The Diocese of Dallas has issued some statements regarding mass attendance and receiving the Eucharist with the outbreak of Swine Flu causing grave concerns for the area.
Father Michael Dugan, Director of the Office of Liturgy for the Diocese of Dallas, offered some reminders and recommendations to be consulted in the event of a significant outbreak.
Fr. Dugan said that the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation is the “ordinary expectation” for Catholics. However, “extraordinary circumstances” including sickness excuse the faithful from the obligation.
“If you are not feeling well, especially during this time of concern, please stay at home and do not risk spreading infection to others. Please stay at home and do not attend Mass,” he wrote.
He said congregants should not be offended if someone chooses not to shake hands during the sign of peace.
“If you are ill, the appropriate response to someone extending a sign of peace might be to bow to them and say, ‘Peace be with You,’ to avoid bodily contact or one might wave slightly at the other person.”
Regarding the reception of Holy Communion, he advised those feeling sick to receive communion in the hand and to refrain from receiving communion under the form of the Blood of Christ.
With the reception of communion--there's probably a greater chance of someone being infected by receiving the body of Christ on their tongue or even by hand than there is from drinking out of the cup. Anything with that amount of alcohol in it anyway should be enough to kill any viruses! Someone else touching my hands or having their hands touching the host I'm about to put in my mouth is probably more likely to pass the flu to me, thinkest I.
Any health experts wish to weigh in?