Monday, July 20, 2009

Plague and Pestilence

Quite a few parishioners were away yesterday, apparently because of fears of porcine 'flu, the collection too was significantly down. I don't know of anyone in the parish who has pig 'flu at the moment. I know that Bishop Hollis has banned Holy Communion under both kinds and reception on the tongue in the Portsmouth diocese. I am not sure that he can legally ban the reception of communion in what is actually the normative way in which Catholics receive Holy Communion. I wonder what happens in those rites where communion is given with a spoon.

Here we are merely expecting people do be sensible, to avoid receiving from the chalice, if they are likely to pass on an infection or vulnerable to receiving one. Our former bishop made both kinds mandatory in this diocese. I suggested this morning that people should not be offended if people refused person to perspon contact at the sign of peace.

As I seem to pick up every infection that is going around my congregation I think I might introduce the traditional method of purification, first with wine and then wine and water. We would have to close down if I got the the 'flu.

The predictions are that the epidemic will get worst. During the 1918/19 influenza out break there were often several funerals a day here, according to the notice book Requiems were offered practically everyday, after a few days they gave up tolling the "passing bell" which seems to have been tolled whenever a parishioner had been killed during the Great War. It seems that that epidemic hit the parish harder than the war.


gemoftheocean said...

Seriously, if I were you, I'd not use the Common Communion cup AT all for just now. There will always be people who are getting sick, but don't realize it. Your EM and you are MOSt at risk, along with anyone else who recieves from the cup. Don't take that chance. I was quite relieved when it first passed through our diocese quite early in this epidemic. A lot of people got mildly sick if not the full out 'flu. Don't forget in general, world wide, there are thousands of people every year who die from various flus - swine or not.

As for the eastern rites they have their OWN bishops and AFAIK legislatively Bishop Hollis can't say zip to them.

I don't know that the EF form of purification would help you a darn bit more IF you don't share your chalice with anyone.

As far as hand/tongue. Strictly from a germ point of view, I think hand is safer - there being ZERO possibility of you passing saliva from one person to another or yourself. [There aren't many people who "move" and nail you with their spit - but every now and again you'd have to admit someone does this.]

dillydaydream said...

My son developed a sore throat and runny nose, and temperature, on Saturday. I thought it was Swine Flu, so I did not take him to Mass on Sunday. I went, and sat away at the back. I thought long and hard about taking the Sacrament myself, although I had no symptoms at all. (It was EF so on the tongue). I only get to a tlm about once a month - and I always prepare with confession - I can't describe the quality of spiritual graces that I get from this experience.

I did not want to be a "Typhoid Mary", but neither did I want to fall prey to excessive scruples. In the end, I went last (except one person managed to get behind me) and held myself perfectly still, with my mouth fully open, so that there could be no finger/mouth contact. (Of course I always aim for this - but I was particularly careful).

My son is better today, so his symptoms cannot have been swine flu - just a common cold. (Silly mummy).

Would you have advised a spiritual communion only in these circumstances? I won't be offended if you say so - I am sharing my experience so that if anyone finds themselves in a similar circumstance, they know what to do.

Anonymous said...

Here are some clarifications regarding communicable diseases:

Pathogens must enter the body in adequate numbers to produce disease.

They must enter through a certain route called the portal of entry
which differs for the various organisms. For example, the alimentary tract (oral) is the for typhoid, dysentery, and cholera organisms.

Some have special affinity for the respiratory tract localized in the bronchi & lungs (tuberculosis & diphtheria) transmitted by one person to another in aerosols generated by sneezing & coughing known as droplet nuclei.

Some other microorganisms enter through the urogential tract.

It appears that the “flu” in question is of an acute respiratory nature and transmitted through the respiratory route and not the oral route.

Submitted by LoganE

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

With the spoon though as in Miles Jesu in the Eastern rite or Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, the spoon doesn't touch the mouth but drops our Blessed Lord onto the tongue. I expect that would be the perfect way to receive.

lizard said...

Father, could you think about switching to more traditional practices in case of a more severe epidemic, even at the New Mass. I am sure if you could explain it, no one would be unhappy to kneel etc.

I am sure the traditional EF style, with the (duly) higher reverence---on the tongue, kneeling and without verbal response---is much safer for both the priest and the communicants.

