As we are in the midst of the cold and flu season, and with the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading throughout the world and the nation, it is important to take every possible precaution.

We have already discontinued the shaking of hands at the introduction to Mass and at the sign of peace. I ask that we continue to do this until further notice. If your family chooses to show some physical expression to one another, that is your decision, but please do not put anyone else in the position of having to refuse your handshake or embrace. Let us simply turn to one another, bow, and wish one another peace, or greet one another with, “Hello.”

Another step we have already taken is to discontinue the distribution of the cup at Communion time. I am also asking extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to carefully use the hand sanitizer before distributing Communion. If you have any sniffle or other cold symptom, please find a replacement rather than risk infecting others.

One final step that I am implementing immediately is to remove the holy water at the entrances to the church. This is one more way in which we might infect on another.

Please make sure to follow the common steps advised by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for avoiding cross infection. Wash your hands often, and cover your mouth appropriately when you cough. One measure that I had never heard of before is to avoid touching handrails as you go up or down steps. Keep a tissue between your hands and the rail to avoid picking up germs and viruses from others who have used the rail.

If you suspect that you are ill, or are getting ill, please stay home from church. It is better to not take that risk for your sake and for that of others. There is no sin in this, given the current situation. In fact, to knowingly put others at risk is a much more serious sin than to miss Mass under these circumstances. Perhaps you can watch the Mass on the parish website, or on TV. Certainly, take some special time to pray at home, if you do not make it to Mass.

Fr. Mike Comer