As talk of the H1N1 Virus return in September grows, many of us in churches are wondering how we will respond. Here at our parish we recently got a donation to purchase chalices for offering the Precious Blood at all Sunday Liturgies. The outbreak of Swine Flu might not be the most opportune time to initiate this practice.
Another issue is the Holy Water fonts and whether we should continue with them. Replace them with hand sanitizers?
There’s also the question of greeting people before mass and the sign of peace. We can certainly handle that by offering alternative gestures. Here’s something from the UK:
Flu to trigger hugs in British churches: report
Some British parishioners are being advised to hug rather than shake hands “as a sign of peace” in measures by churches to try to stop the spread of swine flu, a report said Wednesday.
The Church of England has introduced the measure in its Southwark diocese in southeast London as concerns mount about the spread of swine flu in Britain, the Financial Times said.
Some churches have also begun to allow “intinction” or dipping bread in communion wine rather than sharing the chalice, while others have stopped offering wine altogether, the newspaper said.
A British bishop has already advised his diocese to suspend holy water from churches in a bid to halt the spread of the A(H1N1) virus.
The measures follow ones being introduced in other countries, including in Portugal where church goers are to take communion by having the host placed in their hands, not their mouth.
Swine flu has now killed more than 700 people around the globe, the World Health Organisation said Tuesday, as experts debated whether schools should be closed to contain the pandemic.
© 2007 AFP Paul Ellis