Fasting before reception of Holy Eucharist

I am 68 and will be 69 on August 20 of 2009. I am a cradle Catholic and made my First Communion in 1950-51. I was instructed to fast from midnight and abstain from all food and liquids(including water) prior to reception of the Eucharist. I have people in my parish who tell me now, abstaining from water was never required. This was practiced in my family for years and I remember my mother telling as well that all liquids(water included) and food prior to communion were forbidden at that time. Can anyone verify this for me , please?

The people who told you that likely were never bound by those rules. They were at one time in force, but the discipline now is no food or drink for one hour before reception of Holy Communion, water and medicine excepted.

Yes, your family was correct. I just did a bunch of research about this.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law required that all healthy persons intending to receive the Eucharist had to fast from everything, including water, from midnight onward. There was an exception made for seriously ill people, who could take liquids and medicine only.

In the years after the 1917 code was promulgated, some concessions were made by Pope Pius XII in 1953 and 1957. For instance, as more Mass times were introduced at parishes, the midnight fast was replaced with a 12-hour fast. Also, it was clarified that medicines and water would no longer break the fast.

Source: The Society for Catholic Liturgy

My mother often talked about being at community dances and everyone knew who the Catholics were because they couldn’t even have a drink of water. By the time I received my first communion in 1956 the fast was three hours and water was not included.

lol…I’d probably go home before midnight. Dancing is thirsty work, ya know :wink:

I remember when the rules were changed and water was allowed in the early 50’s. A Passionist priest explained the reason to some of us college students at a retreat at his monastery.

When priests from the monastery filled in at parishes they often went the night before and had dinner at the rectory. For some reason the standard meal seemed to be salt pork. As visiting priest they got the last masses of the morning, usually 10 and 11 am. While the pork was good and it was a treat to sleep late, salt pork and no water for 10 to 12 hours was a real penance.

It was his theory that someone stuck the pope with the 11 am mass and fed him salt pork the night before. The pope immediately declared that water was permitted. :smiley:

His group

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