27 April 2009

Spiritual Pandemic

OK, apart from this picture being the worst kind of pictorial pun ('swine flew'), I wanted to re-post a couple of past stories that might be relevant as a way of looking at issues for Catholics in a flu epidemic, swine, bird, blogger-induced, or whatever variety.

Holy Communion. The sacraments. The lifeblood of our struggle against the powers and principalities, as St. Paul reminds us.

One news story I saw was interviewing a woman whose confirmation at the National Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City was cancelled because of the swine flu. Granted, we don't need confirmation for salvation, but come on, it sure does help. And though this is undoubtedly to be rescheduled, what if something happens before then? Like, maybe, this girl gets swine flu?

How quickly are we willing to ditch our religious rites in the face of temporal disasters? And why would we?

If Mass is unavailable, or if Holy Communion is not allowed, or only allowed using methods that carry the likelihood of profanation of the sacred Host, what is the effect on the Mystical Body. How can the branches survive if they are cut off from the Vine?

It would take a lot--a lot-- to keep me away from the Eucharist.
Then, of course, there is the issue of what to do when a vaccine is promoted by health officials which, unless the relevant people start acting out of established character, will almost certainly be derived from aborted fetal cell lines. Vaccines for flu outbreaks are notoriously slow to come on line. This could mean that an unproven and possibly ineffective vaccine could be used, or else a vaccine may be available only after the fact. And what if the vaccine is mandatory?
Questions only. It will be interesting to see how these things play out.

The two previous stories are here and here.


Gregory Thaumaturgas said...

I believe you're only obligated to recieve Communion once per year, though once per week is highly recommended.

You are also required to attend Church once each Sunday and each Holy Day of Obligation.

But you must also respect your body under Thou Shalt not Kill, so I think it's very reasonable that these people stay home, especially since the danger is so high.

Yet I think the Priests in Mexico City could take a new approach! Say a silent Mass in which only the Priest consumes the Eucharist, and then there isn't too much danger!!!

Anonymous said...

Along with the sacraments, God gave us common sense. If the person in front of me takes the cup, and he/she has the flu, odds are, I'm going to get the flu. And if there are contagious people in church who are coughing, their disease is going to spread to people around them. If it makes you feel like a good Christian soldier to abandon reason for the sake of taking Communion, go right ahead, but don't get too puffed up about it. Pride is one of the biggies.

Peggy said...

Some readers at Fr. Z's discussed an an epidemic in Australia in early 1900s. A bishop held an outdoor mass on the steps of the Cathedral. Readers also pointed out that we need not receive communion every mass. It's also not necessary to receive both species. I think there is some question as to whether reception in the hand is more sanitary than reception on the tongue.

Jacob said...

Are you serious! "...or only allowed using methods that carry the likelihood of profanation of the sacred Host, what is the effect on the Mystical Body. How can the branches survive if they are cut off from the Vine?"

Stop reducing our Holy Communion to some magical potion that loses its powers if the spell isn't cast just right.

Latinmassgirl said...

Worried about infection? - solution = Latin Mass:

Reception on the tongue is very sanitary if the person is kneeling when receiving, because it is very difficult to put the host on a standing person's tongue.

If the person is KNEELING, and the priest uses a SMALL host, instead of the huge, hard ones given out at most Novus Ordo masses, there isn't a problem of touching someone's tongue.

Receiving the blood of Christ is unnecessary, as the body of Christ contains the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ.

Mexicans or others worried about the Swine Flu, should all attend the Latin Mass, with perhaps, scarves around their mouths, until receiving communion. There would be minimal danger of infection as the N.O. mass is.

All of the unnecessary contact at the N.O. mass:
• The sign of peace, shaking everyone near you, or even across the isles hands.
• Holding hands during the Our Father (not all parishes)
• Three people bringing up the gifts
• A couple of different lay people standing in-front, reading the Bible, and another one saying the intentions, touching the microphone, etc.
• A lay person saying announcements in-front, either before or after mass
• Passing baskets around from person-to-person (Not all parishes)
• Putting the Eucharist in your own mouth with dirty hands, because one has touched the pew, and other things.
• The choir "performing" up-front, by the alter breathing all over the congregation
• The "mandatory" loud, friendly, social hour immediately after mass, in the aisle and pews of church

thetimman said...

Jacob, I don't see how you came to the accusation you make in light of the statements you cite. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

Latin Mass Girl I finally just must ask you to learn how to spell the word altar.

Latinmassgirl said...

Sorrie for this careles tippo and eny others. I relllie do no hou to spel! Sum uv thee tyme, me theenks. :)

Gregory Thaumaturgas said...

I thought you made some great comments Latinmassgirl. I'm not trying to be picky or anything here, but I did notice you persist in saying Novus Ordo, which, as far as I can tell is a thing of the past. I think now it would be better if we use the word "Ordinary" mass.

But yes, you sure have hit on most of the major problems with contact person-to-person at the Ordinary Mass ;-)

Latinmassgirl said...


I'm glad you agreed with my comments - thanks.

I don't think referring to the New Mass, or Novus Ordo if using the term Latin mass is incorrect. The way most people would refer to it, though, would be Ordinary and Extraordinary as you mentioned.

What do you think, Timman? Is using the term N.O. incorrect now?