If You Are Ill...
When Catholics gather in Jesus’ name to celebrate the Eucharist, our first concern is sharing our gratitude, our faith, and our belief in Christ among us. However, in any gathering of people, the sharing of germs is inevitable. Concern over whether the sharing of the Cup at Holy Communion contributes to the spread of the flu and any other contagious disease is always a concern.
Roman Catholics believe that both the Body and the Blood of Christ are contained fully in the Holy Eucharist under the form of either the Consecrated Host or the Precious Blood; that is, whether one receives only the Host or only the Precious Blood, one receives Jesus fully. If you are feeling sick or suspect that you might have been exposed to something contagious, please refrain from receiving Holy Communion from the Cup, and receive only the Sacred Host.Note it is never appropriate to dip your Host into the Cup, as this is irreverent and can contaminate the Precious Blood.
Also, although holding hands to pray the “Our Father” can be a beautiful expression of people united in prayer, holding hands with your neighbor is not required. It is fitting to pray the Our Father with your hands folded in prayer.
During the Sign of Peace, some may choose not to shake hands with you. An appropriate gesture for those who are concerned about spreading the flu virus might be to wave, a nod or to clasp your hands together and with a smile say “Peace be with you”.
Should I Attend Mass?
The Obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and other Holy Days of Obligation is the ordinary expectation for Roman Catholics (Canon 1247). With extraordinary circumstances, such as sickness or severe weather, the faithful are excused from this obligation.
In the midst of the cold and flu season, each of us has the responsibility of taking precautions to prevent the spread of these and other illnesses. Frequent hand-washing, covering of mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and vigilance regarding habits and procedures for disease prevention in high risk areas should be common practice.