Can you brush your teeth before Holy Communion?

edited December 1969 in Random Issues
without swallowing water.


  • Yes you can. I originally used to think no but I asked a bishop and he said it was ok.

  • Thanks.

    God Bless,
    Copt Andrew
  • lol yea of corse ur not swalling anything=)

  • Just take communion... and don't let these things bother you!

    sometimes we occupy our minds with cleaning that small dirty spot on the wall... while the whole house is a pig stine...

    clean your heart... your life... worry about that first... then brushing your teeth!

    akhdna el baraka... neshkor allah!

  • Superman,
    I asked this to see if brushing your teeth is the same as eating food before communion.
    I didn't want to loose eternity just for brushing my teeth!

    God Bless,
    Copt Andrew
  • lol u wouldnt lose ur eternity.  haha everyone brushes their teeth.  juss don swaallow water. and if u did once, its no bigee juss dont do it again. 

  • I just don't see any need to brush before communion. Brush at night right before bed, and go to church in the morning. Since your not going to eat breakfast, they're shouldn't be a need to brush again in the morning unless you have major breath issues lol.

  • lol thats hardd for me considering i brush after every meal with braces so yea but do wats best for u =)

  • edited September 2015
    I would like to correct:

    Actually, if you do swallow the water from brushing your teeth, it would break the one-hour fast, and you CANNOT recieve Communion.
  • We are not Pharisees. Drinking water does not change the efficacy and the need for communion. In fact, as Christ says, it is not what enters the stomach that defiles the body. It is sin that defiles a person before communion, not tooth brush water. 

    As far as I know, there is not a single canon or rubric that says you must fast 1 hour, 9 hours or any specified time before communion, nor is there a single priest or bishop who will forbid you from receiving communion if you swallowed water. 
  • I was told No. I wasn't allowed anything for 9 hours before communion.
  • @Remenkimi,
    Trust me there are priests who do that especially in Egypt. I believe in the diaspora people are pampered. The only principle is meticulousness and steadfastness in sticking to canons. While I appreciate your reasoning that no such a rubric existed, it's still an agreement between the faithful and a pretty reasonable one in my views. So yes, one should be careful.
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • Opadece,

    In Egypt, the whole country is following a haram/halal mentality. It's wrong. There is no logical way to reconcile a God who loves us and invites to eternal life through the Eucharist and then take it away if we don't follow some arbitrary, non-documented rules. 

    We wouldn't invite a friend over for dinner then tell him he can't eat because he ate 1 hour before. Where is the love? If we wouldn't do such things, how much more will our heavenly Father do?

    This is not about being slothful of any agreement between the faithful or disrespecting God. We are careful for everything God said. And he specifically condemned a haram/Pharisaical mentality. Why are we not respecting God's words on this matter?
  • I have had this in my mind for a while now. Remnkemi, I must agree with you, but understand the concept that we are all under obediance to our church who does guide us to essentially fast before communion. I, however am curious as to where is the origin of this 'recommended guidance' from our church? In a similar line of questioning, why would one be banned from communion if he does not fast on Wednesday or Friday, or any fast for that matter, for instance? Such rules, I find somewhat a little to haram/halal type of mentality and thus, somewhat confusing..
  • edited October 2015
    while I do agree with you, it is important to be careful while approaching holy communion and to come prepared. Christ is Love to all, and He is unchanging, but if we approach Him in negligence and unworthily (without humble repentance) we consume His Love as condemnation to ourselves. While if we approach Him broken and reverent of His holy gifts like the woman with the twelve year blood flow, we partake of eternal life, salvation and forgiveness of sins.

    The Church has given us these rules not to become a law instead of the grace of Christ, but rather to help us be better prepared. This sacrament and feast of God is not like any other dinner, it is the holiest and greatest banquet we could ever be invited to, we can't just stroll in here and treat it like any other event. One thinks of the parable of the wedding where Christ brings in people from the highways and streets (everyone is invited), but someone walks in under prepared without a garment and is cast out. The Church asks us to take heed and be careful not to tread on the Son of God as St. Paul writes to the Hebrews, and warns us of eating and drinking condemnation to ourselves if we partake of it unworthily.

    So why fasting? As physical human beings, sometimes we need simple eating rules to help remind us of more internal spiritual preparations we should be taking. Have I repented, did I confess before coming here? Am I coming to receive healing or as some habitual meal that I am entitled to? It is also to give us the sense that we are emptying ourselves to welcome only God in (as in any other fast). That God is the first thing to enter us in that day.

    Brushing teeth or not, its best to follow your father of confession in this case. Sometimes it is better to act out of obedience than our own logic, as this can simply serve to help us serve ourselves conveniently or follow our own self-will.

    As for fasting periods, every orthodox Church, even the Catholic one, has traditionally observed a certain window for fasting. 

