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.
- 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 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