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IV Sententiae, d. 8, q.

Concerning the Eucharist
ARTICLE 4: On the Eucharistic fast.
Utrum hoc sacramentum a non jejunis
licite sumi possit.

SUBQUESTION 1:Whether this sacrament may be

licitly received by those who are not fasting.

Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod

hoc sacramentum a non jejunis licite
sumi possit.

Proceeding to the fourth, it seems that this sacrament

may be licitly received by those who are not fasting.

Hoc enim sacramentum a domino in

coena institutum est. Sed Ecclesia
observat ea quae dominus servavit in
sacramentorum traditione, sicut formam
et materiam. Ergo et ritum deberet
servare, ut jam pransis hoc sacramentum

1. For this sacrament was instituted by the Lord during

a supper. But the Church, in handing down the
sacraments, carefully observes what the Lord himself
preserved, such as the form and matter [of the
sacraments]. Therefore the rite, too, ought to be
preserved, such that this sacrament be handed over to
those who have just eaten.

Praeterea, 1 Corinth. 11, 33, dicitur: dum

convenitis ad manducandum, invicem
expectate. Si quis autem esurit, domi
manducet. Loquitur autem de
manducatione corporis Christi. Ergo
postquam aliquis domi manducaverit,
potest in Ecclesia corpus Christi
manducare licite.

2. Further, it says in 1 Corinthians 11:33: "When you

come together to eat, wait for one another. If any one
is hungry, let him eat at home." Now he is speaking [at
first] of the eating of the body of Christ. Therefore after
someone has eaten at home, he may then licitly eat
the Body of Christ in church.

Praeterea, de consecratione, dist. 1

dicitur: sacramenta altaris non nisi a
jejunis hominibus celebrantur, excepto
uno die anniversario, quo coena domini
celebratur. Ergo ad minus illo die potest
aliquis post alios cibos corpus Christi

3. Further, it says in On Consecration, Dist. 1: "The

sacraments of the altar are not celebrated except by
men who are fasting, except on the day on which the
anniversary of the Lord's Supper is celebrated [Holy
Thursday]. Therefore, at least on that day, someone
may consume the Body of Christ after other food.

Sed contra

On the contrary:

est quod dicitur de Consecr., dist. 2:

placuit spiritui sancto in honorem tanti
sacramenti prius in os Christiani
dominicum corpus intrare.

is that which is stated in On Consecration, Dist. 2: "It

pleased the Holy Spirit, in honor of so great a
sacrament, that the Body of the Lord should be first to
enter the Christian's mouth."

Praeterea, hoc sacramentum cum magna Further, this sacrament should be consumed with
reverentia sumendum est. Sed post
great reverence. But a person after eating is not as
cibum non est aliquis ita sobrius et
sober and modest as he was before. Therefore he
modestus sicut ante. Ergo non debet post ought not to consume it after eating.
cibum sumi.
Respondeo dicendum ad primam
quaestionem, quod hoc sacramentum a

It should be said that this sacrament ought to be

received only by those fasting, except on account of a

jejunis tantum percipi debet, nisi propter

necessitatem imminentis mortis, ne
contingat sine viatico ex hac vita transire:
quod oportet in reverentiam tanti
sacramenti, praecipue propter tria
institutum esse. Primo propter ipsam
sanctitatem sacramenti; ut os Christiani,
quo sumendum est, non sit alio cibo
prius imbutum, sed quasi novum et
purum ad perceptionem ejus reservetur.
Secundo propter devotionem quae
exigitur ex parte recipientis, et
attentionem quae ex cibis acceptis
impediri posset, fumis a stomacho ad
caput ascendentibus. Tertio propter
periculum vomitus, vel alicujus

necessity due to imminent death, lest it happen that

someone depart this life without viaticum. It was
appropriate for this to be instituted out of reverence for
so great a sacrament, chiefly for three reasons. First,
on account of the very holiness of the sacrament, so
that the mouth of the Christian, by whom it is
consumed, be not filled up with prior food, but be kept,
as it were, new and pure for its reception. Second, on
account of the devotion that is required on the part of
the recipient, and the attention that might be impeded
by food already taken in, with the fumes rising from
the stomach to the head. Third, on account of the
danger of vomiting or other things like that.