    God Bless
  • I think people are misunderstanding what I am saying. I am not advocating abandoning any church rules. Fasting on Wednesday and Friday have their roots in the Apostolic canons. We cannot individually abandon church rules out of our own will. But as a church, we did not always fast Wednesday and Fridays. So it is impossible to say that without fasting Wednesdays or Fridays or without fasting a certain time period, I was not fully prepared to take communion. The same is true if I drink water or if I use water for oral hygiene. (In this case, there is absolutely no rule that says we can't be hygienic before communion unless a certain amount of time has passed.) So the fasting of Wednesdays and Fridays is not comparable to drinking water before communion. We must follow the canons of the Church out of obedience. But in our endeavor to obey canons, people in the church (not the Church itself) have taken this to a very unhealthy extreme because they live by a haram/halal mentality. These are NOT the Church's rules, even if priests and bishops are enforcing them. Such a haram/halal mentality is the antithesis of God's mystical salvation and limitless, unconditional love. When St Paul speaks of eating and drinking condemnation, it is not actually physically eating and drinking condemnation. It is partaking of the mysteries in an unworthy manner, which can only be by sin, not by external dietary requirements. 

    "Brushing teeth or not, its best to follow your father of confession in this case. Sometimes it is better to act out of obedience than our own logic, as this can simply serve to help us serve ourselves conveniently or follow our own self-will."
    By all means, if it benefits your conscious, speak to a priest. But you don't need to. Would you speak to your priest to get advise on swimming after communion or taking a shower after communion or walking barefoot after communion (which are more examples of those extreme rules followed out of blind piety)? Would you speak to your priest to get advise on what clothes to wear to communion (many priest refuse to commune people who wear shorts and jeans or not wear skirts)? I can go on and on. It is not wrong to use our own logic and think about what the Bible, the Church and Tradition really say, not what we assume they say. 

    So let me clarify again. In no way, should we partake of communion in an unworthy manner. Disobedience to canons is an unworthy manner since it is sin. Partaking of communion without spirituality or spiritual preparation is an unworthy manner. Anger is sin. Fighting with someone before the eucharist is sin (as Christ himself instructed us to reconcile). But refusing to conform to the undocumented and illogical extreme forms of piety people follow is not sin. In fact, as I said before, it is disrespectful to God if you do follow them. Again, it is disrespectful to your hosts/guests if you are invited to dinner but refuse to eat because you brushed your teeth or you may go swimming after dinner. 

  • @Remnkemi, please don't misunderstand me, I wasn't supposing you encouraged disobediance to the canons - neither am I for that matter. As I mentionned, obediance to our church is necessary to approach communion. I was wondering however, the history behind the addition of to certain rules/canons - when was it added? Why were they added? and where specifically can I find these canons? I am being most specific about worthiness to approach communion (for fasting before communion and for fasting periods specifically).
  • @Remenkimi,
    I never understood it to be something to separate us from God or stop us from entering into union with Him as long as we learn the lesson of steadfastness that God will rank us higher if we do. I know you inferred it that way because of your background knowledge, and I don't disagree about the Egyptian society and the concept of halal and haram.. just don't think that's relevant in my opinion..
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • I think it is important to know the reasons for these recommendations before going into theological assumptions as to why we do them. It's really much more practical than theological.

    In the 19th century many upper class copts were coming to church after drinking wine (drunk). That's why we are now supposed to fast before communion.

    Same for the reason of having communion put in your mouth instead of hand. It's only because people would take the communion out of church and use it for witchcraft spells and pagan spells so to decrease the likelihood it began to be put in the mouth of the partake and nobody was allowed to touch it with their hands.

    I agree with remenkimi these rules aren't critical nowadays. But out of respect to the church order we should stick with them as much as we can.
  • baempi,
    I'm having trouble believing that only the Copts implemented a fast before communion because they were getting drunk, when every other Orthodox and even Catholic Church (where it used to be from midnight up until recently) observes a fasting window before communion. It seems to me more reasonable to assume that this tradition has catholicity and roots in the early church, and it does indeed have some theological substance which all fasts have in general.

    God Bless
  • Dear kata,
    Before blindly discrediting the above please read the dissertation of febe armanious called coptic christianity in ottoman egypt. Or read her book. It may be in there also. Once you have read that, please reply to the above.

    Thank you.
  • edited October 2015
    @baempi @katanikhoros FYI, Febe Armanious has some non-Orthodox ideas.  e.g. she believes the "Coptic Charismatic Movement" in places like Mukattam and Toronto is "a movement empowered by the fruits of the Holy Spirit".

  • edited October 2015
    That Copts were getting drunk may be a secondary reason why we fast before communion. But the universality of this tradition cannot be explained by that and needs to be explained. I am confused as to why this tradition is somehow an issue now that keeps some from God's unconditional love.

    God Bless
  • Yes you are right qawe but I was referring to this reference below from her writing, not her opinion. It was actually an order for priests, not wealthy laymen. That was my mistake. This is the order of Pope Yusab with reference:

    "If a priest came forth to offer liturgical prayers, then he must not drink arak or
    liquor, or any alcoholic drinks in the evening of the day in which he will make the
    offerings nor in the day prior to that….The smell of arak in that evening will not
    disappear from the breath of the person who drank it and also [will not disappear
    if he drank it] the day before. How could it be that you, while your mouth is filled
    from the devil’s cup, can spoil your mouth [before drinking] the true cup [of
    communion], that [cup] with which your sins are forgiven? How is your state of
    being while you are embracing that magnificent cup [of Christ’s blood], which
    was sacrificed on behalf of the world for their sins, while your mouth smells of
    the horrific smell of arak?...How could you teach others so that they learn to fear
    approaching [the communion cup] when they are unworthy?

    Patriarchal Library MS Lahūt 113, 266v
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