EWTN Catholic Q&A
Fasting before receiving
Question from Pat on 09-06-2013:

On the day a youngster in my family was to receive First Holy Communion, he was sitting with his family waiting for the service to begin. One of the adult members of his family leaned over to him and asked him if he would like a candy. I interrupted and said he was not allowed to take that candy as there was a one-hour rule that he could not take in food one hour before receiving Communion.

I was immediately told by another family member that "they" did away with that rule. The topic has since become a source of family gossip. What is the actual rule?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 09-07-2013:


You are correct: Catholics are supposed to fast from all food and liquid, excepting water and medicine, for one hour before receiving Communion.

That said, your decision to interrupt the conversation between an adult and a child, correcting the adult in front of the child, probably was imprudent. I suspect that the reason that there has been continuing gossip over the matter was not necessarily the rule itself but because of the unfortunate (although possibly inadvertent) humiliation of an adult family member to a child who should be expected to treat him with respect. Frankly, unless you are the child's parent, your statement that the child was "not allowed" to take candy from an adult relative overstepped your bounds.

A better solution might have been to suggest (not order) that the child "save" the candy for after Mass. You needn't have explained why; all that is necessary would be a pleasant remark like "Mass is about to begin. Maybe you might like to save your candy for the party [which usually follows First Communions] later." If the child ate the candy, then all you needed to do would be to make certain that the wrapping was not dropped on the floor and that the child's parents were privately informed at another time so they could refresh the child's memory regarding the Communion fast.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers