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Skipping Breakfast before Liturgy

Simayan

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Hi everyone,

Ever since I started taking communion a year ago, I've always abstained from breakfast before going. However, lately, that's been a problem.

I recently started exercising more often in preparation for the Naval Academy, so my metabolism has gone up. As such, whereas I used to wake up not hungry, I'm now famished. Though this wouldn't be such a big problem by itself, it leads to a headache halfway through Liturgy (as what usually happens when I skip a meal now). My breakfast never consists of more than some cold cereal, which seems pretty basic to me. I know if I talk to my priest, he'll say, "Oh, don't worry about it", but I wanted to get your opinions as well.

In Christ,
Will



 

Anastasios

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As you already know, one cannot eat before a liturgy unless there is a medical reason. You could take a tylenol and a glass of water to prevent the headache with his blessing since that would be more along the lines of "medical."  Sometimes, people's bodies will adjust to this after a month or two--the brain just learns to tune out the stomach.  Or, you could eat a very large meal before going to bed. I always enjoy doing that, but that is because I am a glutton ;)  I do understand what you are saying though as this has happened to me before--I get dizzy when I have to fast from 6 pm until 3 am for our Vigil liturgies of Christmas and Pascha.

I guess the point I am trying to get accross is that whereas fasting rules are meant to be aids and not punishments, and the Wed and Fri fasts can be adjusted to meet the abilities of the faster, the pre communion Sunday fast is a rather big deal.  Now I am off to pray myself :)
 

greekischristian

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If your priest judges it prudent for you to eat, I fail to see the problem. The tradition of obedience came from the same place as that of fasting...and there's a place for both, in moderation.
 

Anastasios

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greekischristian said:
If your priest judges it prudent for you to eat, I fail to see the problem. The tradition of obedience came from the same place as that of fasting...and there's a place for both, in moderation.
Well, of course you would fail to see the problem ;)

A priest or bishop's advice/counsel is only valid insofar as it is in line with the tradition of the Church and expresses the mind of the Church. I have never met even a New Calendarist priest who says it is ok to eat before communing. There may be some, but I have never met one. Even at the allegedly "hyper liberal" Seminary I attended the idea of eating before communion would have been unheard of.
 

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Anastasios,

A priest or bishop's advice/counsel is only valid insofar as it is in line with the tradition of the Church and expresses the mind of the Church.
Are you saying that it's ok to judge whether a bishop or priest is properly applying the canons? I thought it was up to the bishop to decide how canons are applied? Isn't this a primary (though certainly not the only) cause for the division that exists in traditionalist circles, the idea that the laity can figure things out by themselves and rebel over minor issues (when the canon from the Proto-Deutero only speaks of rebelling in the case of heresy)? Wouldn't obedience to a priest who was wrong about a trivial matter be more pious than refusing to follow the wish of your priest because you differ with his interpretation and/or application of a canon? I know this might be mostly theoretical as far as this particular subject (fasting before communion) goes, but what about the general mindset? Isn't the bedrock of everyday Orthodox life to "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls" (Heb. 13:17).

Don't know why I care, maybe because I got caught in the trap of trying to out-smart and out-interpret Orthodox before? I don't want people to experience what I did. If they follow your path, then that's all well and good, but if they went to the lengths that I did... well look were that led! ;D
 

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Simayan said:
Hi everyone,

Ever since I started taking communion a year ago, I've always abstained from breakfast before going. However, lately, that's been a problem.

I recently started exercising more often in preparation for the Naval Academy, so my metabolism has gone up. As such, whereas I used to wake up not hungry, I'm now famished. Though this wouldn't be such a big problem by itself, it leads to a headache halfway through Liturgy (as what usually happens when I skip a meal now). My breakfast never consists of more than some cold cereal, which seems pretty basic to me. I know if I talk to my priest, he'll say, "Oh, don't worry about it", but I wanted to get your opinions as well.

