Don't let church make you sick this flu season

The Rev. Deacon Carol E. Peterson, a registered nurse from St. Mark's Church in Cheyenne Wyoming, provides these tips on communicable disease prevention in our parishes:

With flu season upon us it might be helpful to review a few practices that can help to keep us all a bit healthier.

Concerning the Common Cup: While there is a theoretically a small risk of transmitting disease by using a common cup, the risk is very, very low. At St. Mark’s we use high alcohol content wine (12% or higher), which is recommended. Also the Eucharistic Ministers have been instructed in how to appropriately administer the cup to reduce contamination. If you are, might be, or were recently sick, if you have open sores in or on you mouth, or if you have low immunity due to a chronic disease, it is advisable that you only receive the wafer. The Episcopal Church believes that God is fully present in both of the communion elements; rest assured you will still receive the full grace of the Sacrament.

Sharing the Peace: Hands are a notorious source for passing along germs! During flu season you may want to carry and use your own personal hand sanitizer after passing the peace (St. Mark's has large pump bottles located at the rear of the narthex.) You may also want to use some upon entering and exiting the church.

Hand washing – hand washing – hand washing!! This is most effective if you use very warm running water, lots of soap, rub you hands together for at least 20 seconds, and then use the hand towel to turn off the taps and to open the door. Wash your hands before and after eating,after using the rest room, after blowing your nose, etc.

Other Common Sense Tips:

Those serving, as well as parishioners, should stay home if they are not well.

If you can receive the flu vaccine and haven’t already –please consider it; it’s not too late! (The vaccine takes about two weeks to provide protection).

Cough into the bend of your elbow instead of your hands.

Drink lots of water!

Practicing good health habits such as stress reduction, getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet (especially lots of fruits and vegetables) is always wise!

We try to periodically sanitize surfaces at church (e.g. door knobs, light switches, etc.) but know that flu germs can live on surfaces for up to eight hours.

Blessings,
The Rev. Dn. Carol E, Peterson, MS, RN, FCN (your parish nurse)

Thanks, Carol!

Comments (3)

Can somebody please explain to me the current madness re intinction?

Let me explain:

I'm a lifelong Episcopalian (I'll turn 51 in a couple of hours, as it happens). When I first learned about intinction as a young teen, it was done thusly: the host was placed in your hands, then when the chalice arrived, you took the host between your thumb&index finger, and dipped it in the wine. Neat & tidy (like dipping a chip in salsa, w/o scooping), and *IF* you touched anything other than your own host, it was the *wine*. Alcohol, a natural disinfectant.

Now, for about the last 10 years, every parish I go to, I increasingly run into an oh-so-concerned priest instructing the sheep to intinct by leaving the host in their hands, and letting the eucharistic minister dip the host, and have them (EM) put it in my mouth.

No, no, no, no, NO!!!

I am NOT having someone else's fingers in my mouth, especially when those same fingers have been in dozen (or more) other people's mouths!!!

Is there a *less* hygenic/*more* contaminating way of sharing communion (in the Divine Physician), than this???

I'm sorry, but if I attend mass, then come sneeze, come cough, come fever (assuming I haven't bailed)---under THIS intinction regime---I'm drinking from the chalice. Nobody's fingers in my mouth but my own.

JC Fisher

JC, the idea is to prevent you dunking your potentially filthy fingers into the chalice and contaminating it for everyone who takes Communion after you (to say nothing of the possibility of your trailing drops of the Precious Blood all over the place). I often act as a chalice bearer, and believe me - we no more want to put our fingers in your mouth than you want us to, and the vast majority of the time we manage not to do it.

And if you're so sure of the antiseptic and prophylactic properties of Taylor's Tawny Port that you're comfortable dabbling your fingers in it, one wonders why you wouldn't just go ahead and drink from the chalice in the first place?

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