i.e. A priest for the Eucharist). That’s different from being licit (allowed by Church law).
      In the case of the Eucharist, the matter MUST be bread made of wheat for the sacrament to be valid (for it to actually take place). We cannot change that, even for noble reasons. (As for why, that is a much longer and more involved thing- it brings in the roots and prefigurement of the Eucharist in the Old Testament, the wheat itself- which must die to sprout, the establishment of the Eucharist during the last supper, a bunch of things). If a priest tried to consecrate a bread made with no wheat at all, it wouldn’t work. It would not become Christ. An example of some change in the matter that would be illicit, but would still work, is if a priest in the Latin Rite tried to consecrate leavened bread. It would actually become Christ, but it’s not something that Latin Rite priests are supposed to do.

      As for excluding people from communion, that isn’t what’s happening. With precautions against cross contamination (like recieving first from a special second chalice set aside for that purpose) people with a very serious gluten allergy (who can’t even have low gluten hosts) can still recieve Christ. They aren’t missin out on full communion- Jesus is 100% there Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, even if you recieve only from the cup.

  11. Can I just ask this – okay so the wafers when first taken to the priest are not blessed so they are not “the body of Christ” just wafers – it is only when they are blessed that they become “th ebody of Christ” so what does it mattter if they are gluten free or not or even what they are made from?

    • It becomes the Body of Christ at the point Father says: Take tbis all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body which will be given up for you.

  12. At my Catholic Church in Texas we use gluten free host for those that are gluten sensitive, they are put in a pyx prior to the mass and then put in the Ciboria on top of the regular host that are brought up to the alter during the offering for the priest to consecrate for communion.

  13. This morning i came across gluten free host ! Was like?…body of christ wont harm you whatever the case if you truly believe it is the body ..so the extra mile to ensure it the host doesnt harm the recipient was kinda confusing to me ….

  14. Even though the substance of the bread disappears, so that it is really and truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, the accidents of bread (and of wine) remain. Accidents are not what the thing really IS- but they include color, shape, taste, and yes- digestive effects. Which means that someone with Celiac would normally not be able to safely consume a host (or even a low gluten host if they are VERY sensitive). For that matter, someone with a wine allergy (it exists) would ordinarily have an adverse reaction to receiving under the species (species means “appearance”
    But refers to all the accidents, including those we sense in ways besides vision, like taste or digestive effects) of wine.

    Because hosts must be made with wheat in order for it to be POSSIBLE for them to be consecrated, there are no 100% gluten free hosts. If someone cannot recieve even a low gluten host, they can still recieve under the species of wine. That person would still be receiving all of Christ. Though the wine is symbolically only the precious blood and the bread symbolizes the adorable body, both species ARE the whole of Christ- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. It’s not like parts of Christ have been “split up” into the different elements.

    For someone receiving only under the species of wine because of the gluten allergy, DEFINATELY talk to the priest ahead of time. That way, he can set aside a chalice (before consecration) seperate lay for just you, so that it will get no particles of the host in it (to avoid cross contamination). Then, he can invite you to recieve first (again to avoid contamination from other communicants).
    That’s what gluten free people do in my college chapel- it works nicely. Yes, you do have to speak to the priest- but you need to do that for low-gluten hosts anyways.

  15. Curious, but what happens to the left over bread after the hosts are cut out? Seems like a lot of baked bread is left over and I can’t see them being reused in anything else.

  16. Moving away from the “low-gluten”-“gluten-free” debate:

    9 years ago I lived in a part of the country that had severe flooding. My city was almost cut in two when only one of the bridges over the river was left open. As it was, I was on one side of the river while all the Catholic churches were on the other. There were enough retired priests on my side so that Mass could have been held, but where to get the necessary supplies, if the priests didn’t have any stored up? Could you buy them from any store?

    The wine was easy: any wine made in California that otherwise met the qualifications (at least 8% but no more than 14% alcohol, made only from grapes, i.e., no flavorings including honey or sugar added, and not “fizzy”) is acceptable. That left the wafers.

    Since the wafers are basically matza, if it possible to use matzah that is kosher for Pesau (Passover) that you’d buy from the store? This is a matzo that has nothing else added, including salt.

    FWIW, for kosher matza, no more than 18 minutes can pass from the time the water hits the flour until the dough is put into the oven. This keeps yeast floating in the air from “infecting” the dough, causing it to rise.

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