As we all know, the flu season is upon us. In the past several days, I have received many inquiries from parishioners who have felt uncomfortable at Mass while the flu spreads in our communities. Clearly, common sense is the best advice anyone can give. Everyone should be conscientious about washing their hands and refraining from touching their eyes and nose. If anyone is not feeling well, they should not attend Mass.
However, because of the H1N1 virus, things are different. On Friday morning, Oct. 23, Josephine County declared a local state of emergency due to the outbreak of H1N1 influenza. Therefore, after consultation with the Archdiocese Office of Worship and others here in our own parish, I have decided to return to the regulations given to us last year by the Archbishop during our last flu outbreak.
This means that I am asking everyone to refrain from holding hands during the Our Father, replacing a shake of hands at the Sign of Peace with a friendly wave to each other, and Communion in the hand with the host only. This means we will suspend the offering of the Precious Blood at Mass. These regulations will be in effect until I determine that it is okay to return to our previous liturgical norms. As was the case last year, some will not agree or like these directives, but I ask your obedience and potential sacrifice of your personal piety for the greater good of the community. Thank you for your understanding.
Fr. William Holtzinger