More cases of Coronavirus are popping up across the United States, and Catholic dioceses are taking preventative action to limit spread of the disease. Some of these changes were made under direction from the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship. The Committee recently sent a letter to dioceses with suggested guidelines for protecting clergy and churchgoers while maintaining the level of reverence due the Holy Mass and Eucharist.
On March 3, the Archdiocese of Chicago released their guidelines to be implemented at all parishes in the archdiocese. The precautions state that everyone who will come in contact with the Holy Eucharist—priests, deacons, altar servers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion—wash their hands prior to Mass and use hand sanitizer immediately before and after Holy Communion.
They request that the faithful not make physical contact during the Sign of Peace, receive the Eucharist reverently in the hand, and not receive from the chalice. The guidelines also suspend use of Holy Water fonts until further notice.
Similar measures have been implemented in many dioceses across the country, from San Diego to Baton Rouge to Washington, D.C.
Deacon Rob Lanciatti, a doctor and former virologist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), joined The Drew Mariani Show to discuss the latest developments.
“These are highly-transmissible viruses and what we want to do is limit the epidemic. … The number one thing is if you’re sick, stay home. Churches are very tight spaces, people are in close contact, there’s a lot of touching that goes on in churches. So really the primary prevention should be if you’re coughing, sneezing, have flu-like symptoms, stay home,” said Deacon Lanciatti.
He implores people to consider how attending Mass while ill affects the community at large. “We have the Sunday obligation, people love the Lord and they want to come to Church, and there’s a sense of they want to be a hero and come even if they’re a little sick. And really, people should think more in terms of love for their brothers and sisters. … I could go and I could infect people. I could be next to an infant or an elderly person and they could get flu or [coronavirus] from me.”
Catechism 2181 allows for Catholics to miss Mass for serious reasons, such as illness or when caring for someone who is sick. It might be difficult for you to stay home from Mass even when you are ill, but Deacon Lanciatti reminds us, “It is a sign of love and charity to your brothers and sisters.”
Listen to the full conversation:
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