You may have noticed last weekend that some of our common practices at Mass changed. Unlike last year, these changes are only temporary, and are not prompted by rewritten liturgical documents.
Rather, they have been brought about by the current spread of H1N1 influenza (also known as swine flu). Given that there are reported cases in Western Sydney, and we all need to do what we can to minimise the risk of infection, Bishop Manning made several recommendations to minimise physical contact and the transfer of germs.
Therefore, for the time being, the following measures will be in force:
- The holy water stoups at the church doors will be empty
- Communion will only be offered under the form of bread
- Communion will only be given on the hand, not on the tongue
- The sign of peace will not be given by shaking hands
As we would all agree, none of these measures are desirable, but are necessary until the risk of infection passes.
Furthermore, we advise Communion Ministers to wash their hands with soap and warm water before and after communion. This can be done in the sacristy during the Lord’s Prayer and immediately after ministering communion.
These measures will take some getting used to, and it will feel strange to go without blessing ourselves with holy water, shaking hands, or receiving communion from the chalice. We all hope and pray for the health of all, and that the risk of this influenza passes as quickly as possible.