First, when people are kneeling and do not directly talk to you (Body of Chist... Amen...) you (and people too) would mostly avoid direct contacts with breath micro droplets (it is one of the most important ways of spreading such infection). If the priest is duly reverent in distributing the Holy Host, he will probably almost never touch the mouth and have any contact with saliva. Here, I think the communion plate is extremely useful because it would make the priest more confident, allowing to keep the Holy Host at Its very margin, also reducing the probabilty of touching.

Second, communion in hand may be actually more dangerous. If people touch various things (e.g. in transport an on the street) and then do not wash hands before communion (I suspect relatively few may be duly reverent in such a case), they can easily get and transmit infection. Reverence helps both the soul and the body.

I suggest the diocesan authorities could consult some Catholic doctors on this matter for an advice, BUT, the doctors must be given information on the ER practices too. They must not make decisions based on superficial considerations. Incidentally, is or was there such a commission/consultations?

George said...

Gem - you seem to be concerned about the Cup of the Blood of Christ as a potential vector for this 'swine flu' virus. Well, let me tell you, as others have pointed out, that the means of infection transmittal of this virus is not the oral route (mouth) but 'micro-droplets' created by sneezing and coughing which allow for deep lung penetration. Once there in sufficient numbers the virus particles set up their loci of infection, multiply and take on the many defence mechanisms of your body's immune system. They have to win that fight in order to create a full blown flu or other infection! When God created Human beings He knew 'bugs' would be a problem and built marvellous self defence mechanisms into our systems.

Secondly, regards the Cup of the precious Blood of Christ, the alcoholic content and constant wiping with alcohol is the perfect means of constantly destroying any potential viral or bacterial threat. Alcohol has been used as a sterilizing agent for as long as man has been fermenting grapes, potatoes, rice etc....

No flu bugs will survive in the cup of wine and potential new ones will be zapped at the next wipe!

Please people - lets not reduce the most Sacred Sacrament of the Altar to a mere everyday thing!

Do you believe that Our Blessed Lord would allow His Precious Body and Blood to be a vector for disease? Jesus came to this earth to heal and save humanity not infect them!

Also have you ever heard of anyone coming out of the Miraculous bath waters of Lourdes that was infected by the water? Let's face it thousands of very sick people go into the baths! Sure, the water is changed occassionally but they don't run a swimming pool style recirculation, filtration and sterilisation system on those baths!

Where's your Faith???

As for the Sacred Host on spoons, or banning it altogether!!! All I can say is that the devil is having a field day!

He wants nothing more than to keep us away from receiving Holy Communion, keep people away from the Grace of Jesus Christ, who do you think invented 'swine flu'.

One more thing, over all these centuries there are no documented cases of disease epidemics among the Catholic population being spread through contact with the Blessed Sacraments.

God Bless and keep receiving Holy Communion - worthily of course, after a good Confession.

Amanda said...

Seriously, I think this is a spurious argument. For two main reasons. If someone attends Mass in the early stages of the H1N1 'Flu (Swineflu) then they are as likely to pass it on to those in the pews near them, by sneezing or coughing, as they are to pass it on by using a shared chalice or receiving on the tongue. Secondly the severity (and death rate) with this current flu virus is no worse than any other seasonal flu. The mass media hysteria is what has everyone in a tiz......It is the very old, very young and those with chronic illnesses that are at risk (I can't comment on you Fr Ray since you never took me up on my offer of a check-up!).
I am a GP and still receiving Holy Communion in the way I usually do (in an OF Mass, on the tongue and shared chalice). Maybe a gentle reminder to the parishoners that if they are feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms they are freed from the obligation to attend Mass and should stay at home with their germs?!
That said, if my PP told me he had flu like symptoms I would probably advise him to take the anti-viral Tamiflu that is available. Our Priests are precious and very important and there is evidance that Tamiflu speeds up recovery and attenuates the illness, but maybe not by much!

Elizabeth said...

Do we really have an epidemic or is it just scare mongering by the powers that be. Very few have actually been diagnosed, and after all flu is flu. People die from flu call it swine, bird, chinese etc.
As for banning Communion on the tongue, that is awful. Next they will be handing out The Body and Blood of Jesus in vacuum sealed bags.
People have become paranoid and they are still living longer than ever before!!

