From a reader:
I’m fairly early in my pregnancy yet, but I’ve been getting sick if I don’t eat regularly — about an hour is my max time before I get queasy. Unfortunately, that’s a little less than how long Mass lasts and the minimum for fasting before Communion. I’m fairly sure I can break the fast because I’m pregnant with morning sickness (right?), but do you (or any readers) have any suggestions for doing it politely? Would I be in danger of causing scandal by stepping out to have a cracker or two, especially when I don’t look obviously pregnant?
Some basics for some of the readers who may not be up to speed.
Latin Church Catholics are bound to fast for 1 hour before reception of Holy Communion, not 1 hour before the beginning of Mass.
We have to be properly disposed to receive Communion. Since we are both soul and body, we have to be disposed in both soul and in body. We are disposed in our souls when we are baptized, in union with the Church, not under a censure, are reasonably sure we are in the state of grace, and believe and are aware of what we are doing. The disposition of body is addressed through the fast.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law says in can 919 §1: “One who is to receive the most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion” However, §3 says that elderly people, those who are ill, and their caretakers are excused from the Eucharistic fast. Of course, in the case of danger of death, the fast obviously doesn’t apply.
Moreover, can. 89 says that priests and deacons cannot dispense someone’s obligation for the Eucharistic fast unless the bishop has expressly granted them to do so. But if you are really feeling ill, the law itself says you are not bound, so you needn’t consult or ask anyone. You are entirely free to make the call yourself.
So, if you are feeling sick, that is, you are ill, then according to can. 919 you are not bound to the Eucharistic fast. You may eat something and still receive.
As to a way to get up discretely and go out for your crackers… hmm… some people do this to have a smoke …. I can’t easily advise you, since I don’t know you or your church. But I should think that sitting in the back, near a door, and at the end of a row might be better than in the center of the front pew beneath the pulpit. Just go quietly.
Also, do avoid the blaze orange chapel veil we were talking about in another answer, unless all the women – or at least quite a few – are also wearing blaze orange chapel veils.
A couple more things.
Having never been pregnant, I cannot speak from experience of morning, but I have from time to time in the morning been ill, nauseous from the flu or other bug during Mass, even as the celebrant, and it has taken some real effort to keep going. I have real sympathy. It is entirely understandable if you really have to go out, but if you can make it through, perhaps you can offer up your suffering for a good intention. I have a couple, if you are looking for something to pray for.
Also, while it sounds as if you can still receive Communion even if within an hour you had eaten something to relieve your illness, it is not obligatory to receive Communion at any Mass. If you are at all concerned about whether you were sufficiently ill to have needed to eat something, etc., you don’t have to go forward if you don’t want to. I think you could. You shouldn’t beat yourself over the head with this or be filled with any anxiety about the choice. Go freely, so long as you are reasonably sure you are in the state of grace, and will keep down for a reasonable time the Host you receive.
I doubt anyone will look at you funny even if you are not yet “showing”. I seriously doubt that anyone will be scandalized by your going out. People have to go out from Mass for all sorts of reasons. And some old hands might figure out why you are going out!
Above all, relax. Mass isn’t the rack.
I am sure the women readers here will have some sage advice about this.