Three hour Eucharistic fast


#1

A question about when the Eucharistic fast was three hours.

Was there an exception for medication? I know no food and water was allowed, but am not sure whether someone could take their medication within the three hours. I am voluntarily observing this fast, and so, if there is no exception for medication, I’ll just make spiritual communions if I have taken my medication within three hours.


#2

I don’t know whether there was an exception for medication or not. However, since what you are doing is a personal devotion rather than an obligation, you can make an exception for medication if you wish.


#3

No, I believe there was exceptions for Medication and water.


#4

papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12FAST.HTM

We deemed it advisable…and have therefore decreed:

  1. Ordinaries of places, excluding vicars general who are not in possession of a special mandate, may permit Holy Mass to be celebrated every day after midday, should this be necessary for the spiritual welfare of a considerable number of the faithful.
  1. Priests and faithful, before Holy Mass or Holy Communion respectively, must abstain for three hours from solid foods and alcoholic liquids, for one hour from non- alcoholic liquids. Water does not break the fast.
  1. From now on, the fast must be observed for the period of time indicated in Number Two, even by those who celebrate or receive Holy Communion at midnight or in the first hours of the day.
  1. The infirm, even if not bedridden, may take nonalcoholic liquids and that which is really and properly medicine, either in liquid or solid form, before Mass or Holy Communion without any time limit.

#5

As an aside:

According to my Monsignor the reason it was changed from 12 hours to 3 hours and then finally to 1 hour is because worldwide, people kept passing out from low body sugar. Especially when people would eat breakfast after Mass.

God Bless.


#6

Hard to believe, really. Normal people don’t usually pass out from going without food for 12 hours, much less 3 hours.


#7

Well, it really depends on whether your last meal was Dinner or Supper. Dinner is the largest meal of the day. In the old days, many people had Dinner in the afternoon and Supper (a lighter meal) in the evening. This was especially true on farms.

If your last meal was a “supper” around 5PM and you went to mass at 10am, that is 17 hours. While you could wake at 6am and eat breakfast, many still liked to eat after Mass, which is why breakfast is called “Break Fast.”

In today’s society, our last meal of the day is typically the largest one, and it’s becoming more often around 7PM now a days, esp in urban/suburban areas. We also snack much more and do much less physical work. We also have sports drinks, etc; so we can go longer without eating.

God Bless.


#8

I know many, many people who cannot go that long without eating, I among them. I get shaky and have a blinding headache if I do not eat in the morning, and whenever this is brought up in conversation, I’m always surprised by how many people also have a similar reaction.

IIRC, the three-hour rule only applied to masses later in the day. They used to be very infrequent, except for nuptial masses. I never even heard of vigil masses fulfilling the Sunday obligation until I was on my honeymoon and our table mates, who were from another state asked why we didn’t just attend the vigil mass on Saturday rather than chance missing our return flight home by attending the first Mass on Sunday.

When the midnight fast rule was in effect, if you attended an eleven or twelve o’clock mass, chances were pretty good that you would not have eaten for at least thirteen or fourteen hours so it was not unusual to see few people receiving at those masses.


#9

I remember going to Mass at 8 am before going to school and eating breakfast afterward at school. What was your ‘dinner’ but what everyone I knew called ‘supper’ was at 5:30 pm as soon as Dad got home from work at the paper mill. Bed at 7:30 for us. So as kids our fast would be 14.5 hours. Only one person ever passed out that I’m aware of, a classmate who was given a doctor’s prescription not to attend Mass.


#10

I personally am trying to start the three hour fast before Communion, and the few times that I have managed it I didn’t find it hard. :shrug:


#11
  1. Priests and faithful, before Holy Mass or Holy Communion respectively, must abstain for three hours from solid foods and alcoholic liquids, for one hour from non- alcoholic liquids. Water does not break the fast.

I wonder where the idea came from that one must abstain from water, as well as other liquids, like milk. Or was that the rule before the change to the 3 hour fast?