In Christ,
Will
You could try experimenting a little. Eat a high protein dinner and have a protein snack before bedtime the night before. I had a problem of being extremely dehydrated from lack of water which caused me to feel faint in church. I then tried drinking a large glass of water before going to bed Saturday night and that seemed to help quite a bit. But if you are at the point of headaches, light-headedness or feeling faint (which can be a driving hazard) you should speak to your priest. It (fasting) is not worth getting into a car accident on the way to church.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Asteriktos said:
Are you saying that it's ok to judge whether a bishop or priest is properly applying the canons? I thought it was up to the bishop to decide how canons are applied? Isn't this a primary (though certainly not the only) cause for the division that exists in traditionalist circles, the idea that the laity can figure things out by themselves and rebel over minor issues (when the canon from the Proto-Deutero only speaks of rebelling in the case of heresy)? Wouldn't obedience to a priest who was wrong about a trivial matter be more pious than refusing to follow the wish of your priest because you differ with his interpretation and/or application of a canon? I know this might be mostly theoretical as far as this particular subject (fasting before communion) goes, but what about the general mindset? Isn't the bedrock of everyday Orthodox life to "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls" (Heb. 13:17).
True to my signature line, I'm going to propose the paradox that we must do both.  We must obey our bishops and priests as they seek to "divine the word of truth," but we must also seek to know Holy Tradition for ourselves and obey it.  Hopefully the two speak as one.
 

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Asteriktos said:
Anastasios,

Are you saying that it's ok to judge whether a bishop or priest is properly applying the canons? I thought it was up to the bishop to decide how canons are applied? Isn't this a primary (though certainly not the only) cause for the division that exists in traditionalist circles, the idea that the laity can figure things out by themselves and rebel over minor issues (when the canon from the Proto-Deutero only speaks of rebelling in the case of heresy)? Wouldn't obedience to a priest who was wrong about a trivial matter be more pious than refusing to follow the wish of your priest because you differ with his interpretation and/or application of a canon? I know this might be mostly theoretical as far as this particular subject (fasting before communion) goes, but what about the general mindset? Isn't the bedrock of everyday Orthodox life to "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls" (Heb. 13:17).

Don't know why I care, maybe because I got caught in the trap of trying to out-smart and out-interpret Orthodox before? I don't want people to experience what I did. If they follow your path, then that's all well and good, but if they went to the lengths that I did... well look were that led! ;D
Most people just have a common sense approach to this and they don't get into much trouble. You're right, you overthought things ;)

Obedience and "resistance" have to be done in moderation and in the proper time. Let the user beware :) There is a time and a place for both. Ultimately, we make our own choices anyway.  In Orthodoxy we are always responsible for what we choose to do.

Anastasios
 

Simayan

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Tamara said:
I had a problem of being extremely dehydrated from lack of water which caused me to feel faint in church. I then tried drinking a large glass of water before going to bed Saturday night and that seemed to help quite a bit.
I always thought water was allowed.
 

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Simayan said:
I always thought water was allowed.
Will, I really encourage you to speak to your priest. Different jurisdictions have different fasting traditions. I believe you said you were in the Greek Archdiocese and I am an Antiochian. Do whatever your priest says is allowable. But please don't drive in a light-headed state. I was speaking to a friend today at church about fasting and she shared with me that one of her friends was in a car accident due to not thinking clearly from strict fasting. We live in a different situation here in the U.S. My grandparents could walk to their village church in Syria so there was no problem with being light-headed or a little faint. But since most of us drive to church we risk not only our own safety and but the safety of others if our strict fast compromises our driving skills. Your priest will help you figure out what your limits are with fasting.
 

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Simayan said:
Hi everyone,

Ever since I started taking communion a year ago, I've always abstained from breakfast before going. However, lately, that's been a problem.

I recently started exercising more often in preparation for the Naval Academy, so my metabolism has gone up. As such, whereas I used to wake up not hungry, I'm now famished. Though this wouldn't be such a big problem by itself, it leads to a headache halfway through Liturgy (as what usually happens when I skip a meal now). My breakfast never consists of more than some cold cereal, which seems pretty basic to me. I know if I talk to my priest, he'll say, "Oh, don't worry about it", but I wanted to get your opinions as well.

In Christ,
Will

Maybe you are over-working yourself in the exercise?  Perhaps you need to talk to someone that will help you balance your exercise and diet? 
 

