Why not fast after mass?


I know that we are taught to fast for at least an hour before receiving the Eucharist, but why not after mass?


Why not fast every other Wednesday at 8:00?

Fasting before Eucharist is traditionally done as a penance and as our preparation to receive Christ. It does not have to be this way, but this is how it is, and it is morally obligatory through the Church’s law. If you break the fast, the sinfulness of it is in disobedience to the Church, not in the action in of itself. If it became law to fast for a period after receiving Eucharist, then it would be sinful to do it.

I believe the motive of fasting before but not necessarily after Eucharist is because prior to receiving Christ, we are doing penance, being reflective, and being forgiven of our venial sins. The sacrament itself, like all sacraments, is a celebration, so after receiving, we are celebratory, so fasting afterwards isn’t as common (however, there are some traditions where this is also done).


I’ve read that after we receive communion, we should wait 10 min. before eating something, until the Host is digested and Christ is not present anymore. Does anyone know if this is true?


Never heard of it.

I’d like to add that I’ve never heard a teaching that the fast before Holy Communion is a penance. I always thought it was a way of calling to mind the enormity of what we are about to do, a reminder to gather one’s thoughts and so not treat receiving in a casual manner.


Never heard of it either.

If that was true, what about all of the coffee and donuts that parishes have after Mass?


Fasting after Mass is a pious practice that seems to be more widespread in the past than it is now. However, it never seemed right to me.

First, it would surely have to be longer than ten minutes. If you ate less than ten minutes after receiving Communion, you would necessarily have to crack open your McDonald’s in the nave, or leave before the final blessing.
Second, the species of the Eucharist is invisible, consumed in your body. We can no longer discern it with our human senses. It seems immaterial how long it takes to digest, because this process is also invisible to us. It doesn’t really make sense to wait a set period of time.

Anyway, for those of us who observe a longer-than-one-hour fast period before Communion, we’re hungry! Let’s eat a donut as soon as we get to the social hall! The Mass is ended - this is the time for feasting, for rejoicing!


Jesus is truly present in us after Holy Communion under the form of bread and wine. As long as the form of bread and wine is there, that is, has not be broken down, Jesus is still present within us.

So it is advised that we wait at least 10 minutes so that the form of bread disappears insuring that the body of Jesus is not longer within us. No one knows for sure just how long the special presence of Jesus remains, and it could vary from person to person, but to respect his presence, we assume about 10 minutes he will no longer be within us in this way. So it is out of our love and respect to him that we do this.

In the past, we were taught to make about a 10 to 15 minute thanksgiving after Holy Communion and many people used to do that. But now so many just leave right after Mass.

BTW, St Teresa of Avilla mentioned that those 15 minutes after Holy Communion are the most beneficial for receiving graces and one of the best times for prayer.

Praise be Jesus Christ.


We are advised, but we have never been required and I am not even sure if this was a widespread practice. It is more or less unheard-of today.

Father Z thinks it is a good practice.


Advised by whom? I am 65 years old, went to Catholic school, and never heard of it, and don’t know anyone who did. I think someone made this up, it makes no biological sense whatsoever. This is not a Church teaching, just someone’s pious practice, and they are perfectly free to practice it, but it is not advised by the Church, and should not be presented as such.


I was brought up to take a sip of water after communion before eating or drinking anything else. Not sure why, but I still do it to this day…


My father once told me that the order of French nuns who taught him in the late '20’s and early '30’s said to drink a glass of milk after Mass “to make a blanket for Baby Jesus.”


thanks for your answers… i guess i didnt really know why we fasted before mass except for the fact that it is a way of honoring Jesus’s body and blood inside of us. I didnt know about the penance aspect. I really appreciate that you all took time to respond.
Thanks a lot:)


Hi me again… Now i have another question… What does it mean that Jesus’s presence goes away? I dont know if i am misunderstanding or what… thanks


When the sacred host is dropped accidently from someone’s mouth and falls on the floor, the host is taken to a small container of water and left there to dissolve. The reason for this is that until it dissolves, the real presence is still under this bread form. And when it has been dissolved, the water is then poured down a special container, usually in the sacrasty, with a pipe leading and empting into the ground below the church.

So the church respects the real presence of Jesus this way, shouldn’t we?

Glory be to Jesus Christ.


There is no requirement to fast after Communion. The Church expects us to fast for one hour before reception. If some, out of pious devotion wish to extend fasting to other periods and times, then that is nice, but not a requirement, and in no way indicates a lack of piety or belief or devotion on the behalf of that person.


Thank you for your response. But if Jesus is truely still present in me and I turn to other matters ignoring him, I don’t judge this to be a good thing to do. If he is gracious enough to be with me, the very least I could do would be to love and be with him for the short time while he is there.

St. Thomas Aquinas said that the dispositions of the person are important to the reception of the blessed sacrament. And that the reason a person does not receive more graces from the reception is their poor disposition. And the reception of him doesn’t stop at reception but also means the time we spend with him.

Our priests of old did make a thanksgiving on the altar after Mass, or in the sacristry when I was an altar boy. And they did it faithfully. And the nuns did the same.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.


Who says that we are turning to other matters and ignoring Him? Who are you to judge others’ piety by what they do or don’t do after receiving Holy Communion?

For me, a treasured memory of childhood is our family breakfast at a Mexican restaurant in Old Town after Mass. Of course we commenced eating much longer than 15 minutes after receiving Holy Communion, but to me it was the pinnacle of the week, a great time to enjoy family togetherness around a table of delicious food. It was a reward for us children after we behaved ourselves nicely in the pew during Mass.

Another fond memory I have is of fellowship over coffee and doughnuts in the parish courtyard. I got to meet fellow parishioners and played with the other children and we were all brought together by food.

As a Christian, fellowship with others is at least as important, and possibly more so, than individual devotion. It is well and good that one spends time in the church in quiet thanksgiving after receiving the Eucharist, but to me it is an even greater gift to share fellowship with parishioners, get to know them, and trade pleasantries before we all jet off to our ordinary weekday lives. The parish is my community center. The people there matter to me. The whole idea of Holy Communion is to bring us together in unity, so you are missing the point if you put up walls around yourself and refuse to interact with the other Christians around you while you’re visiting the church.


Thank you for your nice explanation. But it really isn’t a matter of either/or but both.

It is nice to hear a good story about the love your family has. It is getting to be a rarity.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.


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