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I know they are not allowed to consume anything but water and medicine during the hour before they take communion.

In addition to the fasts mentioned above, Roman Catholics must also observe the Eucharistic Fast, which involves taking nothing but water and medicines into the body for some time before receiving the Eucharist. - Eucharistic Fast (Wikipedia)

But my question is: Is coconut water considered water? Or does it have to be pure Dihydrogen Monoxide?

  • @Ken Graham: Coconut water does have calories. But were you able to find an official pronouncement from the Catholic Church that says you can't have "calories" during the hour before communion? I'm just curious where you're getting that from. – 7MessRobHackOpen Jan 20 at 21:34
  • @Ken Graham: Interesting. So chances are that coconut water is not permitted, but you cannot find any sources? I'm surprised that the Catholic Church has not directly addressed this issue. We'll just have to wait and see if anyone answers with more info (if there is any) – 7MessRobHackOpen Jan 21 at 12:57
  • First of all: The canon law knows a lot of rules. I remember that the rule you are talking about was followed by a lot of Catholics when I was young (in the 1980s/1990s); however today this rule (and a lot of others) is not followed by many Catholics - even by the ones who followed that rule in the 1990s. (I cannot speak about the whole world but only about the region where I live.) – Martin Rosenau Jan 21 at 17:33
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    The same question could be asked about flavored water. – Geremia Jan 21 at 23:49
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    In terms of Botany, coconut water is the solution from which the sapling draws nutrition for sprouting and growth. As such, it is not to be considered plain water. I belong to a place where lots and lots of coconut trees are grown. I never heard of any catechism lesson permitting coconut water to be consumed just before one receives Holy Communion, unless and until it is administered in the form of a medicine. – Kadalikatt Joseph Sibichan Jan 22 at 15:35
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Have you heard of any catechism lesson FORBIDDING ...

I think your whole question is based on some massive misconception:

As I already wrote in a comment, your question seems to based on the assumption that religion exercise can be done by observing a set of unambiguous rules.

I have often read questions similar to yours in some internet forums where Muslims were discussing. In that religion many faithful seem to have the belief that God wants them to follow a set of unambiguous rules.

In Christian religion (this does not only apply to the Catholics) this is however not the case:

You don't do something because there is some stupid rule somewhere in the canon law or in the catechism. You do something because you love God and you are convinced that God wants you to do something.

  • So you are convinced that God wants you not to drink anything but water in the hour before the communion?

    I think in this case everyone knows that "jelly beans" are not beans, "guinea pigs" are not pigs, ... and "coconut water" is not water.

    Why should the catechism explicitly write that? Everyone knows.

  • You believe the same as the people mentioned in my comment (breakfast before the mass)?

    In this case you will deliberately violate Can. 919 CIC because you believe that this rule is not wanted by God.

    Why should the church release any kind of text (catechism, CIC rule, ...) intended for that people? They will claim that the text is wrong anyway.

So in none of the two cases a clarification saying that coconut water is something different than water would make any sense.

Why should this clarification be written by anyone?

Because of this reason I doubt that you will find any written text that clarifies that coconut water is not water.

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Are Catholics allowed to drink coconut water during the hour before they take communion?

Here is what Canon Law states about drinking water before Holy Communion:

Can. 919 §1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.

Unless one can find a Vatican source stating that flavored water or coconut water is permitted, the response should be looked on as: No. The interpretation of water should be seen as to mean ordinary water only.

Only the Holy See can interpret Canon Law and as of now water means just that: "ordinary water".

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts is a dicastery of the Roman Curia. Its work "consists mainly in interpreting the laws of the Church". (Pastor Bonus, 154). It is distinct from the highest tribunal or court in the Church, which is the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and does not have law-making authority to the degree the Pope and the Holy See's tribunals do. Its charge is the interpretation of existing canon laws, and it works closely with the Signatura and the other Tribunals and the Pope. Like the Signatura and the other two final appellate Tribunals, the Roman Rota and the Apostolic Penitentiary, it is led by a prefect who is a bishop or archbishop. - Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts

If one thinks that it is possible to drink coconut water just before communion, one must make (write) a dubium to the Holy See asking for clarity.

I recall when the 1983 Code of Canon Law first came out and canon 917 was worded slightly differently than it is now:

Can. 917 A person who has already received the Most Holy Eucharist can receive it a second time on the same day only within the eucharistic celebration in which the person participates, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 921, §2.

Originally it was worded as follows:

Can.917 A person who has received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive it again (iterum) on the same day only during the celebration of the Eucharist in which the person participates, with due regard for the prescription of can. 921, part 2.

The difference is very subtle and the change was clarified by Rome quite rapidly after the dubium on the matter had been asked.

Here is how it happened:

One of the significant changes for the faithful in the Code of Canon Law which was promulgated in 1983 was the permission to receive Holy Communion more than once per day. In the past the law set certain conditions, such as participation in a funeral, marriage or ordination Mass. The new canon, however, simply states,

c.917 A person who has received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive it again (iterum) on the same day only during the celebration of the Eucharist in which the person participates, with due regard for the prescription of can. 921, part 2.

What it is saying is that if one attends a Mass after receiving Holy Communion previously that day, one may receive it again. If it is not a Mass, but a Communion Service for example, one may not receive again.

However, since the Church encourages the full participation of the laity in the Masses they attend, including Holy Communion (if they are worthy), the question arose whether this canon might not permit Holy Communion in any Mass, regardless of the number of times one attended per day. After numerous bishops asked this question of the Holy See, the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of Legislative texts gave the following authentic interpretation, approved by Pope John Paul II,

Doubt: Whether, according to canon 917, one who has already received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only a second time, or as often as one participates in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Response: Affirmative to the first; negative to the second. [AAS 76, (1984) 746]

In the accompanying commentary it was explained that the meaning of again (iterum) was to allow a second time, but not a third, fourth etc... The exception to this is the one given in the law itself, canon 921, 2.

  1. Even if they have received Communion in the same day, those who are in danger of death are strongly urged to receive again.

Thus, Communion given as Viaticum may be received at any time.

Communion - How many times per day?

Coconut water may not be drunk less than an hour before communion. If you have a doubt on this matter, petition the Holy See for clarity before you do it. Write your own dubium on the matter!

And by the way: Good Luck.

Addendum (Thanks to – K-HB's comment):

Issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on January 6, 1953.

The Apostolic Constitution "Christus Dominus," issued today by the Sovereign Pontiff Pius XII happily reigning, grants several faculties and dispensations with respect to the observance of the law of the Eucharistic fast. It also confirms, in great measure and substantially, the rules of the Code of Canon Law[26] for the priests and the faithful able to observe that law of the Eucharistic fast. Nevertheless, the favorable first order of this Constitution, according to which natural water (that is, without the addition of any element) no longer breaks the Eucharistic fast (Const., Rule I), is extended to these also.

The Apostolic Constitution Of His Holiness Pope Pius XII: [Christus Dominus

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    Good answer. I want to add something: The exception for water dates back to the Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus from 1953. There the pope writes about "natural water" and the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office adds "that is, without the addition of any element". So I would not see coconut water as natural water. – K-HB Jan 26 at 12:56

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