February 15, 2015 – A View from the Rectory

At the direction of Bishop Sullivan, I am sharing with you precautions to be followed at Mass as we are in the flu season. The precautions are simple and easily implemented. They are not intended to be permanent.

Parish Guidelines for the prevention of the spread of the flu during Mass.

Parishioners who feel ill should be reminded to stay at home and refrain from attendance at Mass or other church events until they are fully recovered. Illness is a justifiable excuse from the Sunday Mass obligation.

During the flu season, the faithful should be encouraged to share the Sign of Peace without touching hands or kissing. This may be done with eye – contact, a smile, and a bow of the head while saying the words “May the peace of Christ be with you.” The GIRM (The General Instruction of the Roman Missal) helps in this by saying in Chapter II par.82: “…the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity…it is appropriate that each person, in a sober manner, offer the sign of peace only to those nearest.”

During the flu season, priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should be especially reminded of the need to practice good preventative hygiene. Ministers of Holy Communion should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins, and even to use an alcohol – based anti – bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.

The faithful should be instructed not to receive from the cup if they feel ill. That “no one is ever under an obligation to receive from the chalice” and that “anyone who is ill, or suspects he or she is ill, should refrain from receiving from the chalice out of good will and consider receiving the host in the hand rather than by the mouth.” (USCCB – Secretariat for Divine Worship)

During the flu season, greeters and ushers should use verbal greetings only and not shake hands with parishioners.

Bishop Sullivan should always be consulted regarding any further changes or restriction of options in the celebration of the liturgy.

These guidelines encourage critical pastoral judgment through flu season and emphasize that proper liturgical practices be re-instituted once the influenza risk has diminished.

It is recommended that these guidelines be published in the Parish Bulletin.

Father Pete