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Tamara said:
Will, I really encourage you to speak to your priest. Different jurisdictions have different fasting traditions. I believe you said you were in the Greek Archdiocese and I am an Antiochian. Do whatever your priest says is allowable. But please don't drive in a light-headed state. I was speaking to a friend today at church about fasting and she shared with me that one of her friends was in a car accident due to not thinking clearly from strict fasting. We live in a different situation here in the U.S. My grandparents could walk to their village church in Syria so there was no problem with being light-headed or a little faint. But since most of us drive to church we risk not only our own safety and but the safety of others if our strict fast compromises our driving skills. Your priest will help you figure out what your limits are with fasting.
Tamara,

Excellent advice.  My priest has said that if you need to take medications, then do it.  Also, if your medication should be taken with a little food, then go ahead and do it.  Try to keep the fast from midnight but don't damage your health over it.  Your spiritual father can mitigate the fast for you.

Joe
 

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Will,

I hope you don't mind if I "piggyback" on your thread.


We are currently Roman Catholic.  We are bound only to a one hour Eucharistic fast, but we try to do a fast from midnight.  The problem that causes me some concern is that my daughter (age 11) and I both suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugars).  Twice in the past 6 months my daughter has, due to fasting, had her blood sugar drop so low that she has fainted during Mass.  And that was when we attended a Mass that began at 7:00 AM, so she was going only about 12 hours without eating.  Note I say "only" as a comparative measure.  12 hours without eating is a fairly long period of time.

At the Orthodox parish the Divine Liturgy doesn't begin until 10:00 AM.  My daughter eats her evening snack at about 9:00 PM before bed.  That would mean going 15 hours between meals.  I know that doing that will make both of us sick.  But I worry much more about her.  Our routine when attending the Catholic Mass at 7:00 AM was to rise at 5:00 AM and before leaving the house at 6:00 AM for the hour long drive I would have my daughter drink a beverage containing no sugar but 23 g of protein.  It tastes horrible - but it keeps her from passing out. 

Now I'm reading statements like "I have never met even a New Calendarist priest who says it is ok to eat before communing. There may be some, but I have never met one. Even at the allegedly "hyper liberal" Seminary I attended the idea of eating before communion would have been unheard of."

I plan to discuss this with the priest of the Orthodox parish.  But I have grave concerns about both my daughter (who is after all an adolescent) and myself.  To complicate my situation I had a weight loss surgery that is restrictive in nature and limits the amount of food I can eat at a sitting.  So I can't load up the night before.  It isn't physically possible and I'm not medically allowed to eat within 2 hours of going to bed (due to reflux issues).

While I understand the importance of the Eucharistic Fast I do wonder how one balances that need against the health and needs of one's body.
 

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Carole said:
Will,

I hope you don't mind if I "piggyback" on your thread.


We are currently Roman Catholic.  We are bound only to a one hour Eucharistic fast, but we try to do a fast from midnight.  The problem that causes me some concern is that my daughter (age 11) and I both suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugars).  Twice in the past 6 months my daughter has, due to fasting, had her blood sugar drop so low that she has fainted during Mass.  And that was when we attended a Mass that began at 7:00 AM, so she was going only about 12 hours without eating.  Note I say "only" as a comparative measure.  12 hours without eating is a fairly long period of time.

At the Orthodox parish the Divine Liturgy doesn't begin until 10:00 AM.  My daughter eats her evening snack at about 9:00 PM before bed.  That would mean going 15 hours between meals.  I know that doing that will make both of us sick.  But I worry much more about her.  Our routine when attending the Catholic Mass at 7:00 AM was to rise at 5:00 AM and before leaving the house at 6:00 AM for the hour long drive I would have my daughter drink a beverage containing no sugar but 23 g of protein.  It tastes horrible - but it keeps her from passing out. 

Now I'm reading statements like "I have never met even a New Calendarist priest who says it is ok to eat before communing. There may be some, but I have never met one. Even at the allegedly "hyper liberal" Seminary I attended the idea of eating before communion would have been unheard of."

