CHARLESTON—Now that fears of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic have ebbed, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has reinstated the reception of the Eucharist on the tongue, receiving the Precious Blood, and exchanging the sign of peace in the Diocese of Charleston.
“I believe many parishes have already done this and I would ask that those who have not please do so by Holy Thursday,” the bishop wrote in a March 18 memo to pastors.
He also advised priests that it might be appropriate to remind people to refrain from these traditions when ill and to use common sense in preventing the spread of any communicable disease.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued guidelines last year concerning fears about the H1N1 virus and the possibility of spreading the disease during Mass. They stated that the diocesan bishop should recommend or mandate liturgical changes in response to influenza in local areas.
Father Bryan P. Babick, vicar for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, consulted with an infectious disease specialist, a lung specialist and a dermatologist to help determine whether the cautions should remain in place for South Carolina.
“So long as people use restraint from receiving the precious blood if they are not feeling well, or showing signs of illness, there should be no problem,” Father Babick said.
The Center for Disease Control reported that flu activity in the United States was relatively low for the week of March 7-13.
However, most cases that are reported continue to be caused by the 2009 H1N1.
To help prevent the spread of infection, the CDC recommends a vaccine as the most important step in protecting oneself. Everyday actions can also help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth because germs spread this way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you are sick with A flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to receive medical care or for other necessities. Stay away from others as much as possible to avoid making them sick.