Replies to objections:
Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod forma et 1. To the first, therefore, it should be said that form and
materia sunt servata a domino instituente matter are preserved from the Lord who instituted this
hoc sacramentum quasi essentialia
sacrament in the manner of essentials to the
sacramento; et ideo oportuit quod
sacrament, and thus the Church must retain these
Ecclesia haec retineret. Sed ordinem
things. But the Lord observed an order of consuming
sumendi servavit dominus quasi
that was fitting for the institution of the sacrament,
convenientem institutioni sacramenti;
hence the Church need not preserve it, because it is
unde non oportet quod Ecclesia servet: not necessarily the case that that which befits the
quia non oportet quod illud quod
beginning or generation of some thing remain suited
convenit principio vel generationi
to it when it has attained perfect being; and in like
alicujus rei competat ei quando jam est manner, it need not be the case that what is suited to
in esse perfecto; et similiter quod
a sacrament as regards its institution remain suited to
competit sacramento quantum ad sui
it as regards its [subsequent] use.
institutionem, non oportet quod competat
ei quantum ad suum usum.
Ad secundum dicendum, quod apostolus
non intendit quod fideles post cibos
sumptos domi in Ecclesia corpus Christi
sumant; sed illos redarguit quia hunc
cibum volebant aliis cibis commiscere,
quos in Ecclesia sumebant.

2. To the second, it should be said that the Apostle did

not intend that the faithful, after having eaten food at
home, should then consume the Body of Christ in
church; but rather he argued against them, because
they were wanting to mingle this [regular] food with
the other [sacramental] food that they were consuming
in church.

Ad tertium dicendum, quod forte Ecclesia

aliquo tempore sustinuit in die coenae
sumi corpus Christi post alios cibos in
repraesentationem dominicae coenae;
sed nunc abrogatum est decretum illud
per communem consuetudinem: vel
loquitur quantum ad astantes qui non

3. To the third, it should be said that perhaps the

Church for a certain time sustained the custom of
eating the Body of Christ after other food on Holy
Thursday in representation of the Lord's supper; but
now that ordinance is abrogated by common custom;
or it [i.e., what is found in the text] is said in regard to
assistants [at the liturgy] who are not partaking of the


SUBQUESTION 2: Whether it is the taking of any
food that impedes the reception of this sacrament.

Ulterius. Videtur quod non quaelibet cibi Moreover, it seems that it is not the consumption of
sumptio perceptionem hujus sacramenti any food whatsoever that impedes the reception of
this sacrament.
Quia sumptio cibi et potus in parva
quantitate in nullo sobrietatem diminuit,
immo magis auget naturam confortando.
Sed ideo oportet a jejunis sumi, ut cum
reverentia sumatur et sobrietate. Ergo
non quaelibet sumptio cibi impedit
perceptionem hujus sacramenti.

1. For the consumption of food and drink in small

quantity diminishes sobriety in no way; nay, by
causing strength, it rather promotes nature. But the
reason why the Eucharist should be consumed only
by people who are fasting, is in order that they may
consume [the Body of Christ] with reverence and
sobriety. Therefore it is not any consumption of food
that impedes the reception of this sacrament.

Praeterea, ad perceptionem hujus

sacramenti exigitur quod homo sit
jejunus. Sed quaedam sunt quae non
frangunt jejunium, sicut aqua, et
medicinae quaedam. Ergo videtur quod
post earum sumptionem homo possit hoc
sacramentum percipere.

2. Further, for a man to receive this sacrament it is

required that he be fasting. But there are things that do
not break the fast, such as water and medicine.
Therefore it seems that after consuming them a man
may receive this sacrament.

Praeterea, corpus Christi sicut in os

intrat, ita in ventrem trajicitur. Sed si
aliquae cibi reliquiae in ore remaneant,
et postmodum de mane in ventrem
trajiciantur, non impeditur quis a
sumptione corporis Christi: quia hoc
posset sacerdoti accidere etiam dum est
in ipsa celebratione sacramenti, quando
non deberet a sumptione corporis Christi
desistere. Ergo nec cibus in os missus
debet perceptionem hujus sacramenti
impedire, in parva quantitate sumptus.

