Why do we do that? Catholic Life Explained

September 15, 2021

Question: Why are Catholics required to fast before Communion?

Answer: How we prepare for an important event helps us with the intentionality of our actions and raises our awareness. We prepare our house for guests. We wash our car before an important trip. We create a nursery for a newborn child. All of these actions heighten our senses for what is about to come.

The fast required by canon law before holy Communion has its roots in Jewish spiritual practices. We fast for cleansing and to demonstrate our reliance on God. Catholics used to fast for much longer periods of time, but it was Pope Paul VI in 1964 who set the time at one hour in an attempt to encourage people to receive the holy Eucharist more frequently. That one-hour observance allows us to pause and reflect on what we will participate in in the very near future. We deny our bodies so that we can focus more clearly on the Body of Christ that we will consume.