Is it a sin not to fast before Mass?
#1
I've heard that you're supposed to fast for 3 hours before Mass?  I've also heard that it used to be 12 hours.  With the Novus Ordo Mass, they've shortened it to one hour?  So this is all a bit confusing.  Is it a sin not to fast before Mass?  Thank you in advance.
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#2
It used to be that you fasted from midnight until communion, however this was during a time when everyone had a chance to go to mass early in the morning. Later St. Pope Pius X, changed it to a three hour fast prior to communion, and St. Pope John Paul II changed it to a one hour fast before communion (which some argue is too little, but this is still what it is).

Since there is only one mass, whether celebrated in the traditional or novus ordo rite, this obligation applies to all.

We're invited to fast more than one hour, but this is on a voluntary basis.

Canon Law on the Sacrament of Eucharist.
"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.

§3. The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour."
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#3
You are to abstain from all foods and liquids sans medicine and water for a minimum of 1 hour before receiving Communion...chewing gum or breath mints technically does count as breaking the fast.

It is a sin to receive Holy Communion when having not observed the one-hour fast. Christ is pure and so should your body be when receiving Him. Do you really want Jesus to have to make room with the waffle tacos your had at Taco Bell for breakfast?
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#4
It was actually Pius XII who shortened it to 3 hours in 1957. It is a sin not to observe the fast because one of the precepts of the Church is to observe the rules of fasting and abstinence. It was shortened to 3 hours originally for workers who were obliged to work on Sundays; Pius XII made pastoral provision for Masses to be held on Sunday evenings (Mass had not been permitted to begin after 1pm for centuries) to accommodate workers in a society that had become less Christian. Since they had to work all day and wouldn't be receiving Communion until evening, it was not reasonable to ask them to fast from midnight. Eventually the 3-hour "fast" was extended to anyone who attended the evening liturgies, then to everyone, and then in 1983 it was reduced to 1 hour, which is only a "fast" in a legal sense.

Personally, I think we should strive to keep the traditional midnight fast every time we communicate. It is not that hard to do unless you have a genuine medical need to eat, like blood sugar concerns or pregnancy/nursing. Yes, sometimes you feel hungry - that's called fasting. :LOL: Since I started abstaining even from water from midnight, I have found that it is really not that hard, and it helps prepare me for Communion - it is a work of preparation, and it helps make Communion less "routine" in the bad sense. It is not a sin to not fast from midnight, since the Church only requires the 1 hour, but the traditional practice is without question the midnight fast.
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#5
(07-27-2014, 05:02 PM)aquinas138 Wrote: It was actually Pius XII who shortened it to 3 hours in 1957. It is a sin not to observe the fast because one of the precepts of the Church is to observe the rules of fasting and abstinence. It was shortened to 3 hours originally for workers who were obliged to work on Sundays; Pius XII made pastoral provision for Masses to be held on Sunday evenings (Mass had not been permitted to begin after 1pm for centuries) to accommodate workers in a society that had become less Christian. Since they had to work all day and wouldn't be receiving Communion until evening, it was not reasonable to ask them to fast from midnight. Eventually the 3-hour "fast" was extended to anyone who attended the evening liturgies, then to everyone, and then in 1983 it was reduced to 1 hour, which is only a "fast" in a legal sense.

Personally, I think we should strive to keep the traditional midnight fast every time we communicate. It is not that hard to do unless you have a genuine medical need to eat, like blood sugar concerns or pregnancy/nursing. Yes, sometimes you feel hungry - that's called fasting. :LOL: Since I started abstaining even from water from midnight, I have found that it is really not that hard, and it helps prepare me for Communion - it is a work of preparation, and it helps make Communion less "routine" in the bad sense. It is not a sin to not fast from midnight, since the Church only requires the 1 hour, but the traditional practice is without question the midnight fast.

I say we demand a Catholic society...to Hell with Modernism!!!!
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#6
(07-27-2014, 05:02 PM)aquinas138 Wrote: It was actually Pius XII who shortened it to 3 hours in 1957.

Thank you for the correction.