I plan to discuss this with the priest of the Orthodox parish.  But I have grave concerns about both my daughter (who is after all an adolescent) and myself.  To complicate my situation I had a weight loss surgery that is restrictive in nature and limits the amount of food I can eat at a sitting.  So I can't load up the night before.  It isn't physically possible and I'm not medically allowed to eat within 2 hours of going to bed (due to reflux issues).

While I understand the importance of the Eucharistic Fast I do wonder how one balances that need against the health and needs of one's body.
Carole,

I hope you don't mind me replying to you. You will find that the Orthodox Church is not a legalistic entity where one size fits all. Speak to your priest. If you and your daughter have medical issues and dietary restrictions then I am sure he will accommodate your needs. When I was pregnant I had to eat or else I would pass out. My priest told me to eat what I needed to so I could attend Divine Liturgy and receive Holy Communion. My parents are both on medications that require them to eat before they come to church. They are also allowed to receive communion.
I hope this helps.

sincerely, Tamara
 

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Carole said:
Now I'm reading statements like "I have never met even a New Calendarist priest who says it is ok to eat before communing. There may be some, but I have never met one. Even at the allegedly "hyper liberal" Seminary I attended the idea of eating before communion would have been unheard of."

I plan to discuss this with the priest of the Orthodox parish.  But I have grave concerns about both my daughter (who is after all an adolescent) and myself.  To complicate my situation I had a weight loss surgery that is restrictive in nature and limits the amount of food I can eat at a sitting.  So I can't load up the night before.  It isn't physically possible and I'm not medically allowed to eat within 2 hours of going to bed (due to reflux issues).

While I understand the importance of the Eucharistic Fast I do wonder how one balances that need against the health and needs of one's body.
You are doing the proper thing with asking your Priest about the situation, and I do believe he will advise you that due to the serious health concerns you have for yourself and your daughter, that you should do your best to fast but within means that are healthy for the both of you.  My fiancee's mother has Type 1 diabetes compounded with other health issues so she has to watch with fasting as well.  She is an extremely devout Bosnian Serb and at times I believe she is pushing her fasting a tad extreme for her condition, but well, she is set in her ways.  She does, thankfully, understand that she does have to keep her health in mind during the various fasting periods during the year and before the Eucharist, and has, with the blessing of her Priest, created a fasting regime she is able to follow safely.  There have been a few times though that she has had to have a small glass of orange juice during the Eucharistic Fast in order to maintain a safe blood sugar level but she understands (though it took some convincing from her Priest) that it is not right to risk her very life and deprive herself of a small glass of juice or a small biscuit for it.

I am sure your Priest will understand your situation and answer your questions.   :)
 

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Carol,

To add to what Tamara says, my priest has told me that he even knows a Bishop who breaks the fast and eats something with his heart medication when it is necessary, and that is before he is celebating the Divine Liturgy.  Can I ask which jurisdiction you are considering Carol? (OCA, Antiochian, Greek, ROCOR).  I'm Antiochian and I know that generally speaking, the Antiochians apply the principle of oiconomia more generously than some others might.  I have to confess that it is one reason why I love the Antiochians so much and it was not too difficult for me to transition from Melkite to Antiochian.

Joe
 

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Thank you to everyone who responded on this thread.  It has been more helpful than you can imagine!

Joe, the priest to whom we are speaking and the parish at which we feel welcomed and comfortable is a Greek Orthodox parish.
 

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I'll have to look it up, but I think either Frs. Schmemann or Meyendorff (or both) discussed the practice of fasting before the liturgy and said it was a practice that entered the church after the period of its legality in the Empire.  I want to say it was somewhere in th 6th to 8th centuries.

It's not a dogma anyhow, but a practice.
 

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As my old greek friend tells me, "back in Greece, when I was a young man, it was easy to fast for the Liturgy" He continues by saying, first of all they eat supper really late, like 10 or 11pm and the village church begins the Liturgy (nor orthros, but the Liturgy) at 7:30am. So, you wake up, roll out of bed and walk to the local church. Finally, normally people took communion only a few times a year, so putting this all together, this is not so difficult.  North America "suppers" at 6pm (followed by popcorn at 9pm!) and Liturgy starting at 10:30am, coupled with more frequent Holy Communion, makes Sunday fasting much more difficult.

