It’s hard not to think about swine flu when you’re standing on the communion line at church. There you are trying to reflect on the gift you are about to receive and somebody’s digging around in a bowl with their bare hands for a communion wafer. Very distracting. And as for the wine, I have one word for you: backwash.
This is something only the most hardcore germaphobes worried about in the past, but swine flu has been a game changer. Now how do you feel about people touching what you eat?
One local parish, St. James in Chatham, has gone on high alert. This from The Evangelist:
Some of the precautions taken at St. James were the recommendation that people nod to those outside of their family during the sign of peace. The parish also opted not to hold hands during the “Our Father.” Ministers of the Eucharist used hand sanitizers — discreetly, and not on the altar — before distributing communion, Father Gelfenbien said; and only Eucharistic bread was offered.
A little story: One time we were cooking hot dogs at the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby and a woman pointed out that nobody was wearing food service gloves. She was very knowledgeable about this from her work at the State Health Department and was just offering a helpful heads-up. “They could actually shut you down if they wanted to.”
That’s harsh, but rules is rules.
Look, until this whole flu thing blows over I’d say we have two choices: make the Eucharistic ministers wear food service gloves or put the Purell up there on the altar. See you in church.