New: Prayer for Protection Against Swine Flu.
Q. 1. I have been told that the Catholic Church has made some changes because of Swine Flu. Can you please expand on this matter?
A. 1. Because of the Swine Flu outbreak, some Dioceses in Canada (Edmonton, Alberta & Kingston Ontario), in the United States (Baltimore, Maryland) and in New Zealand have implemented new practices that are related to the celebration of the Holy Mass. These, while being temporarily, are a precaution against the spread of Swine Flu.
Basically, when attending Holy Mass, Catholics are asked to refrain from personal contact with each other. The following list has been compiled to represent some of the precautionary measures that have been adopted by some Dioceses.
1. The Sign of Peace.
Parishioners are no longer allowed to shake hands during the Sign of Peace. Instead, they are being asked to either nod or bow to those on their right and on their left.
This also means no more embracing.
2. The Lord's Prayer.
Parishioners are no longer allowed to hold hands during the Lord's Prayer.
3. Communion from the Cup.
That the practice of allowing people to drink consecrated wine out of a common cup be stopped.
4. Communion on the tongue.
People who normally have the priest place a communion host on their tongues will now receive it in their hands.
5. Expectation of the priests.
The priests are to practise good hygiene while distributing communion hosts.
6. Hand cleaning.
Each Parish should consider making hand-sanitizing liquid available in its Church.
7. The Holy Water at the entrance of the Church.
It is suggested that the containers of holy water typically located at the Church entrances be emptied and disinfected while the flu is spreading.
8. Welcomers at the door of the Church.
Welcomers at the door entrace before the Holy Mass are asked to no longer offer a handshake as an expression of greeting.
9. Eucharistic Ministers.
All Eucharistic Ministers should be seen by the congregation as cleaning their hands with some form of effective hand sanitizer just prior to distribution of communion. To this, the Diocese of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, adds, "This includes the celebrant."
That all multiple baptisms be celebrated with the pouring of the baptismal water, rather than immersion.
11. Those who are sick.
"It is not sinful to miss Mass if you are sick and unable to attend; it is an act of charity," says Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien of Baltimore, Maryland, US. Parishes have an obligation to advise parishioners with flu symptoms to stay home. Parishioners who experience flu like symptoms should stay home from Mass, especially in a health-threatening situation.
"I believe these steps are an appropriate response to the current alert level,” stated Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in a letter sent to all the parish priests during the end of April, 2009.
Catholics are asked to pray for all who have been impacted by the Swine Flu, especially our sisters and brothers in Mexico, as well as the many medical professionals providing care and assistance to the sick throughout the world.
Every year, in every country of the world, thousands and thousands of the weak, the sick, the young and the old, die from the regular flu during the flu season. And nobody seems to care. The Catholic Church does not implement any preventive measures that could save lives during such times.
The sick continue to go to Church to infect other parish members. The sick continue to share the cup to infect those who will receive after them. The sick continue to shake hands with those around them, spreading their infection. And the list goes on, all in love and in the Name of Jesus.
Truly, where is charity in these actions? Should it not begin in the Church leadership? It is no wonder that for over 1,000 years, prior to Vatican II, the Church, in its wisdom, had done away with practices that literally kill others... no more touching each other, no more hand shakes, no more embracing, hugging and kissing. And no more sharing of the Cup, an unnecessary action. In the early days of the Church, the Fathers proclaimed that the fullness of Jesus is found in both, the Consecrated Wine and Bread. If by receiving the Body of Christ, you receive the fullness of Him, then, why is it necessary to also receive the Blood, by the sharing of the Cup, in a manner that can kill others?
This is certainly something to reflect upon.