From a reader…
At Mass on the Assumption, the lady carrying the hosts for the offertory was unable to carry the container level (appeared to have Parkinson’s and was shaking) and dropped several on the floor. The deacon noticed, and picked up the dropped hosts (unconsecrated) and consumed them. Did this not break his fast?
First, if her hands shook to that extent, it might have been kinder not to make her carry something. Getting people involved often involves a lot of sentimentality. But that’s not the primary point here.
If, at the offertory, the deacon consumed unconsecrated hosts that had fallen, then, YES, he broke his Eucharistic fast.
It might have been a simple, thoughtless reflex action. See host on floor. Pick up. Consume!
Of course it should have been obvious that they weren’t yet consecrated.
Also, remember that the law requires a fast of one hour before Communion. I doubt that an hour would then pass between that moment and the time of Communion. It might have seemed like an hour, depending on what they did in that church. But if an hour did pass, then he was alright to receive at that Mass.
Perhaps the deacon then did not receive Communion at that Mass. But he probably did. It seems these days that there is a kind of maniacal need to receive Communion at every Mass, such that people who know they shouldn’t go, go to Communion anyway. However, sadly for many in many places, Communion time has become that moment when they put the white thing in your hand and then you sing the song. But I digress.
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”
Moreover, §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.
However, those don’t apply to this deacon.
Additionally, 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. Of course even if they did have that faculty, they can’t dispense themselves.
Yes, he broke his Eucharistic fast.