3. Further, just as the Body of Christ is received into

the mouth, so too is is transported into the stomach.
But if fragments of other food remain in the mouth, and
afterwards, in the morning, are transported into the
stomach, this does not count as an impediment to
consuming the Body of Christ, because this can
happen to a priest even while he is occupied in the
very celebration of the sacrament, when he ought not
to desist from consuming the Body of Christ.
Therefore neither should food placed into the mouth, if
taken in small quantity, count as an impediment to the
reception of this sacrament.

Sed contra

On the contrary:

est quod ex hoc ipso sacramento

reverentia exhibetur quod prius in os
corpus domini sumitur a Christianis. Sed
quicumque cibus praeponeretur, et in
quacumque quantitate, non esset corpus
domini prius acceptum. Ergo quaelibet
sumptio cibi impedit a perceptione hujus

Reverence is shown to this sacrament by the very fact

that Christians consume the Body of the Lord in their
mouths first [, prior to anything else]. But whatever
food is placed before that, and in whatever quantity,
the Body of the Lord would not be taken first.
Therefore any consumption of food impedes the
reception of this sacrament.

Ad secundam quaestionem dicendum,

quod, sicut dictum est, in reverentiam
sanctitatis hujus sacramenti institutum
est quod os Christiani suscipientis

It should be said that, as was said [before], out of

reverence for the holiness of this sacrament, it was
instituted that the mouth of the Christian receiving the
Body of Christ should approach that consuming as if

corpus Christi quasi novum ad ipsum

sumendum accedat. Quantalibet autem
cibi assumptio hanc auferret novitatem;
et ideo quaelibet cibi sumptio
impedimentum praebet Eucharistiae

new. Now any taking in of food, no matter how much,

removes this newness; and so any consumption of
food whatsoever counts as an impediment to the
consumption of the Eucharist.

Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod legis

praecepta se habent ad ea quae agenda
sunt sicut universalia ad singularia, ut
dicitur in 5 Ethic. Quia enim legislator
non potest ad omnes eventus attendere,
oportet quod ad ea quae in pluribus
accidunt attendens, universalem legem
constituat, ut lex universalis sit. Et quia ut
frequenter per cibum turbatur hominis
discretio et sobrietas, quae praecipue in
hoc sacramento exigitur, ideo
universaliter prohibitum est post cibum
corpus Christi sumi, quamvis aliqua cibi
sumptio non impediat rationem;
praecipue cum nihil periculi accidat, si
post cibum sumptum abstineatur a
perceptione hujus sacramenti, quia in
articulo necessitatis licet sumere post
alios cibos.

1. To the first, therefore, it should be said that

commandments of the law stand to the things that are
to be done as universals to particulars, as is said in
Ethics 5. Now, since the legislator cannot attend to
every outcome, it is necessary that, attending to the
things that happen for the most part, he set up a
universal law so that the law may be universal [in
extent]. And since what a man consumes frequently
disturbs his discretion and sobriety, which qualities
are especially required for [the worthy reception of]
this sacrament, therefore consuming the Body of
Christ after other food, even if the consumption of
some food does not interfere with reason, was
universally prohibited - especially seeing that no harm
befalls if, after partaking of such food, one abstains
from the reception of this sacrament, since, in a case
of true necessity, one is permitted to consume it even
after eating other food.

Ad secundum dicendum, quod duplex

est jejunium; scilicet naturae et
Ecclesiae. Jejunium naturae est quo quis
jejunus dicitur ante cibum sumptum illa
die, etiam si pluries postea comesturus
sit: et quia hoc jejunium dicitur ex
privatione cibi praeassumpti, ideo
quaelibet cibi sumptio hoc jejunium tollit.
Jejunium autem Ecclesiae est quo dicitur
jejunans secundum modum ab Ecclesia
institutum ad carnis afflictionem; et hoc
jejunium manet etiam post unicam
comestionem, nec solvitur nisi per
secundam sumptionem illorum quae in
cibum et refectionem de se consueverunt
assumi; et ideo ea quae propter alios
cibos accipi consueverunt, vel
digerendos, sicut electuaria, vel
deducendos per membra, sicut potus vini
aut aquae, hujusmodi jejunium non
solvunt quamvis etiam aliquo modo
nutriant. Ad debitam ergo sumptionem

