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Author Topic: Nursing Mothers, Infants and Small Children Fasting before Communion  (Read 3133 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: January 04, 2010, 12:47:39 AM »

I just have a technical/"legal" type question.  Today my infant nephew was baptized (Glory to God!), and during the liturgy he of course needed to have a feeding as he eats about every two hours.  So anyway, I was just thinking about how children, infants, and mothers who are nursing all need food much more than adults do.  Mothers need plenty of fluids and food to produce breast milk, and infants and small children become inconsolable if they go without food for long periods.

Does the Church even concern itself with requiring nursing mothers, infants and small children with fasting before communion, or is there something "wrong" with children eating before they approach the chalice?

For the record, I don't care at all and am not really concerned about it, I just thought it was an interesting technical question that might have an answer.
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Anastasios
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2010, 12:57:45 AM »

Infants are exempt. Small children are introduced to fasting gradually. I am not sure about the health requirements of nursing mothers, perhaps someone can speak about the advisability or inadvisability of a nursing mother forgoing food for a few hours once a week. I honestly have no idea and have no one in that situation at this time.
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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2010, 01:07:05 AM »

I am not sure about the health requirements of nursing mothers, perhaps someone can speak about the advisability or inadvisability of a nursing mother forgoing food for a few hours once a week.

Well a few (three) hours is no big deal, but the practice I have encountered is at least from midnight the night before, no food or drink of any kind, water included.  So from midnight until the actual reception of communion (around 11:30 AM at my parish), that is almost twelve hours without any food or drink.  This is very dangerous for the mother and the baby, as a mother burns about 500 calories a day on average from breastfeeding.  Without proper hydration, the mother can faint and her milk can dry up.
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Quinault
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2010, 01:59:16 AM »

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20005.msg297433/topicseen.html#msg297433
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Anastasios
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2010, 02:08:50 AM »

Well there you have it. Thanks Quinault.
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2010, 11:34:23 AM »

Most information I've read about caloric requirements for lactating mothers is an extra 300 calories per day on top of your regular daily requirements, so if a woman only needs 1800 calories per day, 2100 would be best to continue healthy breastfeeding.   It's pretty easy to get that extra 300 in, so I don't think it hurts anything to fast for liturgy.  I have noticed that I feel pretty tired and cranky by the time we're finished but part of that is from chasing my two year old daughter around. 

And speaking of her, I tend to give her little snacks during liturgy (preferably outside in the narthex or the bookstore) because she is a bear when she gets hungry and there's no food around.  Her snack time is usually 10:30 am so that just falls in the middle of liturgy.  Eventually she'll be able to go without a snack, but until then I don't see any problem with giving her a handful of Cheerios or a cup of juice.
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2010, 11:48:18 AM »

Common sense must be the order of the day.  My one and a half year old daughter was turned away from communion this summer in Greece because the priest spotted a crumb on her from a snack earlier that morning.  To expect a child of that age to fast is ridiculous.
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2010, 02:53:03 PM »

Common sense must be the order of the day.  My one and a half year old daughter was turned away from communion this summer in Greece because the priest spotted a crumb on her from a snack earlier that morning.  To expect a child of that age to fast is ridiculous.


It may be ridiculous, but remember, Stewie, that it is the priest who makes the judgment call on that.  Why?  Because he will be summoned before the dread judgment seat of Christ and asked if he faithfully distributed the Lamb of God in the Eucharist without harm to himself or the communicant.  Now, I'm not saying that all priests are looking for excuses not to commune someone, but they have a particularly heavy burden to bear.  ANd considering that this priest was not your own parish priest, but a priest in a foreign country, no less, I would just disregard it.
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2010, 05:07:47 PM »

Because he will be summoned before the dread judgment seat of Christ and asked if he faithfully distributed the Lamb of God in the Eucharist without harm to himself or the communicant.

I'd defend the action of the parents feeding the child at the dread judgment, and not out of pride of stubbornness.  But you are right that we shouldn't trouble ourselves with goings-on halfway around the world.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 05:08:35 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2010, 11:29:08 PM »

Our Kh. is a midwife (she delivered our 4th child actually) and one time I was speaking to our priest about how fasting for communion was too hard while I was both nursing and pregnant. Initially he told me to do the best I can. Then apparently he went home and spoke to Kh Martha and she informed him that as long as a woman is nursing and/or pregnant she should never do a complete fast before communion because of health and supply issues. He called me immediately and told me to eat in moderation things that are "lesser" like instead of a whole breakfast spread make due with a piece of toast with some protein and a little juice.

I just had my gallbladder taken out last week. I had to fast from midnight to surgery time at 10 am. I am nursing and to go that long without liquids is nigh on to torture for me. I typically get up at least once a night to drink water and was drinking water up until the last MOMENT before midnight. They had to give me 2-3x the normal amount of fluids because of how dehydrated I was.
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2010, 11:36:29 PM »

Because he will be summoned before the dread judgment seat of Christ and asked if he faithfully distributed the Lamb of God in the Eucharist without harm to himself or the communicant.

I'd defend the action of the parents feeding the child at the dread judgment, and not out of pride of stubbornness.  But you are right that we shouldn't trouble ourselves with goings-on halfway around the world.

I think the point would moreso be that you must speak with your spiritual father before you feed your child when they are to partake. We are responsible for their earthly wellbeing to be sure. But the priest is responsible for their spiritual well being.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 11:37:21 PM by Quinault » Logged
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