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Pius XII
Sacram Communionem

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In the early part of 1953 [January 6] We issued the Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus, by which We eased the rigor of the law on the Eucharistic fast so that the faithful could receive Holy Communion more frequently and more easily fulfill the precept of hearing Holy Mass on holy days. For this purpose We granted to local Ordinaries the power to allow the celebration of Mass and distribution of Holy Communion in early evening hours, provided certain conditions be fulfilled.

We lessened the time of fasting to be observed before the celebration of Mass and the reception of Holy Communion in the afternoon to three hours for solid food and to one hour for non-alcoholic liquids.

The Bishops expressed to Us their profound gratitude for these concessions, which had brought abundant fruits, and many of them have insistently asked Us to authorize them to allow daily celebration of Mass in the afternoon hours, in view of the great benefit which the faithful would derive from it.

They have also asked Us to decree that an equal period of fasting be observed prior to the celebration of Mass or the reception of Holy Communion, in the morning hours.

Having taken into consideration the considerable changes which have occurred in working and office hours and in all social life, We deemed it advisable to comply with the insistent requests of the Bishops and have therefore decreed:

1. Ordinaries of places, excluding vicars general who are not in possession of a special mandate, may permit Holy Mass to be celebrated every day after midday, should this be necessary for the spiritual welfare of a considerable number of the faithful.

2. Priests and faithful, before Holy Mass or Holy Communion respectively, must abstain for three hours from solid foods and alcoholic liquids, for one hour from non-alcoholic liquids. Water does not break the fast.

3. From now on, the fast must be observed for the period of time indicated in Number Two, even by those who celebrate or receive Holy Communion at midnight or in the first hours of the day.

4. The infirm, even if not bedridden, may take nonalcoholic liquids and that which is really and properly medicine, either in liquid or solid form, before Mass or Holy Communion without any time limit.

We strongly exhort priests and faithful who are able to do so to observe the old and venerable form of the Eucharistic fast before Mass and Holy Communion. All those who will make use of these concessions must compensate for the good received by becoming shining examples of a Christian life and principally with works of penance and charity.

The dispositions of this Motu Proprio will go into effect on March 25, 1957, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every disposition whatsoever to the contrary is abrogated, even if it is worthy of special mention.

Given at Rome at St. Peter's, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, 1957, the 19th year of Our pontificate.

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