With this season's apparent severity of influenza across the nation (an estimated 6 to 7 million people have been reported sick with the flu as of this week, with the number of reported cases rising each day), numerous requests have been made from the laity, priests, and medical personnel who work with infectious diseases, as well as several hospital administrations, to discontinue the “handshake / kiss of peace,” or alter the exchange of peace to some gesture or acknowledgement of the Peace of Christ that still “expresses peace, communion and charity.” They have also recommended that the distribution of the chalice/s to the faithful be suspended until the spread of the disease has subsided.
According to the CDC, “a person might spread the flu virus by droplets from a cough, sneeze or talking, but one may also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose. Eating utensils and dishes used by those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly. Healthy adults can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.” Those who are ill should avoid crowds. If you are sick, then your obligation to attend Mass is excused.
Receiving the Precious Body ONLY is still receiving the fullness of the Lord — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity — and refraining from receiving the chalice or extending a handshake anytime during the year when one is experiencing the symptoms of an illness should not be seen as disrespecting others in any way; it may be that the person wishes to not communicate his or her germs to others. (effective this weekend 1.26/27)
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.