How bad is it to drink black coffee before mass?

OK I just found out that canon law (919.1) states that water and medicine are the sole exceptions to the one-hour fast. I know this is lame, but the morning daily mass can be tough to get through without an “eye-opener” as an addict of a different kind might call it. And yes, I know that a better guy would get up earlier for coffee or break the habit.

So a) is coffee right out and b) how bad would it be to keep drinking it? Is drinking black coffee (0 calories) as bad as, say, eating a donut? Would it constitute unworthy reception of Holy Eucharist, forfeiting grace otherwise received? Can I get away with calling it medicinal? Do priests who have to say early masses ever struggle with this?

If you drink coffee within one hour of Holy Communion, you are obliged to refrain from receiving.

:coffeeread: My understanding is that you may only have water or medicine one hour before you receive Holy Communion. I am not going to sympathize with you. You are not required to attend Daily Mass and it won’t hurt you to refrain from receiving Communion. :sleep: I have fallen asleep during Daily Mass several times because, well, my body just doesn’t understand.

If you get up everyday for Daily Mass you may find it easier to get moving in the morning. I really need coffee. But after Daily Mass.

a) Yes, it is out b) it is not bad, you just are not to take communion if you drink it within a hour of receiving communion. You can call it whatever you want, doesn’t change the fact that coffee is not medicinal. Common man! :wink: I imagine most priests are awake longer than a hour before they have to say a early morning Mass so whether they drink coffee or not is probably not a issue.

For a practical solution to your problem… If you really need a morning fix that badly and you are healthy with no heart problems I recommend taking a 5 hour energy shot when you wake up instead of coffee. It has a cup of coffee worth of caffeine and you feel it work quickly. Lets say mass starts at 6:00am… If you can get up at 5:00am and take the 5 hour energy shot within a few minuets of waking you obviously will be ok for the 1 hour fast rule and you can receive communion. But the 5 hour energy shot can make you jittery no matter what the commercial says so if you are very sensitive, I DO NOT recommend it.

the morning daily mass can be tough to get through without an "eye-opener

Maybe you should read some books about Holy Mass which will be an “eye-opener” for you. I would recommend the chapter on the Mass in Catholicism by Thomas Howard and *If Your Mind Wanders at Mass *also by Thomas Howard. *The Spirit of the Liturgy *by Joseph Ratzinger is a good book also but pitched at a higher level than Dr Howard’s popular level books.

You must be kidding? I drink black coffee every day, and plenty of it, and I have never thought that is a sin. I have a priest comming in the end of the week and I will ask him about this one. I guess smokin a fag before mass (yes, doctors do smoke even though it s far from healthy) is a sin as well. Are there anything we can do that is not a sin?

Why not drink it 65 minutes before Mass?

It doesn’t even have to be ‘before Mass’, just before the usual time of receiving Holy Communion.

By the way, I think it should be made clear that the sin involved is that of disobeying a Church discipline, not of drinking coffee per se.

The Church has imposed this rule for our sakes, you know, so that we are reminded that we need to get our thoughts into line with what we are about to do. If we know we have to refrain from eating and drinking by a certain time, it makes us remember to prepare ourselves spiritually between then and receiving.

I had to smile when someone on another thread referred to the fast as suffering hunger so that we hunger for Holy Communion. Good heavens, don’t most people go at least one hour between one meal and the next? How is doing without food and drink just for one hour before Holy Communion ‘suffering hunger’?

Is the rule 1 hour before Mass or 1 hour before Communion? It seems to me to be before communion.

Our Mass takes about 90 minutes. That means I can eat until the readings begin, and sometimes into the sermon, and still fast for an hour before communion. I always found that hour to be a bit of a farce in a situation like that, because it’s rare to see someone eating during Mass. For those who go to a 60 minute Mass, you’d stop eating 10 minutes before Mass, i.e. when you enter the church. Only for those attending a 30 minute Mass does the 1-hour rule actually result in having to watch the clock, unless you have a 20 minute drive, in which case you stop eating when you get into the car.

What I also find a bit strange is that we must fast before communion, but right after receiving Christ, Mass quickly comes to an end and we have tea and biscuits and chat to all and sundry about the weather and latest news.

You can probably manage to get your cup of coffee in before you get dressed and leave for Mass. If there is more than 1 hour between waking up and communion, it’s fine.

Otherwise you can fast for longer and have your coffee earlier, if the fast is to be more meaningful than fasting for 10 minutes before Mass starts.

Alternatively, put a drawing pin in your shoe and poke your toe into it whenever you feel the need to sleep.

Also worth mentioning is that caffeine is a diuretic. That means your bladder will fill up faster and you’ll be distracted at Mass.

To the OP–I’m with you on the addiction thing. So take a NoDoz or some other caffeine pill instead of drinking coffee (or soda). That’s medicine. No sin. You’ll get the same jolt from a NoDoz that is in one cup of coffee, and it should keep you awake and prevent you from getting a caffeine-withdrawal headache. It may even help you sing along if they do a hymn during your morning Mass! :slight_smile:

This is another one of those situations where knowing all about the Mass and what is happening during the Mass (we are actually present at Calvary for Christ’s crucifixion) is not necessarily going to prevent our human bodies from dozing off. Mass is much quieter and slower than most of our daily lives, and as our adrenalin settles down and stops stimulating us, the body and mind react to the quiet and peace by drifting off. In addition, caffeine addicts may suffer a withdrawal headache–ouch. I see nothing wrong with the OP trying to stay awake and headache-free during the Mass. He/she could just skip it like most people do.