One final point ,be careful what you inquire about, you would be surprised at the number of Orthodox (cradle and convert) who eat something small and simple and have coffee or tea (black) before Liturgy. You would be surprised.......

Basil
 

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Whatever else you do, use your conscience.
 

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The fast before Communion has become deeply embedded in our Holy Tradition and is to be revered as such, all while following the guidance of our priests.  But we should remember something my priest once told me: Jesus Himself broke bread with His disciples to institute the Eucharistic meal after they had eaten their dinner.
 

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Simayan-

I don't have much to add as far as doctrine goes that hasn't been covered.  But my opinion is that your priest has spoken: act prudently and prayerfully along the lines he suggested. 

But moving way from doctrine to practical things, maybe you should PT early in the morning Sat., have a large lunch, also have a fairly large dinner Saturday night at around 7-8ish.  I generally do that, and while I'm no PT fiend, I generally find that I won't be hungry until lunch-timish.    Also, note that your metabolism will eventually adjust, especially if you take it slow.  For a long time I couldn't fathom the idea of going for more than half a day without protein.  But last lent I found I could do it for a few days. 

Markos
 

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Or, you could eat a very large meal before going to bed.
Doesn't that make you more hungry in the morning?  :)



I also found that it's sort of 'mind over matter' when it comes to hunger pangs in the mornings of Divine Liturgy. I don't know about anyone else, but just telling myself that I'm not really hungry, or this isn't truly hunger helps! Maybe it's a bit 'corny' but I think of all those who wake up almost every day, really hungry and malnurished, and my 'guilt' sort of takes the hunger away.

Also, it could also be thirst, a lot of the times our body gives out the feeling of hunger when we are truly lacking water. Try drinking more water throughout the day, every day, and hydrate yourself. You'd be surprised how less hungry you feel during the day ...

Peace.
 

PeterTheAleut

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macedonia74 said:
Or, you could eat a very large meal before going to bed.
Doesn't that make you more hungry in the morning?  :)
Not to mention the other known complications from such bedtime eating:
  • higher percentage of food sugars stored as fat due to the inactivity of sleep
  • increased risk of acid reflux from lying down while your stomach is producing more digestive acid (Believe me, it's no fun staying up most of the night with a raging tummy ache.  :p)

Generally, it's very wise to NOT eat a large meal right before bed for the above listed reasons.
 

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Simayan, I would see this as suffering for Christ and count it as a blessing  :)
 

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By the way, I was born with ulcers down my throat and throughout my tummy and reflux. I still get ulcers from time to time and sometimes find that I can't stand up because of ulcers but I still fast before liturgy. I don't always have an ulcer that is causing a problem though.
 

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I also am hypoglycemic and have some trouble with fasting before liturgy. I have noticed, though, that if I eat later in the evening (about 7-ish) rather than my usual 4:30 (my wife and I both work early shifts), then I don't feel faint as often. Also, I have found holy water to be an excellent remedy. I will, on days I feel lightheaded, take a Dixie cup or two of holy water during the liturgy, and that seems to give me the strength I need. Maybe it's just that I'm thirsty, but I doubt it. I'm no expert in holy things, but there's something to that water that just isn't ordinary.
 

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Frankly, I have learned that sometimes it is just prudent to keep certain things to oneself and to use one's own judgement. 
 

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ytterbiumanalyst said:
I also am hypoglycemic and have some trouble with fasting before liturgy. I have noticed, though, that if I eat later in the evening (about 7-ish) rather than my usual 4:30 (my wife and I both work early shifts), then I don't feel faint as often. Also, I have found holy water to be an excellent remedy. I will, on days I feel lightheaded, take a Dixie cup or two of holy water during the liturgy, and that seems to give me the strength I need. Maybe it's just that I'm thirsty, but I doubt it. I'm no expert in holy things, but there's something to that water that just isn't ordinary.
Welcome ytterbiumanalyst!
As soon as I saw the name, I had to say "hi!"
When I was in high school, I rebelled against my chemistry teacher who struggled to teach us the periodic table, and I distinctly remember saying to him: "What use will I ever possibly have for an element with a name like Ytterbium?" Twenty years later, I worked in a large Aboriginal Community in Western Australia for a while, and there was no electricity in the Aboriginal Camps outside of town. In my first week, there was an elderly patient in the camp who urgently needed to have x-rays of her arm taken, but she refused to leave the camp. When I told the radiographer that she wouldn't let us bring her in, and that there was no electricity for the portable x-ray machine in the camp, he replied "No worries, I don't need electricity, I've got an Ytterbium x-ray machine."
It took God 20 years, but he got me back for doubting the usefulness of one of His Creations!
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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^

