EWTN Catholic Q&A
Fasting before Communion
Question from Maria on 05-19-2013:

I have a 15-year-old non-confirmed son. My husband and I are unclear on the restrictions involving his fasting before receiving Communion. Our son is often in a position where he has to go directly from church to a demanding sporting event. As a competitive athlete, it is important for him to eat his breakfast. As a Catholic family, it is important for us to attend church. Can our son eat before going to church and still receive Communion? How long does he need to have fasted before he receives Communion?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 05-21-2013:


Theoretically, a person can be excused from the Communion fast if fasting before Communion would make him ill. (The length of time one ordinarily fasts is for one hour before Communion, not one hour before Mass.) But before taking advantage of that loophole, I think you should strive to foster in your son and in your family respect for the Eucharist by trying to find other ways to address this problem. Here are a few other possibilities:

One, your family could choose to attend another Mass. If your son is involved in an event right after the Mass you usually attend, go to another Mass either on the Saturday evening before or later in the day on Sunday. That way your son need not worry about whether or not the Communion fast will interfere with his breakfast or his sporting event.

Two, on those occasions when your son must attend Mass right before his event, he could choose to skip Communion. Catholics need not receive Communion at every Mass they attend. Your son could remain in the pew and make a spiritual communion. Or, in parishes that allow for it, he could cross his arms over his chest and enter the Communion line to receive a blessing from the priest or deacon.

Three, your son could pack non-perishable breakfast items to take along with him in the car and eat them on the way from Mass to his event. He could even pack perishable items in a small cooler. Protein bars, handheld fruit, bagels or muffins, and canned, bottled, or boxed drinks are all possibilities.

The most important thing here is that your son and your family take care to remember that one's obligation to respect the Eucharist is of higher importance than sporting events, however competitive.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers