Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Isn’t fasting a decision made by a person according to his spiritual level? In the Catholic Church, it is logical that you shall not eat one hour before communion.

In Christianity, fasting is not optional. In the Sermon on the Mount, regarded by Christians as the basis for Christian life, our Lord Jesus Christ emphasized on three points as requisites for living in Him. These are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

In preparing ourselves to partake of the Holy Communion, we need to be fully aware that the Bread of life is not ordinary bread, and the Blood of the Lamb is not an ordinary Cup but are the source of life. Preparation for Holy Communion has to be spiritual and has to do with our inner self. Before partaking of the Holy Communion, we need to examine our life, our values, and advance with a clean conscience that is worthy of the holy Mystery. Prayer is an essential pre-requisite to preparing for Holy Communion. Nothing prepares the soul for receiving Christ as much as sincere prayer, asking God for His forgiveness and thanking Him for all the many blessings and gifts He bestows upon us.

Fasting is both a means of self-discipline and a tangible reminder that one is indeed to receive Christ in Holy Communion. Abstaining from food and drink should precede the receiving of Holy Communion, provided that one also abstains from other pleasures and entertainment, concentrating on prayer and religious and Scripture reading. If we actually believe that the Holy Communion is the Bread of Life, what other food should enter our mouth on that day? Abstaining from food and drink for at least nine hours is to remind us of the nine hours our Lord suffered on Good Friday from 9:00 AM. To 6:00 PM. At the third hour (9:00 AM) Pontius Pilate condemned the Savior to be crucified, then the path to crucifixion began with a long series of tortures, lashing, scourging, mockery etc. after which our Lord was led to be crucified. He suffered the pain of the crucifixion until He gave up His  Spirit at the ninth hour (3:00 PM). Even after his death, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear. Then at the eleventh hour (5:00 PM) He was taken down from the Cross and after having His body anointed with spices, was laid in the tomb at the twelfth hour (6:00 PM). The Scriptures says “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes” (1 Cor 11:26) so before partaking of this Body and Blood and proclaiming His death, we should also remember the great suffering He endured for us and for our salvation.

The night before receiving Holy Communion one should read the Scriptures, retire early, avoiding social engagements that do not glorify the Lord. I want to go further and say that whether preparing to receive Holy Communion or not, we should not eat or drink anything prior to attending the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is our invitation to partake of the Lord's banquet, so why should we eat before receiving the Holy Gift.
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