Dear Friends in Christ:Then they recommend:
During recent days we have all become aware of the potential danger of the possibility of a serious epidemic of “swine flu” for which there is no vaccination. To assist in preventing the spread of such a possible epidemic, I have asked that each pastor give mindful consideration to the following items:
a. Remind all of our people at Mass to be attentive to the indications of our public health officials with respect to the transmission of this flu; and
b. Consider suspending in your parish the reception of the Holy Eucharist under both species for an appropriate period of time;
c. Ensure that all Eucharistic Ministers use proper hygiene before the distribution of the Eucharist at masses.
I thank you all for your attention to this matter and ask that you offer prayers for the well-being of those afflicted by this illness and for all public health officials as they guide us in eradicating this threat.
Faithfully in Christ,
Most Reverend Kevin J. Farrell, D.D.
Bishop of Dallas
Father Michael Dugan, Director of the Office of Liturgy for the Diocese of Dallas, offers the following reminders and recommendations.
Sunday Obligation: The Obligation to attend Mass on Sunday other Holy Days of Obligation, (Canon 1247) is the ordinary expectation of Catholics. Obviously, extraordinary circumstances such as sickness, travel, or bad weather excuse the faithful from this 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.
Sign of Peace: Members of our congregations should not be offended at this time if someone chooses not to shake the other person’s hand at 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.
Reception of Holy Communion: It is the teaching of the Church that the Fullness of the Body and Blood of Christ are contained in the Holy Eucharist, under the form of the Host that is distributed at the Mass. The Church has extended the privilege to receive at communion the Blood of Christ in the form of wine. We highly encourage the following practices during this time. If you are feeling sick, please receive communion in the hand, and refrain from receiving communion under the form of the Blood of Christ.
Persons with Compromised Immune Systems: Persons who have been directed by their medical advisors that they are particularly susceptible to infection may choose to refrain from any practices by which they might become sick, including shaking hands, receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, drinking from the Precious Blood, etc.
The Liturgy Office of the Diocese of Dallas with the Secretariat for Divine Worship will continue to monitor closely the situation and provide the best advice possible to the parishes and institutions and people of the Diocese of Dallas.
I know more dioceses will follow suit soon.