Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From the Bishop of Savannah

At St. Joseph Church, we will begin to implement this at our daily Mass beginning, Monday, November 9th:

November 3, 2009

Reverend and dear Father,

Due to the oncoming flu season and the increasing spread of the H1N1 flu (swine flu), I wish to call your attention to the directives made available at the Clergy Retreat in September. Beginning Sunday, November 15, 2009, please implement the following directives: omit the sign of peace (the shaking of hands) and discontinue the distribution of the Precious Blood.

Some parishes have the practice of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. It may be advisable to discontinue this practice. Enclosed is the complete listing of the recommendations.

These directives go into effect on Sunday, November 15, 2009. They will be in force until further notice from my office.

Fraternally yours in Christ,

Most Reverend J. Kevin Boland
Bishop of Savannah


Diocese of Savannah
Office of the Bishop

Guidelines for Parishes to Help Alleviate the Spread of the H1N1 Virus

1. Remind the parishioners that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass does not hold if they have the symptoms of the flu. The more charitable thing to do would be to stay at home.

2. Distribution of Communion from the cup would be discontinued. Only the celebrant would receive from the chalice.

3. Request everyone to receive Communion in the hand. The priest and/or minister should drop the host on the hand and avoid, if possible, touching the hand.

4. Those who insist on receiving on the tongue should be requested to go to the end of the line. Communion on the tongue can be difficult for the minister in attempting to avoid contact with saliva.

5. The handshake of peace would be discontinued. The best way to implement this is not to offer “the sign of peace” which is an optional part of the ritual.

6. Priests, Deacons and Communion Ministers should wash their hands with alcohol-based sanitizer both before and after the distribution of Communion.

Allegedly the H1N1 virus remains alive up to eight hours on surfaces. One church implemented the practice of having the parishioners wipe down the leaning edges of the pews as they left Mass in preparation for the next group of parishioners. This is certainly an optional procedure.

Issued November 2009


:o) mg said...

This will be a hard pill for me to swallow. I think it is in a way cowardice. Even at the height of the AIDS epidemic I do not remember The Church being this fearful. (Of course, that was a number of years ago and I was in college.... perhaps I was not paying as close attention as I do now.)

I blogged about the topic recently:

Unknown said...

This directive makes me sad. Drinking from the communal cup has always been optional. I was taught in RCIA when the question of "catching something" came up that our belief is this is the Blood of Christ and would not bring harm to those who received it.

Gene said...

My best friend is an ER doc in Atlanta, and he says this is no different from any other flu. He said media hysteria is driving all this. But, it is a fairly minor adjustment to Mass. All that hand holding during the Our Father needs to stop, anyway. It is probably a liturgical abuse, anyway, based upon granola crunching post VatII hippie liturgics. So is the making of oracular gestures by congregants. I wish someone would speak to it. Hint, Hint.

Jon said...

Personally, I am glad to see these go--the fullness of Christ's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity reside in both Sacred Species, so to receive the Host alone is wholly sufficient. (Besides, without getting too mystical, I think there is something entirely appropriate about the only alter Christus present drinking from the chalice alone, as the cup of His passion that Christ talks about in St. Mark 10:38: "Can you drink from the cup that I drink of?", He asks His disciples, and if we are true to ourselves, we must confess readily that we cannot.)

As for the sign of the peace, it is, in my opinion, a sloppy innovation that disrupts the continuity of the Mass, which, up to that point, has directed all my focus on preparing to receive Him, when suddenly, I have to break with prayer and concentration to shake someone's hand as though we've just run into each other on the street. Very jarring. Should've come somewhere else in the Mass, perhaps.

The holding of hands during the Our Father is also distracting--all one can think is, Their palm is sweaty. Their hands are cold. Why are they holding my hand like a limp fish? I'm not sure where the practice came from, but don't try it if you attend Mass abroad--many places don't do it.

Jody Peterman said...

Without saying more, I think para.'s three and four ignores the mystery of our Faith. Sorry for being cryptic, but I'm just not going to say what I really think!

Templar said...

I am in complete agreement with what Jon has posted.

While I agree that the H1N1 scare may be more hype than real, I wold welcome any scare that provides us with the opportunity to be more Orthodox in respect to Liturgy.

Save the Liturgy, Save the World.