2. To the second it should be said that there are two

kinds of fasting, namely of nature and of the Church.
The fasting of nature is that by which someone is said
to be fasting prior to the consumption of food that day,
even if he will eat several times afterwards; and since
this is called "fasting" [simply] from the lack of food
taken beforehand, any consumption of food takes
away this kind of fasting.1 But the fasting of the
Church is that by which someone is said to be fasting
according to the manner instituted by the Church for
the affliction of the flesh; and this fasting remains even
after a singular instance of dining, nor is it dissolved
except by a second consumption of those things that
are customarily taken as food and refreshment; and
therefore those things that are customarily taken [not
as food, but] for the sake of other foods - either things
to help in digesting food, such as electuaries, or to
help the food to pass through to the body's members,
as wine or water is drunk for this purpose - such
things do not dissolve the fast even though they in
some way nourish. Accordingly, for the proper
consumption of the Lord's Body the fasting of the

Replies to objections:

dominici corporis non exigitur jejunium

Ecclesiae, quia etiam praeter dies jejunii
hoc sacramentum celebratur; sed
requiritur jejunium naturae propter
reverentiam sacramenti; et ideo
secundum communem sententiam
electuaria et vinum praeassumpta
impediunt a perceptione Eucharistiae.
Sed de aqua, diversa est opinio. Quidam
enim dicunt, quod quia nullo modo nutrit,
non solvit neque jejunium naturae neque
jejunium Ecclesiae. Sed quamvis aqua
in se non nutriat, tamen commixta nutrit.
In stomacho autem oportet quod aliis
humoribus admisceatur; et ideo in
nutrimentum cedere potest; et propter
hoc alii probabilius et securius dicunt
quod etiam post aquae potum corpus
Christi non sumendum est.

church is not required, because this sacrament is

celebrated even outside of the prescribed days of
fasting, but what is required is the fasting of nature,
out of reverence for the sacrament; and so, according
to the common judgment, electuaries and wine taken
beforehand count as impediments to receiving the

Ad tertium dicendum, quod jejunium

naturae dicitur per privationem actus
comestionis, secundum quod comestio
etiam potionem includit. Comestio autem
principalis dicitur a sumptione exterioris
cibi, quamvis terminetur ad trajectionem
cibi in ventrem, et ulterius ad nutritionem;
et ideo quae interius geruntur sine
exterioris cibi sumptione, non videntur
solvere jejunium naturae, nec impedire
Eucharistiae perceptionem, sicut
deglutitio salivae; et similiter videtur de
his quae intra dentes remanent, et etiam
de eructationibus: tamen propter
reverentiam, nisi necessitas incumbat,
potest sine periculo abstineri.

3. To the third it should be said that the "fasting of

nature" is so called because of the privation of the act
of dining, according to which "dining" includes
drinking, too. Now dining chiefly refers to consumption
of external food, although it has for its goal the
transference of food into the stomach, and beyond
that, the nourishment it affords; and therefore things
that are carried inside, without the consumption of
food from outside, do not seem to dissolve the fasting
of nature, nor to impede the reception of the Eucharist,
e.g., the swallowing of saliva; and it is considered to
be so, likewise, with whatever remains between the
teeth, and even the results of heartburn - although on
account of reverence one can [in such circumstances]
abstain without danger, unless necessity presses.

But concerning water there are various opinions. For

some say that since it does not provide nutriment in
any way, it dissolves neither the fasting of nature nor
the fasting of the Church. But although water does not
provide nutriment in itself, nevertheless mixed [with
other things] it does nourish. In the stomach, however,
it has to be admixed with other humors, and hence it
is capable of yielding nutriment; and on account of
this, others say, with greater probability and security,
that even after drinking water, the Body of Christ
should not be consumed.

