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Jesus gave the Eucharist after everybody had eaten, so why do Catholics have to fast before Mass?

Full Question

Jesus gave the Eucharist at the end of the Last Supper after he and the apostles had already eaten a meal, so why do Catholics have to fast before Communion?

Answer

First of all, it is not precisely known at what point during the Last Supper that Jesus gave his disciples Communion. For all that is known at this point, it may have been before the ritual Seder meal. But let’s presume for the sake of argument that it was after. The eucharistic fast is a discipline—not a doctrine—of the Church. It is meant to help Catholics prepare for the awesome privilege of receiving Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity. As a discipline, it can be modified or abolished. Indeed, just in the last century, the eucharistic fast was reduced from several hours to just one.

There is some scriptural evidence that the eucharistic fast may have been an early discipline of the Church. Paul writes this about the practice of eating and drinking during the liturgy:

What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. . . . So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—if any one is hungry, let him eat at home—lest you come together to be condemned (1 Cor. 11:22, 33–34).

 










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22 comments

  1. zante Reply

    A one hour fast is hardly a fast. It takes me that long to get dressed and drive to church. In the Greek Orthodox Church, the fast is for one week with no meat and nothing after midnight on the day before.

    1. Tembea Njia Reply

      I don’t know why people boast about fasting. The disciples didn’t fast at all until the day that Jesus was taken (Mark 2:19-20). But then, on the third day, the bride groom came back.

      1. Jim Reply

        Jesus spoke to the disciples several times about fasting, and there is no proof that they never fasted until after the Ascension. Fasting was a normal part of Jewish life and they did it regularly.

  2. Shellie Pickering Reply

    Because……You have to get really hungry before you will be inclined to ritualistically devour Christ????
    Catholics, listen to me. I am not judging anything about you or your Relationship with God,
    BUT,
    your priest have become Pharisees that teach ritual over relationship,
    IF CHRIST HAD WANTED YOU TO LITERALLY DRINK HIS BLOOD AND EAT HIS BODY, HE WOULD HAVE SLASHED OFF HIS FLESH AND COLLECTED HIS BLOOD IN. A CUP.
    Every time you have Mass you sacrifice Christ again and again! Please stop.
    Pray about it, without a mention of Mary because you want to please God, NOT THE CHURCH (aka MAN).
    I am praying for you in Christ Name, Amen

    1. Mary Bloom Reply

      Shellie Pickering …. “I am not judging anything about you or your Relationship with God,
      BUT,”, it’s the but that makes you judge, especially not knowing anything about our love for the Eucharist. In the Catholic Faith we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, that is a tenent of our faith. During the Consecration at Mass the bread and wine become Jesus wholly and completely, it’s called Transubstantiation. He commanded us at the Last Supper to do this in His memory. He also said that “unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood you will have no life in you” ; He lost many followers that day because they thought like you. We receive him totally under the appearance of bread and wine, but He is completely present in the Holy Eucharist. Also we can not pray about it without considering Mary, since she is the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. the Church is NOT buildings made of stone but the faithful that follow the teachings of Christ and obey the Vicar that Jesus appointed. Also, thank you for praying for us, we all need prayers once in a while, I’ll do the same for you.

      1. Marc St Martin Reply

        Mary Bloom, what a beautiful response. Thank you and we will pray for you and for Shelley. God bless.

