Do I have to receive Communion from a priest who coughs on the host?

First, I have to say I’m a bit of a germ-a-phobe.

I occassionally attend a noon Mass at a church near my office. There are several priests and one of the priests consistently coughs – a wet, hacking, phlegmy cough. He always covers his mouth with his right hand. The same hand he gives Communion with. I was so freaked out one time, I didn’t take Communion. Which was fine; it’s a daily Mass; I’m happy to receive only once a week.

However, he also fills in at my regular parish about once a month and I always, always seem to hit the Mass he’s presiding at. Yesterday, Sunday, was one of the days he was at my parish. I spent the first half of the Mass watching him to be sure he didn’t cough; I couldn’t even concentrate on the Mass. Then as I was standing right in front of him, waiting for the host. HE COUGHED. A LOT. The wet, hacking, phlegmy cough, covering his mouth with his right hand and then handing me the host with the same hand. I almost did not accept the host I was so freaked out. Then I became so nauseated I didn’t think I could swallow.

So my question is: if he’s at my parish and its a Sunday Mass, my weekly obligation, is it okay if I don’t receive Communion? If I choose to just continue kneeling in the pew? Will I still receive any graces from that Mass? Also, how horrible is it if I change seats during Mass so I can receive from the extraordinary minister who helps? Unfortunately, we don’t see who the priest is until he’s walking down the aisle.

It’s a small parish and my seat changing would not go unnoticed.

Or am I being completely germ-a-phobic and should just snap out of it?

You could have folded your arms over your chest and said, “May I have a blessing, please, Father?” and then headed off to receive Communion from the chalice if the chalice was offered.

[quote=Autumn]So my question is: if he’s at my parish and its a Sunday Mass, my weekly obligation, is it okay if I don’t receive Communion? If I choose to just continue kneeling in the pew? Will I still receive any graces from that Mass? Also, how horrible is it if I change seats during Mass so I can receive from the extraordinary minister who helps? Unfortunately, we don’t see who the priest is until he’s walking down the aisle.
[/quote]

Catholics need only receive Communion once per year during the Easter season. The rest of the year, reception of Communion at Mass is optional. You are also free to change seats or to receive from another minister who is distributing Communion.

[quote=Autumn]Or am I being completely germ-a-phobic and should just snap out of it?
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Assuming your description of the problem is accurate, I don’t think you’re out of line to be concerned, particularly during a flu epidemic. I recommend talking to the pastor of the church about your concerns. If he hasn’t already done so, the priest who is ill certainly should consult with a doctor about his chest congestion and how to control his cough during Mass. Also, you might suggest that hand sanitizer be kept on the credence table for use by the priests and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion before distribution of Communion.

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