Dr Jekyll said...

lizard - communion on the tongue is a much higher risk for transmitting swine flu (or any other respiratory based illnesses) as the communicant is likely to breath droplets onto the priests finger tips or hands, which are then transmitted to the next host or communicant's mouth. Contact with saliva is not necessary for the virus to be transmitted since it is primarilly an air-borne virus.
On the other hand, communion on the hand is a reduced risk since hand contact is only a secondary method of transmission (mostly spread by the virus attaching to the hand when one coughs or blows your nose). If the priest is careful not to touch the communicant's hand then the virus would be very unlikely to be passed on.
I can't see how Father sharing a chalice would put him at risk since he is always the first to recieve communion. The virus would not stay alive if the chalice is washed in warm soapy water between masses. I can't see how kneeling for communion would reduce the risk of spreading swine flu!???

nickbris said...

Influenza of any sort leaves one in no doubt.For anybody of good health a few days in bed on a starvation diet will bring about it's own immunity.

The garbage press will be most disappointed if the whole country is not brought to it's knees.

The 1918 epidemic would have done a lot less damage if the Armies had stayed in France & Belgium a bit longer.

Stopping Sport and closing places of Worship & Entertainment would bring about far more damage than any amount flu whatever they care to call it.

gemoftheocean said...

Jackie, maybe in your part of the Eastern Rite the spoon never touches anyone's tongue, but I think you must be dreaming if you think it never happens. The EP priest are EXCELLENT on their end of it, as a rule of thumb, but if you think there aren't people who "move" or get careless, and if you haven't seen two year olds suck on that spoon you must be really out of the loop of what can and does happen. [Be aware that there are MANY Eastern rite churches which give Communion to toddlers. And please don't tell me toddlers are aware of all the niceties of recieving this way, or that EVERY Catholic there is familiar how to recieve it. The Eastern Rite person may well have brought a Catholic Roman rite friend who doesn't know from bean dip.

gemoftheocean said...

lizard, people may have been "touching things" but they are not going to turn around and stick their finger in the next Communicant's mouth.

And people DO occasionally nail the priest or EM with a tongue. NOT pleasant.

Fr Tim said...

Father, Westminster issued guidelines on Friday which can be found on the Diocesan website. As a prudential judgement we have suspended Holy Communion from the Chalice here and I expect people to use their own judgement about the sign of peace. I am loath to insist on Commmunion in the hand only. We have some people here who can only receive directly on the tongue.

Francis said...

Fr Ray,

Did bishops give instructions about how to -- or whether to -- receive Holy Communion when there were health scares in the olden days (cholera, typhoid, smallpox, Spanish flu, etc.)?

I would be surprised if they did -- not so much because they were ignorant about how diseases spread, but because they had a more mystical understanding of nature of the Holy Eucharist, about who is truly present in the sacrament, and what He is likely to allow to happen to the recipient when the sacrament is administered.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

All this reminds me of Albert Camus' book "The Plague" (La Peste) where they had a similar problem with Communion.

However, that aside, we have a serious question to consider:

The Chalice in Communion contains the Blood of Christ. Not wine - but the Blood of Christ.

Are we seriously saying that our Lord will allow someone to be infected through receiving His Blood; or by receiving His Body from the hands of the priest?

Has our Lord, the Healer, lost His miraculous Divine Powers to swine flu?

Let's be careful about the message we are sending here to those whose Faith may be somewhat shaky.

On a less serious note:

If you receive an email suggesting that you should stop eating luncheon meat to avoid getting swine flu - just ignore it. It's only Spam.

Fr Ray Blake said...

St Thomas says the accidents remain, no harm will come from the substance but the accidents of bread and wine can carry decease, in the same way as they can become corrupt.

Deacon Stephen Morgan said...

Bishop Hollis has done no such thing. In fact he has written to all his clergy saying that, although Bishop Budd in Plymouth and at least one other Bishop (Doyle in Northampton, I think) has done so, he doesn't think it necessary at present.

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

Wow Fr like your last statement..really!

Re receiving the Precious Blood of Our Lord ie Holy Communion under both kinds..we just don't do it at the Oratory.

It reminds me of the 70s 80s when all the women started distributing the Sacred Species..too awful to contemplate & so unnecessary. At one Mass I attended the Rev Fr sat during the distribution whilst the silly women gave out Holy Communion. Surely they know better now? Don't they?

