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Author Topic: Abstaining from Sex Before Holy Communion?  (Read 331 times)


Hi All,

I am getting married next year and exploring Traditional Catholicism (Tridentine Mass, etc). I read in the Catechism of Trent that married couples are supposed to abstain from sex for a few days before receiving Holy Communion as Mass. This seems like a direct contradiction of St. JPII's Theology of the Body (which says that sex is holy, good, and should be engaged in often as part of the sacrament of marriage). It seems to me that the Trent catechism is making married sex seem like something dirty that you must refrain from in order to purely receive Communion. I'm very confused. Thoughts?


Before I criticize a man, I like to walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when I do criticize him, I'm a mile away and I have his shoes.


Re: Abstaining from Sex Before Holy Communion?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2017, 01:51:pm »
Well we are also supposed to abstain from food before receiving the Eucharist. Does that make eating wrong?

Besides its not strictly necessary to abstain from sex before receiving communion. For example if a person had the custom of receiving communion every day but they were also married, he should continue receiving communion because the merits of communion are greater than the merits of abstinence. If someone only received communion on Sundays then it would be better for them to abstain from sex but its up to the individual because there aren't to my knowledge any laws on the matter.
Surréxit Dóminus vere, Alleluia!


Re: Abstaining from Sex Before Holy Communion?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2017, 01:07:am »
I heard that this question was asked to a priest many years ago. His answer was that you should please do not block the other people in the line for communion as you enjoy yourselves. 


Re: Abstaining from Sex Before Holy Communion?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2017, 09:51:am »
Abstaining from sex before Communion is not required any longer in the Roman Church, but is among the Orthodox and Eastern Catholics who keep the traditional disciplines. It has nothing to do with sex being dirty and everything to do with the august dignity of the Eucharist. This has Old Testament antecedents - Moses commanded all the Israelites to abstain from marital intercourse for three days before receiving the Law (Exodus 19:15), for example. It's part of the reason Roman Rite priests, who generally offer Mass every day, are celibate and continent. In the Russian Orthodox Church, wherein people receive Communion irregularly, abstention from sex is considered part of the multi-day preparation for Communion. Among the Serbs, the faithful are to abstain throughout the fasting periods such as Lent.

But why is this? I think it is primarily that receiving Holy Communion is a fearsome thing; the fact we do it frequently should not lessen our awareness of the seriousness of what we do. It is fearsome because we are coming into contact with Divinity — we are receiving the Incarnate God within us! For this reason we are supposed to set aside earthly things and turn our minds to heaven. Food and sex are the "stuff" of earthly life, and so we set them aside when we approach to eat the Bread from Heaven. Incidentally, this setting aside of earthly life is the rationale for the OT declarations of ritual impurity during women's periods or a man has a nocturnal emission or when a person has skin lesions or is cut and blood flows — blood and other bodily fluids are part of earthly life and not the life of the angels. Some Eastern Churches have a tradition of women abstaining from Communion during their periods, and many monastic traditions require monks to abstain after nocturnal emissions.

I think the Roman tradition has lost sight of a lot of this because we have developed an idea that fasting and abstinence are mere requirements the Church sets up. It certainly seems this way since the penitential discipline of the Roman Church has been steadily eroded since Trent; in that time, Lent required abstaining from meat, eggs, and dairy and fasting Monday through Saturday, which meant one afternoon meal and no other food. Gradually the Church has permitted collations or snacks, dairy and eggs on all days, and meat at least once a day on most days, finally arriving at the virtually non-existent NO penitential discipline. The East generally maintains the traditional disciplines (which are stricter than the traditional Western ones), the Orthodox generally more strictly than the Catholics. The Eastern tradition does not believe the Church can set these aside in any blanket way; instead, the East believes fasting and such to be THE means established by the holy Fathers of our faith to achieve union with God, not mere legal requirements.
Today the faithful celebrate the feast with joy illumined by your coming, O Mother of God. Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to you: "Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection; deliver us from every form of evil by entreating Christ, your Son and our God that He may save our souls."

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