Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When You Eat My Body and Drink My Blood - you shall contract H1N1

The Boston Globe started the day with headlines about the "jarring" and radical changes to the Catholic Liturgy to prepare for the mythical H1N1.

The Rev. Jonathan Gaspar, co director of the Boston Archdiocese’s Office of Worship and Spiritual Life, acknowledged in an interview that the measures are “going to be jarring at first’’ for the nearly 300,000 Catholics who attend weekly services and are accustomed to the rituals.

Has anybody know of anybody in the nation who is sick and who can present laboratory results that say they have H1N1?

The internet is a big place. Nobody I know can find anybody who has it or even knows of anybody who knows somebody else who has it.


The Blood of Christ is contained within the Eucharist. Every Grace and gift is complete within the Eucharist and so there is no jarring change there.

No shaking hands or hugging at Mass... is...jarring?

The article drove the detractors of the Catholic Church to thrash about in the comments section.

Personally, I agree wholeheartedly with this comment:

'Why is this front page news? I mean, seriously, who cares?"

The reason the Globe writes a disproportionate number of articles on the Catholic Church relative to other religions can be found in the number of comments regarding this silly article. It is a non-story but the Globe folks know that any story on the Church will bring out the haters in force which will drive key metrics for such as the number of visitors, number of comments, time on site per visit and page views all of which can drive advertising rates.

While the Globe clearly hates the church for its positions on gay marriage and abortion and keeps a full time anti-Catholic op-ed writer on staff, the decision to run this story is simply an economic one.

I absolutely LOVE the faith of the Greek Orthodox hierarch:

The local Greek Orthodox diocese has taken a different approach, arguing disease cannot be spread via Communion.

“The Church has always been clear in its belief that diseases are not transmitted from the Holy Chalice, which we believe contains the very body and blood of our Savior,’’ Metropolitan Methodios, the presiding hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Massachusetts, said in a statement. He urged sick people to stay home but also said worshipers should “not panic, but carry on with their usual activities, including going to church and receiving Holy Communion.’’

I left a message for Fr. Convertino of St. Anthony's Shrine today. Getting in touch with anybody there is quite the process. I'll keep you updated on the happenings there.

In the meantime, a reader sent the below info that affirms that it is the Bishop, not Fr. Convertino or any other sacrilegious loose cannon with authority over changes for the bubonic plague we are not seeing.

Guarding Against Swine Flu
ROME, OCT. 27, 2009 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: What is the bishop's authority when it comes to a pandemic such as the H1N1 virus? Our local bishop has not only removed the sign of peace at Mass in order to avoid handshakes, forbade the reception of the Eucharist on the tongue, removed the possibility for the faithful to receive the blood of Christ, and emptied the blessed water in all the churches of our diocese, but he has officially asked all parishioners to not attend Mass on Sunday if they have a cough. I find this measure a little extreme when our town has not yet had any real case of this virus and our province has had very few cases as a total. Is a cough really an excuse to not attend Sunday Mass? -- M.J., Province of Alberta

A: There are really two questions involved. One regards the extent of the bishop's authority when it comes to responding to a pandemic, the other regarding a particular prudential judgment by a bishop.

With respect to the first question, all of the measures mentioned by our correspondent would fall under the bishop's general overall authority to regulate the liturgy and to dispense from disciplinary laws in particular cases. It is understood that most of these are temporary measures. The bishop would have the authority to permanently regulate some of these elements such as the gesture for the sign of peace and the availability of Communion under both species as the law already places the regulation of these elements under his authority.

Others, such as the prohibition against receiving Communion on the tongue, can be enacted as an emergency measure by the bishop but could not be made permanent or general without an indult from the Holy See.

The practices outlined by the bishop in this case are basically preventive measures that seek to avoid the spread of a possible pandemic and reduce the risk of infection.

In more serious cases, such as being in the midst of an actual pandemic, the bishop could even take more drastic action. Thus during the initial outbreak of this flu, when the malady was still poorly understood, the cardinal archbishop of Mexico City even went so far as to cancel all public Masses for a couple of weeks until the danger subsided.

With respect to the second question, I believe it is necessary to defer to the bishop's prudential judgment in reaching a decision. Since most bishops are not doctors of medicine they would usually consult with experts and with public health authorities regarding appropriate actions to take in the face on an objective risk. We have to suppose that your bishop took these steps and made his decision in the light of informed advice.

For example, in normal circumstances a mild cough would not necessarily excuse an otherwise healthy person from attending Sunday Mass. If, however, the person was as yet unaware as to the cause of the symptom (be it the common cold, regular seasonal flu or this new strain), he should prudently not expose himself and others to risk until the issue has been duly clarified.


Anonymous said...

would you be so kind as to give me the name of a competent local authority who can say the Body and blood of Christ spreads diseases. The Church teaches or used to, that decay, corruption and sin came into the world when Adam and Eve welcomed the devil into the paradise called Eden. We have the same old, same old Vatican two, sixties priest who would rather scandalize the true faithful rather than tell local health authorities to keep out of our religious beliefs. Perhaps Bishops do not truly believe Christ who said, This is My Body".
Is it any wonder we have an Indignant God who we will force to react due to our unbelief?

From the beautiful City of Boston said...


The phrase "competent local authority" is antithetical.

There is no such thing here in Boston. As you can see by the article, the archdiocese was proactive in calling up the health officials to find out how to restrict practices of Catholics.

I don't know where they're going with this. The whole swine flu thing is NUTS if you ask me.

Quite frankly, the fact that it Communion on the tongue was stated affirmatively as a right was beyond my wildest expectations from this Cathedra.

As far as the understanding of the Bishops regarding the Mystical Body of Christ and the Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord in the Eucharist, there is intellectual understanding and then there is understanding that is fruit of the soul.

The people paranoid about the germs in the Precious Miracle belong to the former.

give You thanks,
Lord, holy Father, everlasting God.
In Your great mercy,
and not because of my own merits,
you have fed me,
a sinner and Your unworthy servant,
with the precious body and blood of Your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray this holy communion
may not serve as my judgment and condemnation,
but as my forgiveness and salvation.

May it be my armor of faith
and shield of good purpose.
May it root out in me all vice and evil desires,
increase my love and patience,
humility and obedience and every virtue.

Make it a firm defense
against the wiles of all my enemies,
seen and unseen,
while restraining all evil impulses of flesh and spirit.
May it help me to cleave to you, the one true God,
and bring me a blessed death when you call.

I beseech you to bring me, a sinner,
to that glorious feast where,
with Your Son and Holy Spirit,
you are the true light of Your holy ones,
their flawless blessedness,
everlasting joy
and perfect happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Anonymous said...

Carol, There is a comment on the (infamous) Concord Pastor blog on all this. The poster -- Anne, I think the name is -- has already been told to refuse to give people in the hospital communion on the tongue. (Don't know who told her that.) If the patients refuse to comply, she sez, they are to be reported to the chaplain.

Yikes! Give a little power to some so-called Eucharistic Minister and they steamroll you. Sounds like people at any level from volunteer up are making these decisions. That isn't good, is it?

Anonymous said...

The willy nilly turn
scrupulous because Obama say's
Its an emergency!! is a great health
source on the net. He tells it like
it is on the H1N1 scam.

From the beautiful City of Boston said...

Just what sick and dying people need is some floozy who won't give the Eucharist to them on their tongue and calling in a "chaplain" to chastise them.

I guess we can all be relieved she doesn't scream 'you're gross and have germs" before she runs to get the Chaplain.

Some people just have no idea that they're not qualified for the jobs they're doing for Christ.