Once more, a particularly virulent strain of flu (H1N1) and other respiratory contagions are manifesting themselves throughout our nation and here at home, including a growing number of deaths in the county. H1N1 seems most adversely to attack children, healthy young people and pregnant women. Because of this, I have been approached by members of the medical community who have requested that we make a number of temporary adaptations to our celebrations of the Eucharist, so as to foster the health of our worshipping communities and also of the wider community.
For this reason, I find it necessary to implement the following steps wherever Mass is celebrated in the Diocese of San Jose:
- For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, Holy Communion will not be shared under the form of Consecrated Wine. Concelebrating priests and assisting deacons are to receive the Precious Blood by means of intinction.
- For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, Holy Communion will be distributed only into the hands of communicants; during this time, Holy Communion will not be distributed on the tongue.
- For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, people should not hold hands during the recitation or singing of the Lord’s Prayer.
- For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, the Sign of Peace should be adapted so as to allow for a greeting that does not involve shaking hands or touching.
- For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, all who administer Holy Communion are to wash their hands with an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution, such as Purell, before and after they administer the Sacrament. This precaution also extends to those who minister to the homebound.
- These adaptations are to remain in effect throughout the Diocese until conditions allow me to rescind them.
The Director of Public Health has assured me that these precautions are once again necessary so that we can do our part to foster the health and safety of our people. In conjunction with this, when you explain these adapted procedures to your people, please remind then that the obligation to participate in Sunday Mass does not hold for those who are seriously ill, and that it would be especially prudent for anyone who has fever, cough or other such symptoms to remain at home. Please refer to the article, “Liturgy, Cold, and the Flu: Common Sense Practices,” which Diana Macalintal has recently circulated throughout the Diocese.
Thank you for your immediate attention to these matters and for undertaking the catechesis that will be necessary to introduce these adaptations to your parishes and other communities as soon as possible, but no later than the weekend of January 18/19.