    2. Ben Fitton Reply

      My dear friend in Christ, you have been indoctrinated into saying things that you don’t even consider the repercussions of what you’re saying. First off, you’ve not taken the time to understand what Catholicism is or what it teaches. Let me do what little I can. Firstly, we do not and have never taught or believed that we sacrifice Jesus over and over again. That’s ridiculous, since Jesus Christ was sacrificed once and for all for our sins. That’s Catholic doctrine since before the Protestant church existed. But also, my friend, you say you’re not judging our relationship with God, while making fun of it. “You have to get really hungry before you will be inclined to ritualistically devour Christ”, that’s not only misrepresenting us, it’s offensive. It’s attempting to make fun of our beliefs, which is something I would never do to you. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” -1 Thess 5:11. I believe you can worship God and be just as close to him as I am and grow to love him because our common ground is much larger than our differences. But you also must love others. That starts by not ridiculing the most precious thing in the world to them. Now also, why the hang up on Mary? That shows you’ve been taught to have a prejudice against Mary. Even though she was the mother of your savior! I’m not saying you have to pray to her, in fact, that’s not what Catholics do either. We talk to her, we talk to all our departed loved ones in Christ. We are all part of the Body of Christ, and death has been defeated by the blood of Christ. We aren’t separated from them when they’re heaven and we’re on Earth, they are still part of the Body and even more so. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” -James 5:16. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” -1 Timothy 2:1. And who is more righteous than the Holy in Heaven? “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” -Rev 21:27. Only the righteous are in Heaven. Why do you have such a problem communion, meaning communion, my friend? Communion of the Body of Christ. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” -Psalms 133:1. I’ll go one further. Most Catholics, like me, do not mention Mary’s name when they’re talking to God. It’s only because of Anti-Catholic bias that you’d even think that we spend all our time talking to Mary instead of God. And finally, dear friend, pleasing God is the very nature of the Church. It’s what the Christian Church was made for. We are made to work only for what is pleasing in God’s sight. We want the same thing, friend. We only want to work the will of God. If you are a Christian, no matter the denomination, and you are working to please a “church”, then you aren’t really part of the Church. You should only be part of the Church if you truly love and want to serve God fully and with all you have. There is nothing about Catholics who live their faith that would make you think we’re only trying to please the Church. We love God and we want to please Him, to do His will. That’s all. Now dear friend in Christ, let’s put aside the little differences so that we can talk about them and have a real conversation. Let’s learn from each other and stop stumbling on the differences and see the vast amount of common ground we share. We believe in God, our Father, who loves us; that we are His children and family; that Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son died (only once) and rose for us and to save us from our sins and that he sent His Holy Spirit to remain with us and work through us. That’s the basis and grounds of our faith. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s just love each other and help each other on the journey, not get hung up on doctrinal details which maybe we can learn from each other about. Peace, my friend, and I’ll keep you in my prayers. +

    3. Lois Reply

      “IF CHRIST HAD WANTED YOU TO LITERALLY DRINK HIS BLOOD AND EAT HIS BODY, HE WOULD HAVE SLASHED OFF HIS FLESH AND COLLECTED HIS BLOOD IN. A CUP.”
      .
      Dearest Shellie Pickering-
      Perhaps, if He wanted us to literally eat His body and drink His blood, He would have said –
      .
      “I am that bread of life.
      Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
      This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
      I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world.”
      .
      Then folks who think like you would be like –
      .
      “The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh eat?”
      .
      Then He might say –
      .
      “Verily, verily, I say to you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
      .
      Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
      .
      For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
      .
      He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
      .
      As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father:
      .
      so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
      .
      This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.”
      .
      Then those who think like you would be like –
      .
      “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?”
      .
      Then Jesus might be like –
      .
      “When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?”
      .

      Oh, wait, that isn’t what it *might* be like….. That is how it actually went down….. In John 6:48-58, 60-61 KJV
      .
      Or perhaps He would have said
      “take, eat, this is my body.” And “drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
      Like He did in Matthew 26:26, 27 & 28 (also KJV)

      1. nina Reply

        OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE DIFFERENT CHRIST… for our Jesus Christ is not a liar!! Our Christ was the one and only TRUE Christ who was the one who said it on John 6:55….you are referring to a different and fake and liar christ

        1. Lois Reply

          Nina
          I hope you realize that the all caps quote is from a previous poster, I was addressing my response to that. 🙂 I absolutely believe as Jesus said, that in Eucharist I received Him body, blood, soul & divinity. O:-)

    4. nina Reply

      Now YOU sound like a PHARISEE… GREAT NON BELEIVER!!!

    5. nina Reply

      im speaking on my own behalf..if i were to fassd for a week before receiving CHRIST then i cud only go to mass once a week?? well i do go to mass and eager to receive OUR LORD GOD JESUS CHRIST everyDAYeryDay….i guess i dont have a week for that…

      1. Charmeia Reply

        Hello nina,

        I wasn’t sure if you knew, but in the Catholic Church the fast before receiving the Eucharist is only 1 hour, not a full week.
        Hope this clears things up.
        Blessings!

    6. Vicki Sawarin Reply

      Are you smarter then God, to say what Christ should have done? Learn what the sacrament is all about before you criticize God. Jesus has said that unless you receive the Eucharist, you will not enter heaven. Only Catholic priests have the power of Transubstantiation. The Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ. If you truly believe in God & want your soul to go to heaven, follow His teachings. Some Protestant churches have communion, but it is not the Eucharist & will not help you.

