Touchless Eucharist?

Tim Schenck blogging at Clergy Family Confidential has a new idea for preventing transmission of flu this season.


With all the precautions being taken in liturgical churches (I recently wrote a “Swine Flu Policy” for my own church), I’m envisioning a “Touchless Eucharist” — it would be similar to a touchless car wash. Here are the rules:

No ushers. They might inadvertently breathe on worshippers as they hand out bulletins. Rather, the bulletins should be pre-placed on each pew after having been sprayed with Lysol by the sexton while wearing a space suit.

No fonts full of holy water. Instead, they should be filled with a few gallons of Purell. Parishioners may dip their fingers into the holy hand sanitizer to cross themselves. I don’t recommend the Orthodox tradition of then kissing your fingers.

Only one worshipper per pew.

At The Peace, no more hand shakes or hugging (let alone the Biblical “Kiss of Peace”). Not even the Obama fist bump. Everyone just nods to one another creating a congregation full of people looking like those nodding bird toys.

Communion will be replaced by the Benediction of the Holy Sacrament. This medieval practice involves placing a large consecrated wafer into a bejewelled monstrance. Everyone then gazes upon it and spiritually rests in its presence. In other words, look but don’t touch. Nonetheless the priest will drink a chalice full of cheap vodka that has been set aside to purify said chalice.

The priest will not greet parishioners with the traditional handshake following the service. Worshippers will leave one-by-one at intervals of 15 minutes. The priest will leave first and have lunch in order to prepare to watch football and take a nap.

There will obviously be no coffee hour because there is that woman no one knows who sometimes drinks out of other people’s coffee cups when they put them down for a brief moment to chase their three-year-old around the parish hall.

Comments (6)

LOL, Ann. In my parish Fr Mike suggested that instead of shaking hands or hugging at the Peace that we bow to each other, if preferred. As accustomed as I have become to the Californian practice of hugging every one in sight, it seems cold to me to bow.

We also have borrowed the Methodist practice of eensy weensy cups for the wine for those who prefer to intict. I am just waiting for the priests to don surgical gloves just before they hand out the Bread.

LOL, Ann. In my parish Fr Mike suggested that instead of shaking hands or hugging at the Peace that we bow to each other, if preferred. As accustomed as I have become to the Californian practice of hugging every one in sight, it seems cold to me to bow.

We also have borrowed the Methodist practice of eensy weensy cups for the wine for those who prefer to intinct. I am just waiting for the priests to don surgical gloves just before they hand out the Bread.

This satire come close to my experience of the Church of England last summer. At the Peace in Southwark Cathedral, the guy next to me actually turned and faced the pillar so he could ignore my outstretched hand. Another person did not get up from her seat but stared at the floor. The bottle of Purell was so ceremoniously displayed at the lavabo that they might as well have censed it. And, of course, the chalice was for the big boys up front only.

I know that there are populations which are sensitive to H1N1, but it swept through my fourth grade classroom last month and nobody had anything other than a couple unpleasant days at home. Including me.

John Bassett

Hey, I think I've been to that parish!

I won't lie. I'm a little intrigued by the idea of the priest drinking a chalice-full of vodka. Can it be co-mixed with vermouth, and an olive for the fermentum?
Ok, seriously, this is a pretty brilliant post. The Church has survived much worse things than the swine flu. This too shall pass.

Wow, FrTim has really outdone himself with this one!

This was especially funny:
"The priest will not greet parishioners with the traditional handshake following the service. Worshippers will leave one-by-one at intervals of 15 minutes. The priest will leave first and have lunch in order to prepare to watch football and take a nap."

Peter Carey+

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