I remember reading pre-Vatican II accounts of tying a washrag over the faucet so no one would accidentally take a drink. My own husband believes he broke his fast before 1st Communion by accidentally drinking some milk (that was in the '40s). He was too embarrassed to say anything at the time.

I suspect it was not being able to eat after midnight that made masses in the wee hours so popular. As well as the midnight Christmas mass. My husband tells me they would feast late on Christmas eve and then go to midnight mass, since the fast started at midnight.


#12

If you trust the memory of a 7-year-old…

I remember my aunt telling me that on her First Communion day she swallowed some toothpaste before Mass and believed she had broken the fast. She received communion anyway and was sure she’d be hit by a lightning bolt during the Mass.


#13

Yes, I did that in the early years of grade school too. I can’t remember whether we brought little cereal boxes from home or got them at school (I’m sort ot thinking we took them from home), but I think the school supplied the little wax cardboard milk cartons to us. We had those little boxes of cereal with the wax paper inside so we could pour milk into them. The sides were perforated so that when we broke through the side of the cardboard box, that was all we needed for a little cardboard box “cereal dish”. Cereal box, milk, and a little spoon of some sort (again, I’m thinking I took a little metal one from home) and we were ready to go. :slight_smile:

My how times have changed! I’m remembering now that we didn’t always have to push in the side of the box with our fingers, but we could use the back of the spoon to push, or else cut them open (cut along the perforations) with a little pocket knife. I remember carrying tiny pocket knives which I never threatened anybody with, and which I used solely for such utilitarian purposes as cutting open those little cardboard boxes. I’m pretty sure the nuns knew we had such things and thought nothing of it. They would only confiscate toys if you were fiddling with them during class.

I think now a little boy or girl with something so “dangerous” as a pocket knife would probably be expelled.


#14

Yes, the fast from midnight included all liquids, including water

I suspect it was not being able to eat after midnight that made masses in the wee hours so popular. As well as the midnight Christmas mass. My husband tells me they would feast late on Christmas eve and then go to midnight mass, since the fast started at midnight.

I don’t know how old your husband is but up until the mid 60s Christmas Eve was a day of fast and abstinence so we didn’t get to feast until after Midnight Mass. That’s probably why the French Canadians had ‘Réveillon’, a party after Midnight Mass, featuring meaty dishes, baked goods, candy (which we rarely saw other than at Christmas, Easter & Halloween), nuts and alcohol.


#15

Every boy I knew in school had a pocket knife. I was sooo jealous, because I wanted one too. At some point the rule became that the knife couldn’t have longer than a 3" blade. Yet nobody stabbed anyone. Today I carry my Leatherman with me in my purse. It comes in very handy. My! What a wacko I must be.


#16

Maybe that is a Canadian thing. My husband grew up here in the US, in Wisconsin. And perhaps it was just a custom of his Polish community. And it was a long time ago - 1940s & '50s. Who knows? :shrug:


#17

If I recall correctly, there was an exception for medication and water.


#18

Regarding what is/is not medication…I wonder how liberally this could be applied.

For example, let’s say someone really wants to go to daily Mass, but has trouble getting out of bed. She drinks some espresso to wake up, less than an hour before reception of Holy Communion.

Would the espresso be considered medicinal in this case? What about in a similar situation, except the person has to walk five miles each way to get to Mass and simply needs the energy.


#19

I’ve carried the same Swiss Army knife in my pocket for decades now. I probably ought to look into getting a leatherman because I suspect that it has better extra little tools.

My! What a wacko I must be.

Well, no. And I know that that was just rhetorical.

Anyway, neither of us is a wacko for just wanting to have a little bit of extra tooling to help us solve the occasional odd little unexpected mechanical problems we may run into. It’s a shame that the schools can’t let kids learn to handle such things from an early age.

Of course, it’s not like they can’t learn it later on, but I think they’re probably “handier” if they learn it early.


#20

Anyone walking 5 miles will not have to worry about the fast.


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