Catholic Dictionary




The abstinence from food and drink for one hour before receiving Holy Communion. Originally this meant complete abstinence even from water and medicine from midnight. Only those receiving viaticum were dispensed from this law. Pope Pius XII in 1953 reduced the fast to complete abstinence from solid food but permission for liquids (except alcohol) up to one hour before Communion. Pope Paul VI in 1964 further reduced the precept to complete abstinence up to one full hour before actually receiving Communion, but allowing water and medicine to be taken any time up to reception of the sacrament. In 1973 the Holy See further reduced the fast to fifteen minutes before Communion for the sick and advanced in age, and for those attending them if the hour's fast would be too difficult.