Re swine flu..nah..just not going there!

Crux Fidelis said...

In the building where I work several people have come down with suspected swine flu (suspected because the local NHS is not testing for it any more). No one is panicking and everyone who is not on holiday is getting on with his or her work as before. The media love a scare story (NB their role in the recession) and would love nothing better than mass absenteeism. If I get it I get it and I'm not going to worry about it until I do.

pelerin said...

Francis mentions the 'olden days.' Whilst I am not old enough to remember the 1918 pandemic of Spanish flu (and when thinking of this we must also remember that it was an era without antibiotics) but I did live through the 1957 Asian flu epidemic and the 1968 Hong Kong flu. I don't think either of these generated as much concern amongst the general population as this one appears to be doing although inevitably it did fill newspapers at the time.

I can't help thinking of Clive Dunn in 'Dad's Army' running around shouting 'Don't panic! Don't panic!'

Tom said...

Deacon Stephen - thank you for that helpful clarification about Bishop Hollis.

The reception of Holy Communion on the tongue is the universal norm; reception in the hand is an approved exception to that norm, at the choice of the individual recipient - but is not an a legal par with the norm. As far as I am aware, no one (including a bishop) has the right to derogate from the universal norm. So any bishop who has done so is acting beyond his competence - unless the universal law-giver, the Holy Father, has dispensed with the universal norm and we've not been told about it.

lizard said...


you are not right here, H1N1 is a virus, not a bacteria. This means alcohol is useless for disinfection. Though, it will kill bacteria - this is also very important because in many cases it is not the virus itself, but the secondary infections which kill people. If you noticed this, originally mortality in Mexico was much much higher than in the USA and Europe. I think this is because of secondary infections which overlay on the viral infection (more likely in poor countries with weak medical services).

I also agree with Fr. Ray that while the Substance is different, accidents still present (obviously). This means, theoretically, they might spread infection. Although, in this particular case, it is very very unlikely, first, because it is the Most Holy Sacrament and God will certainly protect us (I love your example of Lurdes waters). I did a very quick search of the available research literature but did not find any evidence that common communion ever spread any infection (there is some literature on this subject, mostly from Lutherans and Anglicans).

I think the best protection is just common sense. Wash hands after coming from the street, try not to swallow sandwiches and snacks on the street, with hands dirty. Avoid unnecessary contact with people looking ill etc. Have a good healthy diet - the best protectioin against viruses is our own immunity (in contrast to bacterial infection little can be done against viruses). Most of these simple advices completely coincide with the moral teaching, especially those on avoiding gluttony eating all kinds of snacks continuously. I think some people might even benefit spiritually from these "restrictions":)

Reverence to the Most Holy Sacrament will also help not only spiritually but simply and purely physically. Trust the Providence, and the traditional rules and practices previous numerous generations of faithful were saved by this (all humanity have not died so far by infections transmitted by the overtly "antisanitaric" practices of religious "delusants").

The most important thing in my opinion is that the worrying and stress caused by panicky news are much much worse that the potential harm caused by the influenzia itself. In this country, in spite of all the criticism of the NHS, it works more or less adequately protecting people. The number of victimns of traffic accidents here is much higher, mortality caused by hospital infections like staphillococcus is also much higher. I wonder why no one is so much worrying abouth these deaths? And most importantly, baby morality caused by abortions is ever much much higher. Influenzia is far not the most important thing on the Earth.

Still, I am sure some precautions are absolutely necessary for two reasons. First, to minimise the risk of infection (not necessarily directly linked with the sacraments, just any risk arising when many people are gathered in a limited premises). Second, light-mindedness will certainly stir significant critical attacks on the Church from the liberal media (oh, these religious obscurants do not care about the health and safety, oh oh oh). Rationality and common sense always help.

lizard said...

Tom said...

So any bishop who has done so is acting beyond his competence - unless the universal law-giver, the Holy Father, has dispensed with the universal norm and we've not been told about it.

It is correct, and i would find such ban the most offensive. But faithful and clergy must obey even such nonsense, unfortunately (in this particular case they do not overtly contradict the Magusterium, because communion in the hand is allowed by indult). Although, no one can forbid to complain loudly and intensely about this clearly unlawful and very offensive decisions.

