With the flu season now in full effect around the world, we should consider the seriousness of the situation and act accordingly. People, especially the most vulnerable, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, are in grave danger.
With that in mind, let’s look at the reality of the situation of participation in Mass so that we can all take the necesssary precautions to avoid spreading the flu.
But, first, if you are ill with a serious cold, flu or other virus, please take care of yourself.
Stay home from work or school, and if you are seriously ill, you can stay home from Mass, too.
Get better. We need you in our Catholic community — happy, healthy and holy.
Second, if you are not feeling well, even a little bit, when you receive Communion, please make a prudent decision. If you are ill — or feel like you are getting ill — then do not receive from the chalice.
That said, the odds are low that drinking from the chalice will make you ill. According to immuniologists, chalices at Mass are safe because they are thoroughly cleaned beforehand as they are purified and because they are metal and nonporous. And the alcohol that’s in the wine is also a cleansing agent. Still, you shouldn’t take a chance.
And, of course, there is the reality that the Blood of Christ, which is pure goodness, can never make you ill.
But even though the Blood of Christ will never make you sick, the human beings who have received before you who are ill might.
Be prudent — don’t receive from the chalice if you are ill or think you are getting ill. You are not missing out on “half of the Lord.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, a doctor of the church, wrote the following in his “Summa Theologica” — and it’s a tenant of our faith:
“Nothing is lost by the body being received by the people without the blood: because the priest both offers and receives the blood in the name of all, and the whole Christ is present under either species.”
The norm for the distribution of Communion in the Diocese of Brooklyn is that it comes under both species.
The pastor of a parish, however, can decide to not distribute the chalice for a limited time. But you, too, can decide not to receive from the chalice if you are not feeling well.
Third, if you are feeling ill, there is no need to extend your hand for the sign of peace. It is just as effective to look at your neighbor and say, “Peace be with you.”
Stay healthy! Stay prayerful!
And pray for those around the world who are suffering with the flu.