Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A very happy sniffles season to all! I’ve already had my first cold of the season, and I get the sense that I’m not alone. Giving kids high fives, shaking hands, being surrounded by large numbers of people – sickness is inevitable. As much as it may seem unavoidable though, I’d like to think there are a few things we can do to at least minimize the chances of sickness spreading here at the Church.
A few simple suggestions: there is no obligation to shake hands during the sign of peace; we should respect if someone prefers to just wave. If we are feeling very seriously ill, the obligation for us to attend Mass is lifted – God doesn’t want us risking our own health and the health of others. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are asked to be sure to keep their hands clean, and refrain from distributing if they are sick; there is also hand sanitizer available on the credence table.
Most noticeably though, on the part of the Church, we will be suspending distribution of the Precious Blood at all Masses beginning Sunday, December 1st. I know many will miss this practice, but I think it’s a good opportunity to revisit what we believe about the Blessed Sacrament. Because we believe that Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the smallest particle of the Sacred Host or the smallest drop of Precious Blood. This is called concomitance. And with this being true, we are in no way deprived of any graces receiving solely of the Host or solely of the Chalice.
One concern might be from the community that is incapable of receiving the host due to a gluten allergy. Beginning December 1st we will also begin making use of low gluten hosts. These hosts have negligible amounts of gluten (some gluten is necessary for it to be considered bread and therefore able to be consecrated) and will be kept in a pyx that has never held normal hosts. With this being a new practice, to start we would ask that anybody who wishes to receive this way to please stop in the sacristy prior to Mass and let the priest know. He will discuss with you the best way to receive. Please feel free to be in touch with me as well if you have any questions.
A final note: Advent begins next Sunday. As much as the Christmas season has already begun in the secular world, we have a lot to celebrate prior. Today, on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the last Sunday of the Church year, we celebrate the great enthroned Christ who will come at the end of time to judge the world. Advent stands then as the beginning of a new year, where we anxiously await and prepare for the coming of the Infant Christ. Let’s try and keep that spirit knowing it will make our Christmas celebration all the richer.
Yours in Christ,