Archdiocese publishes flu season directives

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese of Boston Office of Worship, in consultation with local health authorities and the Archdiocesan Office of Risk Management, continues to encourage the clergy and faithful to observe necessary standard precautions to protect the health of others during this flu season, and especially with the risks related to H1N1 influenza. The best way to prevent the spread of contagious disease is to practice good hygiene.

Rev. Jonathan Gaspar, Co-Director of the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life, said, “Given the extraordinary precautions being taken across the nation to prevent the spread of the H1N1 influenza, the Archdiocese has instituted a series of steps to be followed for the time being during the celebration of the Mass. We thank our priests, deacons, religious and parishioners for their understanding and support of these directives, which aim to protect the health of our people.”

"These are reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of influenza,” said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Infectious Disease Bureau. Dr. Barry added that residents can take a few additional steps to protect themselves and their loved ones: Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow, wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, stay home when you’re sick, and get a flu vaccination.

Health officials recommended that we encourage parishioners to check on the elderly, parents of young children, and others with weakened immune systems that might need assistance. The public can also keep updated by checking

In addition to practicing good hygiene, the Cardinal directs the following for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and for flu prevention:

- The Holy Water fonts are to be drained, cleaned with a disinfecting soap, and re-filled with holy water on a regular basis. Please note that old holy water should be disposed of in the sacrarium.

- The distribution of the Precious Blood for the faithful is suspended, with the exception of those who must receive from the cup due to medical reasons. The faith of the Church teaches that Christ, whole and entire, is received even under only one species.

- The exchange of the Sign of Peace is to be offered without any physical contact. If the priest celebrant chooses to extend the invitation for the sign of peace, the faithful, instead of a handshake, may bow to the persons nearby.

- While the faithful retain the option of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand, all ministers of Holy Communion are advised to distribute the consecrated hosts with care, being cautious not to touch the tongue or the hand of the communicant.

- Parishioners should be reminded that if they are ill or suspect they are ill with a contagious illness, they are not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation. They should remain at home and return to church when they are well.

These directives are effective Saturday, October 31, 2009 and remain in effect until the cold and flu season has come to an end.