Fasting before Holy Communion?


Do all ages have to fast before communion?

Do children?

Do the sick?

Do the elderly?



Can. 919 §1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.

§2. A priest who celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist two or three times on the same day can take something before the second or third celebration even if there is less than one hour between them.

§3. The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.



How is elderly defined?



I am a type1 diabetic so I am also exempted from the fast. A dear priest friend gave me a perpetual dispensation.


Does your dear priest friend had been entrusted by the bishop to do that!? No offense, but any kind of dispensation can only be given by the authority of the bishop, or those who the bishop entrusted to give.

The Code of Cannon Law explicitly states:

Can. 88 A local ordinary is able to dispense from diocesan laws and, whenever he judges that it contributes to the good of the faithful, from laws issued by a plenary or provincial council or by the conference of bishops.

Can. 89 A pastor and other presbyters or deacons are not able to dispense from universal and particular law unless this power has been expressly granted to them.

As to the age one must fast:

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.


I didn’t think 1252 refers to the pre-Communion fast, but to the Lenten fast and abstinence rules. The obligation to fast for one hour prior to the receipt of Communion doesn’t expire at age 60.


I’m not sure. I don’t have the book with the interpretation with me. If anyone knows, I’m also curios. Somehow, I vaguely remember that this applies also to the pre-Communion fast. I’m just not sure.


It isn’t. But one can probably apply the canons related to other fasting for what the Church has in mind when it says “elderly”, which is 60.


No, what you posted are the rules for fast and abstinence on days like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (and any other days of fast and abstinence imposed by the conference or your bishop).

The pre-Communion fast applies to all but the sick and elderly. It’s not exactly onerous, if you have a one hour Mass it just means that you don’t eat from around the time you step out of your car to enter the church for Mass.

As for ‘elderly’, I don’t think there are many elderly people who are able to attend Mass who can’t go without eating or drinking for 60 minutes. There are many who are 70-80+ in my parish (not all in the best of health) who don’t see a need to bring their water bottle with them.

OTOH, if the elderly are house bound and the priest or EMHC brings Communion at varying times it would not be reasonable to expect that the person be fasting each and every time. It could mean fasting every day.


A) there is no such thing as a “perpetual dispensation”.

B) a “priest friend” of yours has no authority to issue dispensations. One’s bishop or one’s pastor (with faculties from the bishop) can dispense in specific cases.

C). Many diabetics have no problem with the one hour fast, including my own pastor who is a type 1 diabetic. Of an individual with diabetes has a medical need to forego the fast, then canon919.3 applies to them.


The exception to the rule of not being able to fast for the one hour before Holy Communion is when a person needs to take medications during when the fast would be which need to be taken with food.


Yes he was He also took me through private instruction when I converted This dear priest friend passed away last October and any way if there is a medical issue such as type1 diabetes one is automatically dispensed from the fasting laws I did try to do the fast one year and I ended up being very sick and had to spend a week in the hospital that is when this dear priest gave me a dispensation and told me that because of my diabetic issues that I was exempt from any fast. Let me tell you he was very Orthodox in his thinking.


Well when your blood sugar drops to a certain level you do need to get it back up and any way I was told by our Bishop at the time that the fast was not required for me and my priest friend who took me through private instructions when I converted got permission to give me a dispensation.


I will not pay any attention to those people who feel that they know more about my diabetic issues and the fasting rules more than I do I will do what i need to do to take care of myself because my type 1 isn’t going away I will have it until my life hear on earth ends and the priest that we have now has told me that it is more important to take care of my health rather than worry about any fasting laws that the Church has he has seen me have drop in blood sugar and pass out.


This priest friend was Parochial Vicar at the time.


We are talking about the Communion fast here. You eat during Mass? Because that would really have to be what you’re doing to not observe the 1 hour fast before Communion.


I know exactly what you have to deal with. That is medical necessity so it is acceptable to eat within the hour.


No not unless I feel myself dropping, so then I check my blood sugar very discreetly and eat something like those cheese cracker sandwiches our parish priest is fine with this. I also carry hard candy in my diabetic bag.


Thank you Vico I appreciate your understanding.


And even if they did, it wouldn’t matter, because water is allowed to everyone.


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