Is Canon Law 919 a JOKE???


From the catechism:

Can. 919 §1 Whoever is to receive the blessed Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from all food and drink, with the sole exception of water and medicine.

So basically this means that we are to “fast” just 60 minutes before the reception of communion (I’m not including the medicine exemption).

Assuming that communion is received 45 minutes into the typical 60 minute Mass, does this mean that we can stuff our faces all the way up to a mere 15 minutes before Mass starts? Is this supposed to be a “fast” or is it a joke? No wonder hardly anybody cares or observes this “fast.” :confused:

I think we need to start holding tail-gate parties in church parking lots before Mass. :whistle:


One hour is the minimum. You may fast longer.
I thought all Catholics knew this already. Why is the one hour rule a surprise to you?


This must be obvious to the most pro-Novus Ordo people - one hour is not a fast. Fasting should be compulsory, not an option.

Fasting from midnight may be a little harsh if mass is in the afternoon or evening, but surely the minimum should be at least 3 hours.


Yes it is. But a 60 minute minimum (effectively 15 minutes) hardly qualifies as a fast.

I thought all Catholics knew this already.

That’s a dangerous assumption. Most Catholics with whom I’ve discussed this were clueless about ANY sort of communion fast.

Why is the one hour rule a surprise to you?

It is not a surprise to me, just a joke.


Then why on earth are you worrying about it at this point in time? If you don’t like it then fast longer and more power to you. I always do myself.


Fasting was discussed at the Synod of Bishops. I do not think there will be any change. The more liberal element of our hiearchy will just say-- it would be to stressful for the laity.

  1. Apart from the fore-mentioned pastoral problems, many responses were very encouraging. They call for an awareness of the proper conditions for receiving Holy Communion and the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance, which, preceded by an examination of conscience, prepares the heart, purifying it of sin. To achieve this, the responses mention that the connection between the two sacraments be often treated in homilies.

Some wished that serious thought be given to reverting to the Eucharistic fast practised by the Eastern Churches.41 Fasting relies on self-control which has recourse to the will and leads to the purification of mind and heart. St. Athanasius states: “Do you want to know what fasting does? … it casts out demons and liberates us from evil thoughts; it raises the mind and purifies the heart.”42 The Lenten liturgy calls for the purification of the heart through fasting and silence, as St. Basil recommends.43 Some Lineamenta responses raised the question of the timeliness of returning to the obligation of the three-hour Eucharistic fast.


To me it seems like a good argument could be made for either side of the issue. The way things currently are, potential converts are not scared off by strict fasting rules and yet those who have progressed a little further in this aspect of their faith journey may choose to fast longer.

What I think would be very nice is if more RCIA instructors and parish priests were to instruct the laity on the numerous benefits of fasting!


Are you even Catholic? Your profile does not show any religion.


Until I visited this board, I had always thought the fast was one hour before the start of Mass itself. When I learned that it was an hour before recieving communion I was a little surprised since it would seemto be very easy to observe. The car ride to church coupled with arriving a few minutes early would make it rather difficult to break the fast.


How does that pertain to the Canon Law 919 communion fast issue? :confused:


I am not yet Catholic and I was somehow aware of this rule anyways. I think I must’ve read it in a book somewhere.

I didn’t think a lot of people would take it too seriously, even if they are supposed to. I’ve been singing with in the local Parish’s evening choir since July, and maybe there’s exceptions and stuff but most of the choir seems to rely on Fishermen’s friends to help keep their throats clear for singing - all through the MASS prayers and everything, they get passed and offered around. Plus, after choir practice - and right before the MASS started - we passed around butter cookies maybe about a week before Christmas (the cookies were donated to the choir from some kind soul who like our singing).