    7. Lea Leger Reply

      Read the Bible about judging others, read the parable about the tax collector and the pharisee, you are exactly the same the Pharisee. you judge our faith and you dont even belong to Church that Jesus founded 33 AD and entrusted to his apostles. Who are you to stop us not to pray for Mary? Do you have an authority? Wether you like it or not, Mary is our spiritual mother on earth.. Jesus said to Mary, Mother behold your Son and then Jesus said to the apostle, Behold, this is your mother. Jesus entrusted his mother at the foot of the cross. Read Luke 20 v 38 that holy men and women are as alive today as they were on earth. And living with God in Heaven (the patriarch, apostles and other holy men and women. Rev. 21 v 27. The saints are not among the dead. Mary is heaven with Jesus and she is praying for us.

    8. Tembea Njia Reply

      Actually, that did happen – when he was whipped, nailed, and had a spear thrust in his side. I am not in the Roman branch of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic church – but, in the eucharist, we do partake in his body/blood. How? How do we eat of his flesh and drink of his blood? The would be philosophical explanation of a miracle doesn’t begin to do justice to the wonder – how did water become wine? How did 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish fill 5000 and more bellies, with leftovers? The loaves were not baked each time they were presented to the next hungry mouth, but, the loaves, once baked, were passed around until all were filled.

  3. Gregory Duhon Reply

    Christians in the first century were called cannibals by pagans because they “ate and drank the body and blood of Christ.” I will follow the Christians who learned from the apostles. This is why I’m Catholic.

  4. nina Reply

    GREAT AMEN!!!!! GALATIANS 3:6-7 have FAITH!!! BELEIVE… JOHN 6:55sus the Bread of Life
    …54″He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55″For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56″He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.…

  5. Bernadette Reply

    The original reason for fasting includes:
    Our bodies are temples to house our Triune God and therefore need to be pure. Our souls have the utmost priority to be pure. If our united body & soul are not pure, Jesus Christ can not be present within us to do God’s will. The fast is to cleanse our physical body to receive Jesus, and to mentally prepare and cleanse our minds and souls to receive Jesus and have him truly present within us physically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
    Same principle applies to entering God’s Kingdom- hence Purgatory. No person may be in the presence of our Triune God with any impurity. God is pure. Jesus Christ is pure. The Holy Spirit is pure.
    The only way the Blessed Virgin Mary could have carried Jesus would be if she was absolute purity. Therefore, she is the best role model for all humanity. She is incredible- read her canticle in Luke 1:46-55. Also, the Hail Mary is in Scripture. Please read Luke 1:28-38 and Luke 1:42.

  6. Judy Mate' Reply

    Shelle, Please read John’s 6th chapter. Read it over and over and over, until the words “He who eats my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life”. No one needs to convince you. Only the Holy Spirit can bless you with this and give you the desire. Jesus said “I am the Bread of heaven”. Bless your heart for showing an interest in Jesus’ church: He didn’t write a book, he founded a church: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock Iwill build my church”.

  7. Rose Mowid Reply

    John chapter 3:3
    Verily verily I say unto thee except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    John 14:6
    I am the way the truth and the life no man cometh unto the father but by me.
    Also you should all read the book of James which is the practical faith of the perfect (mature) Christian.
    Revelation 3:20
    “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him…”
    Remember folks we’re not getting to heaven by works or how many times you receive communion or because you fed the hungry. You are only getting to heaven through Christ and that’s with salvation because we are saved by grace. That’s why Christ died on the cross for us. Yes I am happily a former Catholic who decided to convert to only following Christ NOT a religion or rituals BUT God’s way only and I only pray to our Heavenly Father which is how God instructed us to do so.
    Just be obedient to God and love thy neighbor no matter how annoying they get be a light in a dark place and bring all to Salvation…God knows your heart and remember He’s gone before you so there’s nothing you can hide and since we’re ALL His children we’re ALL equal….Keep it real y’all, the end is close very close….God Bless

  8. Nellie Reply

    I stopped reading after the third or fourth comment. You people want to hate on Catholics so much that you don’t really “read” or try to understand. It’s DISCIPLINE!! just like our troops discipline themselves on the way they salute or eat or stand before their commanders. Come on grow up. You don’t see Catholics down grading or bashing any other religions. Stay at peace with yourselves and do what’s right in your heart! We will do the same and pray for those of you that love God. Much you can’t love another.

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