Thanks for the story. I love hearing about the strange ways God teaches us things. I never knew ytterbium had a use, actually; I was drawn to it because of the odd name. The reason I chose it is that I dislike having to put numbers after my usernames, and this name is never taken, no matter what site I use it for. So, if you ever come across a "ytterbiumanalyst" somewhere else, you can be pretty sure it's me (or else someone who stole it from me).  ;)
 

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Welcome: ytterbiumanalyst
I might have to steal some from you when gas prices spike again. :D

When I was younger my mother told me that spitting, chewing gum, brushing your teeth and even drinking water weren't allowed the morning before receiving. Just goes to show you how much more devoted people were before the modern age. I don't practice this myself, but it's always in the back of my mind and sort of feel guilty, when brushing my teeth.  ;D
 

greekischristian

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Demetrios G. said:
Welcome: ytterbiumanalyst
I might have to steal some from you when gas prices spike again. :D

When I was younger my mother told me that spitting, chewing gum, brushing your teeth and even drinking water weren't allowed the morning before receiving. Just goes to show you how much more devoted people were before the modern age. I don't practice this myself, but it's always in the back of my mind and sort of feel guilty, when brushing my teeth.  ;D
I'm sure the person sitting next to you appreciates this great sacrifice you're making ;)
 

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Thanks for the story. I love hearing about the strange ways God teaches us things. I never knew ytterbium had a use, actually; I was drawn to it because of the odd name. The reason I chose it is that I dislike having to put numbers after my usernames, and this name is never taken, no matter what site I use it for. So, if you ever come across a "ytterbiumanalyst" somewhere else, you can be pretty sure it's me (or else someone who stole it from me).
Actually ytterbiumanalyst, it's more common than you think. I have seen it used by others in various forums...looks like you jumped on the bandwaggon a little late there son.. :D
 

Nacho

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How do you know those weren't me?
Were you part of various star trek & other intergalactic enthusiast forums? Ahhh, just kidding there kid, I was pulling your leg from the get go..... ;D You indeed do have quite and interesting name there. Almost as interesting as mine lol... ;) See ya' at church on Sunday!
 

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Simayan said:
Hi everyone,

Ever since I started taking communion a year ago, I've always abstained from breakfast before going. However, lately, that's been a problem.

I recently started exercising more often in preparation for the Naval Academy, so my metabolism has gone up. As such, whereas I used to wake up not hungry, I'm now famished. Though this wouldn't be such a big problem by itself, it leads to a headache halfway through Liturgy (as what usually happens when I skip a meal now). My breakfast never consists of more than some cold cereal, which seems pretty basic to me. I know if I talk to my priest, he'll say, "Oh, don't worry about it", but I wanted to get your opinions as well.

In Christ,
Will
We do this too, so we can get prosfora or Holy Communion.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Indocern said:
Simayan said:
Hi everyone,

Ever since I started taking communion a year ago, I've always abstained from breakfast before going. However, lately, that's been a problem.

I recently started exercising more often in preparation for the Naval Academy, so my metabolism has gone up. As such, whereas I used to wake up not hungry, I'm now famished. Though this wouldn't be such a big problem by itself, it leads to a headache halfway through Liturgy (as what usually happens when I skip a meal now). My breakfast never consists of more than some cold cereal, which seems pretty basic to me. I know if I talk to my priest, he'll say, "Oh, don't worry about it", but I wanted to get your opinions as well.

In Christ,
Will
We do this too, so we can get prosfora or Holy Communion.
Is there any reason why you're addressing a poster who submitted that post close to 9 years ago? He hasn't posted here since 2012.
 
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