I never realized someone would take it seriously, though I can see why it should be and why it would’ve been instigated (I have a Pagan background and that particular faith encouraged rigorous fasting for pretty much everything - I’ll be honest, I suck at starving myself for even one day - I would get to about four o’clock, and then when my brother had his after school snack I’d make up for the missed breakfast and lunch - fasting is hard, requires strength of will and I was reading in the Catechism(sp?) today that in order to recieve the Sacrament of Confirmation, the candidate (or confirmand - are those words interchangeable?) one must be in a state of grace that can be prepared for by, among other requirements, fasting to strengthen the will).

What with the only fifteen minutes before MASS being required, I think maybe that’s a good thing as I know the priest who’s been playing a somewhat major role in my conversion experience and also in my instruction has a habbit of getting his breakfast in between the nine o’clock and the eleven o’clock MASS, and he doesn’t seem to think that there’s anything wrong in doing so.

Saoirse (Elena)


A Catholic will normally want a genuine discussion on a subject whereas an anti-Catholic is usually more intent on making jokes about Catholic teaching.
Why would a Catholic not want to show in their profile that they are Catholic?


Well then, are you Catholic? (I’m not much into looking at profiles.)

Rather than contributing to a “genuine discussion” you have tried to make this personal and have made simplistic generalizations about what Catholics and non-Catholics would or would not supposedly do.

If you don’t want to discuss Canon Law 919 then please move on or start your own thread.


Saoirse - I think you may be in the wrong choir! :rolleyes:

I serve in the music ministry at my parish - all our choirs observe the 1 hour (minimum) fast. Cough drops and water are permitted for the choir members (considered medicinal to most), but not food.

We’d have several members gasp in horror if cookies were passed out right before Mass!:eek:


I am not sure if I understood you right–but a priest who offers Mass more than once on the same day— can have something to eat before the second or third Mass.

Just to be clear–fasting should be taken seriously.

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.


Just to be clear–fasting should be taken seriously.

You hit the issue on the head, WH. I simply fail to see how going without food/drink for 60 minutes (effectively only 15 minutes) constitutes a fast.


What can I say–It is ----what it is. The 1 hr. before Holy Communion is the minimum—anyone who puts his mind to it—can indeed fast for more than that.


what you see or fail to see is irrelevant. The fact is that Canon 919 is a duly promulgated Law of the Church, and you have no right to call it a joke whether you agree with it or not.

If the Church says in its laws that henceforth all Catholics are required to stuff themselves with beef 5 minutes before Mass, then the only correct answer is “Yes, sir!” and obey.
Such attitudes only serve to show how really superficial “piety” is when it doesn’t come with the spirit of obedience. If you want your three hour fast, then fast three hours and offer it up without any holier-than-thou attitudes towards the laws of the Church.

Rome has spoken. One hour minimum. End of story. Stop insulting the authority of the Church.


There is a little wisdom in this canon. Assuming a light meal, most of the stomach contents have entered the small intestine within a half hour after eating. So the Lord does not enter a stomach still stuffed with (ugh) digesting food. For the last hundred years or so the church has been trying to encorage more frequentcommunion. By making the fast much less rigorous, more people are encouraged to receive the Eucharest more frequently (assuming of course that they are in the state of grace) which like longer fasts at other times has a positive impact on their spiritual life. Some folks, depending on their metabolism, can become quite nausious(sic) (spelling problem, not sick) after a fast as short as six or eight hours.When I was a kid and the fast was from midnight feeling sick was not unusual and turned eucharest into something less than edifying. Anyone who choses is always free to fast for as long as they want, but not less than one hour before receiving. Not a big problem.


When supper was ended, he took the cup; again, He gave you thanks and praise … [Eucharistic Prayers I, II, and III]

While they were at supper, He took bread, said the blessing …
[Eucharistic Prayer IV].

I believe if fasting was required, the Lord Himself would not have given His Body and Blood at “supper.” If it was ok for Him, why not for all?

Yes, the OP is using demeaning language that indicates a “holier than thou” antagonism towards the Church. Obviously he does not understand, nor does he wish to … or he would have used more respectful wording in the question.

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