SUBQUESTION 3: Whether a man may eat other

food immediately after receiving the Body of
Ulterius. Videtur quod homo non statim
debet comedere post corporis Christi
sumptionem, per hoc quod dicitur de
Consecr., dist. 2: si mane dominica portio
editur, usque ad sextam ministri jejunent
qui eum consumpserunt, et si in tertia vel
quarta hora acceperint, jejunent usque
ad vesperam.

1. Moreover, it seems that a man ought not to dine

immediately after consumption of the Body of Christ,
according to what is said in On Consecration, Dist. 2:
"If the Lord's portion has been eaten in the morning,
the ministers who consumed it fast until Sext; and if
they took it in the third or the fourth hour, they fast until

Praeterea, non minor reverentia

exhibenda est sacramento jam sumpto

2. Further, no less reverence should be shown to the

sacrament once received than was shown in

quam sumendo. Sed ante perceptionem receiving it. But prior to reception there is not to be
non est aliquis cibus sumendus. Ergo
any consumption of food. Therefore neither
nec post, quousque in ventre remaneat. afterwards, as long as it remains in the stomach.
Sed contra

On the contrary:

est contraria consuetudo totius


is the opposite custom of the entire Church.


Ad tertiam quaestionem dicendum, quod To the third it should be said that according to the
secundum consuetudinem Ecclesiae
Church's custom, on account of reverence for so great
propter reverentiam tanti sacramenti, post a sacrament, after its consumption a man ought to
ejus sumptionem homo debet in
spend time in thanksgiving; hence in the Mass, too, a
gratiarum actione persistere; unde etiam prayer of thanksgiving after communion is said, and
in Missa oratio gratiarum actionis post
the priests after the celebration have their special
communionem dicitur, et sacerdotes post prayers for the purpose of thanksgiving; and so it is
celebrationem suas speciales orationes necessary that there be some interval between the
habent ad gratiarum actionem; et ideo
consumption of the Eucharist and that of other food.
oportet esse aliquod intervallum inter
But because a great interval is not required, and that
sumptionem Eucharistiae et aliorum
which is lacking a little seems to be lacking in nothing,
ciborum. Sed quia non requiritur
as is said in Physics 2, therefore it could be conceded
magnum intervallum, et quod parum
in this sense that after the consumption of the
deest, nihil deesse videtur, ut dicitur in 2 Eucharist one may immediately consume other food.
Phys., ideo possemus sub hoc sensu
concedere quod statim potest aliquis
cibos alios sumere post Eucharistiae
Response to the Objections:
Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod illud
decretum loquitur secundum
consuetudinem primitivae Ecclesiae,
quando propter paucitatem ministrorum
rarius Missarum solemnia celebrabantur,
et cum majori praeparatione. Unde
Dionysius narrat de Carpo in suis
epistolis quod nunquam Missam
celebrabat nisi aliqua divina revelatione
prius percepta; et ideo nunc per
contrariam consuetudinem abrogatum

1. To the first therefore it should be said that that

decree is phrased according to the custom of the
primitive Church, when, on account of a dearth of
ministers, solemn Masses were more rarely
celebrated, and [so] with greater preparation. Hence
Dionysius in his letter tells of Carpo that he never
celebrated Mass unless he had received some divine
revelation beforehand; and therefore this is now
abrogated through contrary custom.

Ad secundum dicendum, quod

sacramentum post sui sumptionem,
effectum proprium causat; et ideo oportet
actualiter in ipsa sumptione cor hominis
in devotione persistere: sed post
perceptionem sufficit quod habitu devotio
teneatur, quia non potest semper in actu
esse; et ideo ea quae possunt actum

2. To the second it should be said that the sacrament,

after its consumption, causes its proper effect; and
hence it is necessary that in that consumption [as
such] the heart of man persist actually in devotion; but
after reception it suffices that devotion is maintained
habitually, since it cannot always be in act; and hence
the things that can impede this act [of devotion] are
prohibited rather prior to the consumption of the

impedire, prohibentur magis ante

sumptionem sacramenti quam post.

sacrament than afterwards.

1. Compare the English term "breakfast." (return to text)

Peter Kwasniewski
My thanks to Joseph Bolin for his careful review of an earlier draft of this translation
The Aquinas Translation Project