On issuing such bans, the priest must make a provision of a lavatory where ALL parishioners can thoroughly wash their hands before the Mass and make a clear notice of this. This lavatory must be fully functional also during the Mass.

George said...

Lizard - thanks for your note about my comment, however please read my first paragraph again because I clearly state that the Swine flu pathogen is indeed a virus.

I am a Biological Sciences graduate and worked in Medical Research in London for three years (mid 1970's), before starting my own business. We used alcohol to wipe down lab surfaces and apparatus as a quick means of disinfection. Look at the proliferation of 'alcoholic gels' in hospitals as hand cleaners.

Generally, enveloped (lipophilic) viruses are susceptible to alcohol: Herpes simplex virus (HSV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), influenza virus (Flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), vaccinia virus, Hepatitis B and C viruses are considered susceptible to alcohols.

Sourced from: Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee and the HICPAC/SHEA/APIC/IDSA Hand Hygiene Task Force. MMWR 2002;51 (No. RR-16):pp 10-22.

You make a lot of sense with your comments generally. God Bless.

George said...

Dera Fr Ray, having just sent in a further comment on the benefits of alcohol based disinfectants against virus particles etc.... I've just had the awful realisation that we have (unintentionally) turned the receiving of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar to a debate about medical epidemiology!

I'm so sorry.

Nothing will ever stop me from receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and I couldn't care less whether the Priest was suffering with flu (swine or other!), leprosy
dengue fever or myxomatosis! ;-)

And the Priest should not worry about catching flu bugs through handing out Holy Communion. How many tens of thousands of Holy Priests have administered Sacraments to the sick and dying over the centuries. In fact this is a great Hallmark of our Catholic Faith - administering to the sick and a great act of Christian Charity.

lizard said...

gemoftheocean said...

lizard, people may have been "touching things" but they are not going to turn around and stick their finger in the next Communicant's mouth.

gem, it is much easier to control the cleanness of hands of just one single person, the priest (or one or two additional servers) than numerous parishioners immediately coming from the streets. Also, the priest is preparing rather seriously beforte the mass, including washing his hands. I guess most priests will do their best to provide as much cleanness as possible. Most sensible priets will also be especially meticulous in case of an epidemic. People's hands is one of the greatest germs carrier. It is not a big problem if you do not
lick your fingers, but may bring you ill quite easily if you try to eat a snack or a hot dog (skin really protects) with dirty hands.

lizard said...

Dr Jekyll said...

lizard - communion on the tongue is a much higher risk for transmitting
swine flu (or any other respiratory based illnesses) as the communicant
is likely to breath droplets onto the priests finger tips or hands,
which are then transmitted to the next host or communicant's mouth. ...

I can't see how kneeling for communion would reduce the risk of spreading swine flu!???

Kneeling would reduce risk significantly.

(1) the priest usually keeps the Chalice well above the communicants mouth, reducing the probability that his hands and the Holy Body are contacted with or affected by the communicant's breath/droplets.
(2) The priest's hands are lowered at the level of the communicant's mouth for only a very short time, further reducing the risk.
(3) Motor control is much easier if you are guided visually: it would also be much easier for the priest if the communicant mouth is well below, so he can better see both mouth and tongue (Father, I wonder how (in)convenient is it to give communion to a standing person who is much taller than the priest). This would reduce the probability that the priest inadvertently touches the mouth or contacts saliva.
(4) Communicant does not talk, therefore he/she does not spread droplets (droplets and infection may spread more than 5 times further by talking than just breathing).
(5) If the communicant coughs or sneezes, the potential damage is much less if his/her mouth is well below the Holy Sacrament and the priest's face.
(6) The time the priest spends at each communicant is much smaller in the traditional form, this would significantly diminish the duration of time the priest stays in contact with infection if one of the communicants turns out to be contagious.
(7) The whole communion process is much faster in the traditional form, there is usually less crowding and associated contacts between the communicants. Obviously, it also would reduce the risk (especially contacting breath droplets).

In case of a serious epidemic we must protect the priest much more than the parishioners (I suggest the priest must be kept in an isolated vacuum chamber with double walls when not celebrating Mass, don you mind, Father?:) and the traditional form seem to do this very well. I do not think we must invent something novel when we have an almost perfect procedure verified by numerous previous generations (I do not think we are much smarter than they, probably the reverse is the case).

lizard said...