Quote:It was shortened to 3 hours originally for workers who were obliged to work on Sundays; Pius XII made pastoral provision for Masses to be held on Sunday evenings (Mass had not been permitted to begin after 1pm for centuries) to accommodate workers in a society that had become less Christian. Since they had to work all day and wouldn't be receiving Communion until evening, it was not reasonable to ask them to fast from midnight.

In my country there's another reason for later masses being desirable, namely that the number of Catholic parishing being low. Its a half hour bus ride for me, and a longer one for many of my fellow Christians, and if you want to get there an hour prior to it, then it can get to be a little difficult if the mass is at 8am (though we do have one Sunday mass at that time).

For weekday masses it makes sense to have them in the evening because of the scarcity of masses. And then a midnight fast does not make sense for a lot of people. Technically speaking its possible, but then you'll be fasting most of the time. Reducing it to three hours was a good idea.

Quote:Since I started abstaining even from water from midnight, I have found that it is really not that hard, and it helps prepare me for Communion - it is a work of preparation, and it helps make Communion less "routine" in the bad sense.

Even water is very impressive, though its not proscribed for any kind of fasting, even during Lent. How early are you able to go to mass? And do you do this in accordance with a spiritual advisors directions?
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#7
Fasting before Communion is obligatory under pain of sin. It is probably binding under pain of venial sin in most cases.

However, if you do not receive Communion, you are under no obligation to fast, for while you are obliged to attend Mass each Sunday and Holy Day, you are never under obligation to receive Communion except once a year during the time to make your Easter Duty.

The present law of the Church obliges you to fast from food, alcohol and anything except water or medicinal items for one hour before Communion.

More traditional practices, while laudable, and to be recommended, are not binding under pain of sin, and are no longer obligatory.

So, you should try to keep the most traditional fast from Midnight for a morning Mass if you are able. If this is not possible or is inconvenient, you should try to at least keep the 3 hour fast before Communion. However, you at least must have fasted for an hour before Communion.

If you have failed to do a fast of at least an hour, then you should not receive Communion. If you have fasted at least one hour before Communion, then so long as you are otherwise well-disposed, you should receive Communion.
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#8
(07-27-2014, 06:58 PM)Leonhard Wrote: Even water is very impressive, though its not proscribed for any kind of fasting, even during Lent. How early are you able to go to mass? And do you do this in accordance with a spiritual advisors directions?

I attend the 10am Divine Liturgy at a Byzantine parish, so I take Communion most Sundays around 11:15-11:30 or so. My priest is aware of my efforts to adopt a more Eastern discipline; I am contemplating a change of rite. Though abstaining from water has not been part of Latin praxis for a long time, it is traditional in the East and, though relaxed somewhat among Eastern Catholics, still technically enjoined among the Orthodox, who tend to legislate the maximum and expect that most people will do less, as opposed to Romans who legislate the minimum and expect people to do more - an interesting cultural difference.

I certainly didn't bring it up to call attention to my practice, but just to mention that, for my situation at least, the traditional practice is eminently doable, and I would feel bad about not keeping it since I know I can! I have fasted at least from food for midnight for several years (water is more recent), even when I attended Latin-rite Masses exclusively, and I usually attended a 11:30 or 1pm Mass then, so it's actually gotten a bit easier. :) I try not to be pharisaical; if I'm having a day where not eating would lead to a poor mood with my kids, for instance, I'll eat something early. If I need to take a pill or something, I'll obviously have a bit of water, but I do try to keep exceptions to a minimum and only for necessary situations. But I certainly don't think I'm better than people who "only" do what the Church asks - I'm pretty sure I'm worse than most!
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#9
If it is a sin, do I need to confess it?  Also, if it is a venial sin, it should be absolved by going to Mass, right?  Since receiving the Eucharist absolves you of your venial sins?
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#10
(07-27-2014, 09:35 PM)AllSeasons Wrote: If it is a sin, do I need to confess it?  Also, if it is a venial sin, it should be absolved by going to Mass, right?  Since receiving the Eucharist absolves you of your venial sins?

It might be worth mentioning it at confession, but if you didn't know about the one-hour fast requirement, then you didn't sin by not keeping it. Also, remember that it is one hour before *Communion*, not the start of Mass, so, honestly, if you have any sort of drive at all to get to Mass, unless you're eating as you arrive in the parking lot, you probably haven't broken the rule.
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