Church of England vicars are being encouraged to introduce a range of healthy options into the Eucharist. These include lo salt, gluten-free and wholemeal wafers and spritzers, or even grape juice, in place of the more traditional red wine.
Dave Trendy, vicar of Upper Massingham in the Marsh, one of the first parishes to introduce the new options says “We felt, in a very real sense, that we were at a cross roads. We knew we had a product that people wanted but that we somehow needed to make it relevant to today’s busy parishioner. Upper Massingham in the Marsh has a high percentage of aspirational go-getters, many of whose husbands commute daily to high-powered jobs in London. We asked them what they wanted and they told us “yes, we like the whole spirituality thing, yes, we like the excellent school and yes, we like the ready-made support network, but if only Communion were not so heavy.”
So, in response, I’ve come up with Communion Lite. This combines a cut-down sermon of glib, vaguely spiritual-sounding, guilt assuaging phrases with the new healthy Eucharist. It has proved very popular so far, particularly after the excesses of Easter, and my parishioners can be off back to the gym or any of the many local boutiques in about 20 minutes flat. For those who favour a lighter sacrament, I really think it’s hard to beat.
But Father Mulholland at St Saviours Church across the road is dismissive of suggestions that the Catholic Church should move in a similar direction. As you know, we in the Catholic Church take a rather different view of the Eucharist. We believe that our Lord led a healthy outdoor lifestyle, and probably didn’t have a scrap of spare fat on him, particularly after what the Romans did to him. Any suggestion that the Eucharist could be improved is a sin.