George said...

... please read my first paragraph again because I clearly state that the Swine flu pathogen is indeed a virus...

Yes, George, I apologise I was inattentive, although I still hold that alcohol itself is not the best protection against viruses, washing yes (with water or better alcohol), but this is rather academic and unimportant. I especially thank you for your last note. It is not a matter of epidemiology. People scared by the Most Holy Sacrament stay home.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Father: As you said "expect people to be sensible". IMHO, if people are ill with a contagious disease that seems to me a valid reason for staying home from Mass, much less receiving Holy Communion in church.

'course we all know people are not always 'sensible' regarding not presenting while in a state of mortal sin so maybe it's to much to ask people to refrain because of illness. Perhaps that's a reason behind these decisions you mentioned.

lizard said...

"the communicant is likely to breath droplets onto the priests finger tips or hands"

Father, probably the last comment in my rather boring epidemiological thread/flood - I'm sorry.

(8) droplets may be less likely if communion is on the tongue: imagine how can you breath with mouth open and tongue out. It is probably rather difficult, I guess most people hold breath for a moment or breath slightly through the nose only (hence most breath droplets would fall on to their own tongue, as nostrils are directed down). Anyway, it is very unlikely that the communicant will exhale strongly at the Holy Body. The probability of spreading droplets is further diminished by very short time the priest's hands are at the level of the communicant's mouth especially in the EF, cf. (2).

(9) the probability of droplets may actually be higher in case of communion in hand. Communicants usually stay for >30 seconds with their hands crossed only 15 cm from their nose, an ample time for droplets to fall to their own hands (the communicant's nostrils are directed downwards). The probability of the priest's hands to be in contact with droplets is rather low here, but perhaps not lower or not much lower than in case of communion on the tongue.

lizard said...

Sorry, Father, I admit I am becoming really boring, just a little clarification for (8). I think it is really important to develop arguments if someone decides to ban the normative rules. Or maybe our bishops could ban the OF instead :)

for (8) the communicant's palms...>30 s at 15 cm below the nose.... The communicant's own fresh breath droplets on his/her own hands are important because the priest may inadvertently touch them. Further, because communion in hands may seem safe, at least some priests may be more careless, which would increase the probability of touching hands and spreading germs. The argument here is exactly the same as that of Pope Benedict on condoms.

Kneeling Catholic said...

The above is a link to an article pertinent to this discussion. We discuss this '24/7' at kneelingcatholic. When others tire and say 'what's the big deal?', we are just getting warmed up!

Gemoftheocean: please feel free to chime in. I am in utter disagreement with your position. But I do love a good argument.

Way to go, Lizard!

k. c.

Richard said...

On the point of alcohol killing germs, I thought it had to be over 60% to be much use.

Abelour sell a cask-strength whisky bottled at just over 60%, but despite being matured in old sherry casks I suspect it wouldn't really count as wine.

I think the Portuguese distil wine to very high levels (80%?) so that they can fortify Port without having to add very much to the good wine. Perhaps you could get hold of a bottle of that neat?

Deacon Stephen Morgan said...

The latest from Portsmouth:

Diocese of Portsmouth


During the current swine flu epidemic, in keeping with the latest guidelines that I have received, I recommend that the following measures be implemented in Catholic Churches throughout the diocese from this weekend:

1) The Sign of Peace during Mass: instead of a handshake members of the congregation are asked to join their hands together, as in prayer, turn to their immediate neighbours, bowing slightly and saying “Peace be with you”.

2) Holy Communion is to be given only on the hand, not on the tongue or from the chalice.

3) Ministers of the Sacred Host are asked to ensure their hands are washed with sanitizers (provided) before and after ministering communion.

These regulations will remain in place until further notice. It is hoped that the reasons for this temporary policy will be understood and appreciated. They have been made out of particular pastoral concern for the vulnerable, namely, the elderly, children and those with underlying health problems.

Bishop Crispian Hollis 23rd July 2009

George said...

"I think the Portuguese distil wine to very high levels (80%?) so that they can fortify Port without having to add very much to the good wine".

