Friday, 27 June 2008

Bring back the three hour fast before Mass

Regular readers will recall that last week I wrote on minimalism, suggesting the need to restore some of the traditional disciplines like (a real) fast before reception of communion.

Canonist Dr Edward Peters has now set out a good case for bringing back at least the three hour fast before communion, and his article has been picked up by Fr Z.

Why we need fasts

In my previous entry, I questioned firstly whether traditionalists really do follow all of the traditional disciplines such as a longer fast before communion, picking up on a point made by commenter Peter that they certainly don't seem to be turning up at no-longer-holy-days of obligation.

Secondly I suggested that in order to restore fervour in the Church and convert Australia saving the liturgy is a necessary condition - but not sufficient. We also need to look at demanding more of ourselves in terms of a common asceticism. For evangelisation to succeed we need to become a 'higher tension' religion, one that demands significant sacrifices from its adherents. Do read my original piece!

Dr Peters' case

Dr Edward Peters has now made a strong argument for strengthening the Eucharistic fast not on the basis of the communal dimensions of asceticism, but the individual and I do agree that these are important too.

First, a longer fast means that there really is a sense of fasting - both mind and body are prepared for reception of the Eucharist.

Secondly, it removes some of the distractions that can occur at the moment.

Thirdly, it would make the requirement more real, and perhaps therefore more strictly adhered too.

Fourthly it would reduce the pressure to receive at every mass, regardless of worthiness.

And fifthly it could help make it clear that attending Mass has a virtue beyond just receiving communion.

These are all excellent arguments.

So both to support a stronger focus on the Real Presence, and hence to strengthen our sense of worship and community, this could be an important first step in strengthening practice.

Let us hope someone is listening!

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