Liturgical changes for the flu?

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -Many Catholic churches are taking drastic steps to control swine flu.

These changes include temporarily emptying the holy water fonts and not using the common chalice during communion.

So what are other Region Eight churches doing to keep you safe from the virus?

For right now in the Little Rock Diocese which includes a good portion of Region 8, the holy water and cup will stay.

I learned that it would be pretty hard to catch something even from a cup that everyone in church is drinking from.

First off it's important to understand why the bread and wine and holy water is important to Catholics.

I sat down with Father Mike Sinkler from St. Marys' Catholic church in Paragould to find the answer.

"Bread and wine that is presented by the community and prayed over together each Sunday becomes the body and blood of Christ. The Holy Water is a sacramental reminder of the sacramental presence of Christ."


Some churches are now placing the bread in the hands instead of directly in the mouth.

But the cup is commonly shared.

Fr. Mike, "We've always asked people to refrain from the cup and drinking from the common cup if they feel sick. "

Father Mike said at one time any kind of chalice like ceramic or even wood, were acceptable but the rules have been changed.

Fr. Mike, "All communion cups must be precious metal and therefore nonporous."

Germs don't last on nonporous materials.

Father Mike showed me the cup is turned and wiped after each drink is taken, hard to get sick that way.

At the First United Methodist Church in Jonesboro, they celebrate communion but the way they do it is done a little bit differently than the Catholic Church."

Reverand John Miles, the senior pastor, showed me the ceramic chalice they use in communion.

Protestant churches may also use individual plastic glasses.

Both pastors say their servers are keeping their hands clean and both are taking a wait and see what develops stance.

Miles, "We're just waiting and until it gets bad we'll continue to do the usual practices."

From the diocese office in Little Rock,  Bishop Anthony B. Taylors' statement from September 22, says he does not see the need for adaptations to liturgical practices.

Fr. Mike, "I've been a priest for 28 years and doing this and I've never felt that I've caught anything or been endangered by receiving from the cup."

The diocese website has some great tips on fighting the flu and you can read Bishop Taylors' entire statement.

Just click on the link with this story.

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