What if you take your caffeine like I do – in a 200mg tablet? Does that count as medicine? :smiley:

(Full disclosure – I usually go to morning Mass when I drive to work, and when I go, I do observe the 1-hour fast before receiving Holy Communion. “Breakfast” for me is a glass of Carnation Breakfast Essentials in milk and my morning meds, including a caff tab, but that is finished long before the beginning of the critical 60 minutes.)

I don’t believe anyone has stated that drinking coffee is a sin.

What has been indicated is that if one drinks coffee less than one hour before Holy Communion, one is obliged to abstain from receiving the Eucharist:

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.

Be sure to ask him about the Eucharistic fast, not drinking coffee in general.

And again, no one has told the OP they cannot drink coffee. Their choices are: drink coffee more than one hour before Holy Communion or abstain from Holy Communion.

I don’t believe anyone has stated this except you.

I would encourage you to pause and reflect about what the OP actually wrote asking about-- breaking the Eucharistic fast. That is a serious matter. One has a choice in when one consumes coffee and one has a choice in refraining from the Eucharist if one has had coffee within an hour before Holy Communion.

It is quite simple.

Nope, absolutely not. There isn’t anything we can do that is not a sin.


Sorry, I couldn’t resist some gentle humor after reading your post. It just reminded me so much of something my children would say when they were younger.

Good one. I find this amusing. Ever heard about this? “Everything we eat, smoke or do, induce cancer to mouses”.

I understand that the matter is far from funny. (And I will ask the priest on friday.) And what makes it not so amusing is a passage from The Holy Bible, it does not hurt if you all read it today, Matt. 5:1-49. Always when I get a bit pompous and to “holy” I lean back in my chair and read that, and it bring me back to the real world. Of course we must obey The Church and of course there must be rules, but this one is one I have never heard before. Let us examine this rule a bit closer. What if we use milk or sugar? What about a person with diabetes? (OK, I know they don’t have to follow the fast rules.) And last, if all this is so strick, why on earth did our parish bought a ash-tray and put it outside the door to the church?

I do my very best to be a good Catholic, I read The Bible and pray the Rosary every day. I pray the Angelus three times every day as well. But that does not make me a good Catholic, to follow the rules is nothing more then following the rules. It is all about what we do “outside” the rules that count. If one always do everything as told to is actually just doing that. If the good intention is missing nothing can replace that. I think this could be a good example, “take one pill three times every day”. Absolutely normal and most of the times it work, but something is missing. What? Compassion. By prescribing remedy we follow “rules”, but what if the person really need one pill four times a day? Or one? Christ did teach us that long prayers and so on is worth nil if the heart is not there. The RCC teach what The Bible tell, but once in a while it happen that the compassion is missing, and where there is no love and understanding, there is nothing. If a cup of [black] coffee make you feel good I don’t think nobody will tell you it is wrong. And this one hour rule. If we look back it is not so long ago only a few rich could buy a watch, so one hour was not so exact then. But I will return with the verdict from a priest on Saturday, let us hear what he says. And guys, I do understand you, I really do, and I can see that you have a strong faith, but sometimes strong is a bit to strong. “Love your neighbour as you love your self”, Christ told us that, and He is never wrong.

Going to Mass is not a sin. Doing adoration is not a sin. But I guess one can do these things in a sinful manner, so technically, you might be right.

OP, thanks for this thread. The Canon is very clear - but I probably would have extended it to mean any liquid that doesn’t have another ingredient added, such as coffee with cream or tea with sugar. Daily Mass here only lasts 1/2 hour so Communion is about 20 min. after it begins, which means no food 60 minutes before that, so my cut-off time is 8:20 a.m. I can’t eat for an hour after taking my medications so if I am up at 6 am I can eat from 7-8:20 am. And I’m not much of a breakfast eater in any case so usually I just have my coffee with cream and then go to Mass. I hope you find a solution to your coffee dilemma.

I think you are making it harder than it has to be. It is pretty clear, pretty simple. You may have water and medicine without breaking the fast. That’s it. No coffee. No milk. No sugar. If you do choose to break the fast, you should refrain from receiving the Eucharist at Mass that day.

Back in the day, the fast used to be much, much longer, so today’s standards are much easier to abide by comparison. My mom used to regularly get lightheaded and Sunday was the day she would get a headache because she wouldn’t eat from dinner time on Saturday until after Mass on Sunday, which was after noon or so (because Mass lasted much longer than the ~60 minute Novus Ordo many attend today).

In any event, water and medicine do not break the one-hour fast, as stated by canon law.

I was just trying to be a little bit humorous. Guess it was very little.


Try the veal. I’ll be here all week.


Maybe this excerpt from a Q&A from the CAF Ask an Apologist forum will aid understanding.

#1 Mar 28, '05, 11:35 am
El Católico

Why is there a fast before Communion?

Why do Catholics have to fast before Communion if Jesus gave the Eucharist at the end of the Last Supper (when they had already eaten the ordinary meal)?

El Católico

#2 Mar 28, '05, 2:31 pm
Michelle Arnold

Re: Why is there a fast before Communion?

First of all, we don’t know precisely at what point during the Last Supper that Jesus gave his disciples Communion. For all we know at this point, it may have been before the ritual Seder meal. But let’s presume, for the sake of argument, that it was after.

The eucharistic fast is a discipline, not a doctrine, of the Church that is meant to help Catholics prepare for the awesome privilege of receiving Christ body, blood, soul, and divinity. As a discipline, it can be modified or abolished. Indeed, just in the last century, the eucharistic fast was significantly modified from several hours to just one.

However, it is likely that the eucharistic fast became an early discipline of the Church, if this passage by the apostle Paul is anything to go by:

For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. … So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another – if any one is hungry, let him eat at home – lest you come together to be condemned. About the other things I will give directions when I come (1 Cor. 11:18-22, 33-34).

Source link with entire Q&A:


I tend toward seriousness but I do get humor, sometimes.



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