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How long should last the Eucharistic fast?

The Catechism of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church teaches:

§ 445 — Holy Communion fulfils the Christian participation in Divine Liturgy. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6, 53). Holy Fathers pointed out the necessity of partaking of the Holy Communion during the Liturgy: "Tell me, suppose any one were invited to a feast, and were to wash his hands, and sit down, and be all ready at the table, and after all refuse to partake; is he not insulting the man who invited him? Were it not better for such an one never to have come at all?” (John Chrysostom). The fulfilling of God’s Commandment "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” for Christians means to participate in Divine Liturgy on Sundays and Feastdays. The Church encourages Christians to partake in the Holy Communion as often as possible for their spiritual growth. The apostle St. Paul teaches: "Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11, 28). In preparation for Holy Communion, the faithful examine their consciences and keep the Eucharistic fast. (not official translation)

So, the Faithful should examine their consciences and keep the Eucharistic fast to partake worthily in the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Regarding to the first condition, it means that, when partaking in the Holy Communion, our conscience should be clear; we should to repent before God for our sins and be reconciled with our neighbours. (cf. Catechism of UGCC § 446).

Regarding to the second condition, it is regulated by Canon Law. In the Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches we read that:

§ 62. — Rigorous observation of the Eucharistic fast was a unanimous tradition, even if diversified in its forms, in all the Eastern and Western Churches up until the first reforms undertaken in this area by Pope Pius XII. It expressed and continues to signify the concern for a proper spiritual preparation for receiving the Eucharist, life-giving Bread come down from heaven. In the desire to facilitate access to the Eucharist, such practice has been greatly reduced in the Latin Church. A similar example was followed by many Eastern Catholic Churches, while those non-Catholic maintained their customs, even if perhaps less strictly. The change in the discipline of the Eucharistic fast has contributed to the development of a greater participation in the Eucharist, although it has sometimes contributed to weakening the awareness of the extraordinary value and meaning of the mystery celebrated. Can. 707 § 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches refers legislation in this regard to the particular law. An eventual restoration, at least partial, of the ancient norms for fasting in the Eastern Catholic Churches is valued opportune, taking into account the meaning of both the traditional practice, which does not always exactly coincide with the Latin sensibility, and of the need to correspond with the different conditions of life in the world today.

In 1965 the Synod of Bishops of UGCC headed by His Beatitude Joseph (Slipy) held that:

"Given the current difficult economic conditions and the importance of work in different circumstances in schools, factories, government, and mental exhaustion of modern man, and especially on the difficult pastoral and mission work, and on the other the need to facilitate the partaking of Holy Communion, as required in spiritual life, the Holy Father on November 21, 1964, gave permission to reduce the fast before the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion for one hour.

Taking into account the difficulties of maintaining Eucharistic fast, existing in many countries, the Holy Father cordially listening to the requests of bishops allowed so that Eucharistic fast, relatively foods was limited to one hour before accepting the Holy Communion, for both priests and the faithful. This likewise holds for consumption of alcoholic drinks within an acceptable limit”. (not official translation)

The Particular Law of UGCC says:

Can. 93. — Concerning the preparation for participation in the Holy Eucharist through fast, prayers and other works, the faithful are to observe the norms of the liturgical books and to fast at least one hour prior to Holy Communion. Water and medicine taken prior to Holy Communion does not break the fast.

So, summarizing we can say that the minimum duration of the Eucharistic fast should be one hour before receiving Holy Communion. If someone needs to take medicines or drink water - it does not break the fast. If anyone wants to fast more than an hour, you can do it.

Category: Ask the priest | Added by: abat (2013-09-14)
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