First of all, thank you to everyone who has expressed sympathy with my current discomfort. The fracture in my ribcage is small and not displaced, though the treatment is the same in either case: nothing. They don’t even wrap ribs anymore, as they learned that wrapping was leading to pneumonia. As I write this note, I am feeling very good, though I do find myself getting short of breath rather quickly. My question is whether I’m feeling better because I’m healing or because of the pain pills they gave me. My prescription will be finished by the time you read this, so will see if I’m still feeling as good as I am as I write. Now let’s see if I can use that introduction as a transition to what I really wanted to write about.
The doctor told me that I had very few restrictions. For instance, I shouldn’t play full-contact football. That’s no problem, but I’m already thinking of sitting out this year’s parent-student basketball game. Meanwhile, I am also trying very hard not to get sick. I think a fit of sneezing or an upset stomach would really hurt. Of course, it is not easy to avoid illness this time of year. I got my flu shot, but we encounter so many people and in such close quarters that it is easy to spread bugs around.
The main point here is to ask you to use common sense. For instance, some parishes refrain from offering Communion under both forms during cold and flu season. I prefer to trust people to make good decisions. If you are feeling sick, please do not receive from the Cup. (Don’t worry about me; fractured ribs are not contagious.) It is better to keep your germs to yourself at that point. And while we encourage our Eucharistic Ministers to use every precaution, you are free to choose not to receive from the Cup if you are uncomfortable with drinking from a common vessel. Communion under both forms will still be available for those who want to receive it, but it is always optional to each person receiving.
The Sign of Peace is another time when some people feel a little uncomfortable. In most cases, a handshake will not be a problem. But if you are sick, please do not extend your hand. The Sign of Peace is still a regular part of the Mass, so please don’t ignore your brothers and sisters in Christ. But perhaps you could hold your hands together and give a nod and a smile if you have germs that you don’t want to share.
My comments above assume that you have a cold or a mild bug. Please remember that if you are really sick, you can keep your germs at home. We do have a serious obligation to attend Mass every Sunday, but that does not apply to those who are sick. God understands our sickness and does not ask us to go beyond common sense. Of course, if you are healthy enough to go to a Steelers game or to bingo, then you are healthy enough to come to Mass. But those who are truly sick would be better off staying home and praying a rosary or some other devotion.