One Hour Fast

Hello all,

Quick question- I realize that one must fast for an hour before Mass. However, is this one hour before the service begins, or one hour before partaking of the Eucharist?

i.e. Mass starts at 5:30, at 4:45 someone eats a cookie. One hour elapses between this moment and the time when the person receives the Eucharist (since this occurs after 5:45, the hour mark), but has not elapsed before the person enters the church and listens to the liturgy of the word. Has the person sinned, or not?


You must fast one hour before receiving the Holy Eucharist; but really, are you starving? :frowning:

Do you really need a cookie five minutes before you go to Mass?


We must fast an hour before receiving the Eucharist. I personally do it an hour before Mass if I attend later than lunch time. If I attend a Sunday Morning Mass I break my fast with the Eucharist. That’s my preference.A pious practice by many peope but not required.
Canon Law requires:
Can. 919 ß1 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.

If you break the fast then you just shouldn’t recieve the Eucharist. We aren’t required to receive at every Mass. No sin involved if it was just an accident as in you forgot the time. If it is done intentionally with reception of communion then that is another story. That would be a sin and I would confess it if it were me.

No, I don’t need that cookie! I’ve found myself in this situation though (I’m a new Catholic and have to think about the things that come easily to so many who were born Catholic, like the one hour fast, genuflection.) So, I just wanted to double check.

Thank you!

I’ve never broken the fast (I never eat within an hour of receiving the Eucharist). I do think it is a better idea to not eat for the hour before attending Mass. I’m usually good about that, but I have forgotten about the time before.

Sorry, didn’t mean to be so hypercritical. :blush:

I am used to fasting from midnight as we did in the “olden” days. :shrug:


Oh, you’re fine :slight_smile:

I appreciate all of the people who have been around longer than me, otherwise how would I learn everything I needed to know? I wouldn’t ask my age group, that’s for sure :stuck_out_tongue:

They have cookies for us afterwards when I attend Mass at college, so I can handle waiting :wink:

The fast is one hour before receiving communion, not before mass.

The fast is required even if someone is receiving communion outside of mass- and is not required if someone is assisting at mass but not receiving communion.

While the fast is from the moment of reception of Holy Communion, the present one-hour fast is not much a discipline. The typical person is not hungry after one hour, and part of fasting is hunger. I strongly advocate fasting for more than an hour. At the time of Vatican II, the fast was three hours, and before then, it was from midnight. Try it.

Note that there are exceptions for those who are ill, which is often the case for those receiving outside of mass…

Yes, I have read this before. Today it was close to 2.5 hours between the last time I ate and Holy Communion, so I will try for 3 hours. I probably won’t try going from midnight unless I go on Sunday morning; I tend to go to Mass in the evening, and while I could go 16 hours without food, it might be a bad idea.

japhy, you are right when you say that part of fasting is hunger; that was always the way the good Sisters explained fasting when I was a child. Hence, the midnight bit; but, in those days we always went to Mass in the morning. I don’t remember there being evening Mass before V2. :confused:

Refresh me if I am wrong about that.

surfgirlusa, you are also correct when you say that fasting from midnight is not such a good idea when you attend Mass in the evening - say a Vigil Mass. When I attend Mass in the evening I fast for three hours and eat supper when I return home.


Until i came down with diabetes a few years ago, that was my custom.

For Roman Catholics and Ruthenian Catholics, 1 hour before reception, but one hour before liturgy is recommended, and from the night before is still “commendable practice.”

Other Eastern Catholic Churches vary. Some are 3 hours, some are from vespers the night before, or from noon for a vigil liturgy.

Although one hour is specified, some get their dander up if one “fasts” for, say, 57 minutes instead of 60. :shrug: Overly legalistic, methinks.

On the other hand, St. Paul corrects Eucharistic abuses by the Christians in Corinth (I Corinthians 17-33). While the discussion in this thread isn’t about the same abuses, it’s clear that the Eucharistic meal isn’t meant to satisfy bodily hunger, rather spiritual.

Seems to me that fasting to the point of hunger is contrary to what Paul, in part, was trying to correct (admittedly I’m extrapolating a bit ;)). One hour shouldn’t be a big deal for most everyone, except perhaps some with medical conditions that require taking in frequent nutrition or medication with food, which methinks almost always shouldn’t impinge on a one-hour fast. Similarly, fasting to the point of hunger isn’t consistant with what the Eucharist is all about.

I don’t think that fasting to the point of feeling hungry is contrary to what St. Paul was teaching. What follows is my own take on the matter:
Why do we fast before receiving Communion? In St. Paul’s first letter to the Church in Corinth, he admonished some of them for eating and drinking (and getting drunk) when they assembled for worship, while others were going hungry. (cf. 1 Cor. 11:20-21) Avoiding normal food before receiving Communion helps to remind us just what it is we are receiving in this sacrament, and to approach the Eucharist with proper reverence. St. Justin Martyr, writing to the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar in the second century, explained that “not as common bread and common drink do we receive” the Eucharist, but that it is “the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” (Apology I, 66)

Fasting is also a traditional Christian mortification (a discipline of bodily self-denial). Mortifications serve to subject our bodily desires to our spiritual needs. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians “I pommel my body and subdue it,” because he was aware that his bodily urges could jeopardize his spiritual well-being. (1 Cor. 9:27) Fasting was practiced by numerous figures in the Bible – such as Moses, Elijah, and Jesus – to prepare themselves for what was to come. By putting aside our corporal need for food and drink – especially if we fast for more than just an hour before receiving Communion – we can use our bodies’ natural reaction of hunger to stir up in our souls the spiritual hunger we should have for our spiritual food, the Body and Blood of our Lord.

Consider the words of the Our Father, “give us this day our daily bread.” How can your body’s physical reaction to fasting inform you of your spiritual dependence on God for all your needs, both spiritual and physical?

I guess that I should rephrase my thoughts:

The point of fasting before receiving the Eucharist is not to fast to the point of being hungry, since the Eucharistic meal is not meant to abate physical hunger.

I think we’re on the same page, japhy. :thumbsup:

I have seen people chewing gum,before communion.Isn’t this practice a break from fast?

Technically, only if they swallow it. But honestly, unless you have a medical condition that requires constant stimulation of the salivary glands (i.e. chewing something!), why would you chew gum at Mass? It’s not a question of fasting so much as it is a matter of decent manners!

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