WOW!!!! Interesting comment Richard - way to go!!!! That stuff sounds nearly as potent as Poland's 'Czysty Spiritus' (and believe me, it has nothing to do with the Third Person of the Holy Trinity!) Now that will kill 100% of all known germs, but it's a bit more expensive than Domestos! ;-)

George said...

Ever the pragmatist! This is what his Lordship said about prostitution a couple of years or so back -

"If you are going to take a pragmatic view and say prostitution happens, I think there is a need to make sure it's as well regulated as possible for the health of people involved and for the safety of the ladies themselves," Hollis said.

So by laying down these regulations and giving out Holy Communion only in the hand the Bishop is exercising a particular pastoral concern for the vulnerable, namely, the elderly, children and those with underlying health problems.

Well, in that case he should keep these regulations in place permanently as who knows when the next epidemic, pandemic, plague or whatever of measles, mumps, common cold, cholera, tuberculosis etc... etc... might break out. Oh don't worry the media will keep us all well informed - the devil will make sure of that!

Personally I believe the good Bishop is playing into the hands of 'the enemy'. This issue has no end as what applies to this 'swine flu' applies equally to all other communicable diseases.

It is another attack on receiving the Blessed Sacrament devoutly, which the devil hates!

Let's keep Bishop Hollis and all our bishops in our prayers.

pelerin said...

After reading the report of the Portsmouth diocese I went to see what our own diocesan website says on this subject.

I could find nothing there relating to any changes. Have priests been advised of any changes?

The suggestion for the oriental custom of hands together and bowing for the sign of peace, whilst perhaps preferable to a hearty and possibly painful handshake, seems decidedly unEnglish and I feel it could lead to excessive bowing and giggling from children and even adults.

I have to admit that I would far prefer it if this epidemic were to be used for the quiet disappearance of the sign of peace never to return!

Elizabeth said...

PelIerin says 'have to admit that I would far prefer it if this epidemic were to be used for the quiet disappearance of the sign of peace never to return'
I am totally in agreement with you, this is such a sacred part of the Mass and the last thing one wants to do is shake hands, wave, bow heads etc
I remember an elderly lady at Mass kneeling in deep prayer as everyone around was shaking hands, unfortunately her peace was spoilt by some bright spark tapping her on the shoulder to shake her hand???

Please dear Bishops, allow us to receive Holy Communion with reverence on the tongue and we promise not to give you Swine Flu, pneumonia, lepresy, foot and mouth etc

We have become such paranoid nation. Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, has that been forgotten in all this political correctness??

Deacon Stephen Morgan said...


What I posted was the text of the decree issued to the Priests and Deacons about five minutes after it was e-mailed out. I imagine that by this evening they'll all know.

pelerin said...

Regarding this epidemic I have just read that a celebrated French medical professor has described it as a 'grippette' (little 'flu) and says that it is less harmful than the usual winter 'flu. Let's hope he's right!

Edward P. Walton said...

The Right Rev. John Gladwin reported in the Guardian,there is danger in the Holy Water fonts.

"The water contained in stoups can easily become a source of infection and a means of rapidly spreading the Swine Flue virus", said the Right Reverend.

I am sure during the Black Death plague of the past, the Holy Water fonts got a lot of use

George said...

Oh boy, this is really getting out of control! Mass Hysteria (literally!)

Swine flu in the Chalice, on the Holy Sacraments, on the hands, in the air, in the Holy Water font, on your tongues, up your nose, in the pews, in Fr's biretta, on the floor, jumping out of the hymn books, crawling up your trouser leg, in the smoke from the burning incense!

Blow me, better slam the doors, tape them over with 'Do Not Cross This Line' sticky tape and firmly shut every Catholic Church in the Country until the Dept of Health give us the all clear!

Disinfectant foot baths by every doorway, alcoholic gel handwash instead of Holy Water in the fonts, stoups etc... Quarantine all Catholics - after all it only seems to be us who are at risk from Swine flu because of the Blessed Sacrament!

Sheer flippin' madness and the devil is having a 'wow' time! His time is short, he's lost the war and so he's whipping up as much fury and attacking the Church (and every one of us) in every which way he can think of, so as to grab a few more precious souls.

God Bless all.

pelerin said...

A person who telephoned the swine flu hot line was reported as having been asked:- 'Are you unconscious?!'

Kneeling Catholic said...

a thorough refutation of gemoftheocean's comments may be found here