Communion Fast?


Yes, exactly. The Church has rules for good reason.

Now, I’m certainly NOT going to tell you to ignore the Communion fast. By no means.

However, I do want to caution you against going too far in the other direction; where the law becomes a thing to be observed for its own sake, rather than the reason why the Church gave the law in the first place.

The purpose of the law is that we be “empty” before receiving the Eucharist. As you probably know, the Communion fast has been shortened over time. So the 1-hour fast is not the same as (perhaps) a medical fast where one might be told to “eat or drink nothing” for 8 or 12 hours. What I’m getting at here is the the emptiness is not complete, but more symbolic—we are hardly starving ourselves by abstaining from food for just one hour. Still, the purpose of the law is a symbolic emptiness. Keep that in mind.

So here’s my take on your situation:
It appears to me that you made the effort to observe the fast. You avoided food for one hour in order to prepare yourself to receive the Bread of Life. If that one hour happened to be a minute or two short of an exact 60 minute, that does not change the fact that you made an honest and good-faith effort to keep the fast. You obviously thought about it ahead of time (or else you would not know what time you finished eating). So you didn’t ignore the law. You did your best to keep the one hour time—in other words, you did not say “I know I have 50 minutes, and I’m going to intentionally keep a 50 minute fast instead of a 1 hour one.”

And please understand, this is not about saying “keep the spirit of the law, not the letter.” No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that one should keep both. Just don’t interpret the letter of the law to be so strict that a mere minute or 2 in the understanding of “an hour” causes anxiety.


Hi Max,

IMO I would definitely bring it up at your next Confession, just because, since the sacrament will strengthen your mindfulness in the future.

When I was a first year newbie Catholic, I ran into the issue once or twice where I would be driving to daily Mass with a black coffee in the car, singing to myself, enjoying nature, and absent-mindedly drinking it. Then I’d receive Communion and it occurred to me 5 minutes afterwards… oops! :slight_smile: So I told myself to confess the sin and resolved to do it no more. It hasn’t happened again since then. It shouldn’t be underestimated how powerful the holy sacrament of Confession can be for weeding out our venial sins & imperfections.

And no, there is zero scrupulosity in checking the watch to want to faithfully observe Our Lord’s wishes, made known through his Church. This has no doubt been done by millions of people over the years, including myself, and I have never suffered scruples in the least.



… for cutting the fast from 7:03 to 8:00 … I would call that scrupulous also :rofl:


Would you feel able to share with us what the priest says? Not that I think you going to confession is necessary for this.
But it would be helpful to have his perspective, if you do mention it in confession…



What, in your opinion, would be the number where it no longer becomes scrupulous or overly-detailed?

You don’t have to answer. This question is more rhetorical than anything.


Having been both a confessor and a professor across these many years, for me it is less an issue of scrupulosity and more an issue of radically misunderstanding the nature of norms which the Church has established – norms which have to be seen and understood in their proper context and according to their proper theological weight as well as the good their establishment by the Church is seeking to achieve.

There are whole categories of people dispensed from the Eucharistic fast. Why? Because reception of the Sacrament is a greater value than the fast to prepare to receive it. It is more important that they receive the Sacrament than either that they fast or that the fact they have not fasted should preclude them from receiving. The fast is set aside therefore.

The mindset of “one hour fast” to mean that 3600 seconds, and none less, must elapse between when food and drink have entered my mouth and when I partake of the Eucharistic elements and that if only 3540 seconds have elapsed, I must refrain from the Sacrament is a mindset very alien to the thought of the Church – as well as, thereby, sound theology.

Thankfully, the approach of the Church today employs a broadness – such as we see with the directives on Lenten fasting that lie ahead for us in the pending 40 days of penance – over the rigidity which marked ages past.

This is because these various norms are at the service of something greater – they are not something that should themselves be a central focus.


This statement is very true.

Never do I encounter that mentality as much as in the season of Lent. People whose Lenten meal that does, in fact, abstain from meat…but consists of dishes that by any measure would be considered delicacy. They were in compliance with the letter of the because they did not include meat but a platter of swordfish and lobster and other haute cuisine are not according to the spirit of the law.


Coffee? I thought the fast only meant food? We can’t drink for an hour before?


@Don_Ruggero, you touch on something here that has always been a huge problem for me.

I work in the food service industry, in an area of the US where the “Friday fish fry” is a big thing. Every restaurant in my city has one, and the competition for who has the “best” is fierce.

The last restaurant I worked for- the meal included the following:
14-16oz piece of haddock- beer battered, breaded or broiled
1/2 pound of potatoes (salt, fried or baked)
tossed salad
rolls & butter
cheesecake for dessert
It was relatively inexpensive (about $13.00 at the time) and since I worked at a pub, dinner also usually included a drink or 2.

So, here are people eating enough food for a family of 3, washing it down with cocktails and calling it a penitential act. Meanwhile, if I eat a piece of leftover meatloaf for dinner on a Friday night in Lent, many here would condemn me to hell for all eternity.

Sometimes the legalistic attitude around here makes me crazy!! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Water only is allowed during the fast.


It appears I have a confession to make soon. I have grabbed energy drinks on my way to daily mass a few times…


You’re fine- you didnt know that it was grave matter. If you want to confess it, you’re fone, but you are not in a state of sin.


Thank you @Maximilian75

By the way some of your posts and threads is what got me involved on CAF. Thought you might like to know that


It isn’t an opinion that you shouldn’t eat meat on Friday. It is a rule of the Church. If people aren’t living the spirit of the law then I would think most people who have a dim view of violating the law of the Church would have the same attitude toward those who don’t keep the spirit.

The challenge of the rules, which may seem arbitrary, is that once something is a rule it can become harder to keep. For instance I try to take cold showers. But as soon as I make it a rule for myself it becomes harder.

Just because others don’t keep a very strict fast doesn’t mean you can’t. If you want try the older fasts or Eastern fast. Then you’d basically be eating a vegan diet with no sugar for all of Lent. I couldn’t myself do it.


Well thank you! That’s great to know.


I understand that it is a rule.
I never said I do not follow the rule.
I have, on occasion slipped, and reached for the first thing I could find after a long day in the kitchen cooking for others.
It is the attitude that was always expressed that boggled my mind. How this type of feasting is compatible with the penitential nature of Lent, but me eating 4 day-day old, cold meatloaf is considered a “sin”.

I understand why, I do- I just think that in today’s world, especially in the US, we kind of miss the boat on the penitental nature of Lent.


Absolutely. Americans are, in general, far too decadent, and do not realize the value of occasionally exercising self control.


I agree. We should do a more penitential Lent.

I wish I could recall which one it is but there is joke in a video by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen about forgotten abstinence from meat. I won’t ruin the joke by trying to recall it.


You won’t know if you don’t try. I believe everyone should try it at least, once. It’s a real challenge. I remember doing it my first Lent and thinking I’d never do it again. I tried the newer way of fasting the next year (less food restrictions) and felt guilty. Every Lent since then, unless I’ve been under a dr’s care, has been the older ones. Today’s are just too easy.


The Church though, allows for exceptions. That forlorn piece of meatloaf is all you have to eat, for instance, because of poverty, or because you’re so bushed after a hard day of work you haven’t the energy left to go out to the store to buy something else. Or your non-Catholic spouse forgets and cooks spaghetti with meat sauce. I would think offering up that it is the best you can do will beat, by a wide margin, someone partaking of a well-lubricated lobster feast.

The law is made for man, and not man for the law. Even the Rule of Saint Benedict tempered its “rules” with exceptions for the sick, or necessity, or the need to carry out hard manual labour.

You’re not alone!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit