Tired of contagion: What What You Do?

This is the second time in a row I can locate the setting causing this recent illness, because I was basically home for almost 48 hours. It was, again, Mass – the only event I happened to attend on the weekend because I was busy doing other things. (Usually I’m running around on the weekend; not so this time.) I’m at the point where I really don’t want to participate in the ‘handshake of peace’ , especially with so many people coughing & sniffling at Mass, and other people who appear not to wash their hands.

A few weeks ago one of the priests announced that people should not come to Mass sick, and that it was acceptable to refrain from touching others during Mass. (Something I’ve never particularly liked anyway, and which I know is controversial enough on this forum.) Yet I’m concerned about appearing rude during such moments. How would you handle it?

Of course, there’s NO WAY you could have caught the bug anywhere during the week, now is there?

With prayer.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother always wore white cotton gloves in public places - I’m thinking it’s time for that tradition to come back! (You can catch the germs off of surfaces other people have touched/sneezed upon, not just from their hands.) And of course there are places where it became quite usual for people to wear masks in public last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that again. So if you’re really concerned I would suggest both of those protections. Or if your immuno-suppressed I think it would be acceptable for you to stay home and watch the Mass on TV. Probably an EM could bring you Communion.

I will say, however, that I am noticing quite a few people just nodding at the sign of peace now, which I presume is about flu-prevention. No offense given or taken. We all do what we need to do.

I do think it would be appropriate for our bishops to emphasize the “stay home if you’re sick” message.

We now just bow our heads to others at the Sign of Peace. Just keep your arms folded and bow. Or cough loudly into your hands just before, nobody’ll want to shake hands with you either.:smiley:

Regarding the hand shake of peace, a simple fix is not to shake hands, but instead a simple head bow as one other poster noted . My pastor has also requested during the cold and flue season, if you are sick to stay home until you are better. Really more people should pay attention to this it’s just common sense.

I carry in my car a bottle of hand wash. When I leave church, I use some of this stuff as a temporary measure until I get home. I also use it after handling the gas pump or grocery cart. Actually, I use it whenever I leave a public place and I have been handling anything that could have been handled by someone else. I have some at the office. Again this is just a temporary measure until I get home where I thoroughly wash my hands with soap and water. As to whether you caught your illness at church or not we only have your word for this. But if you are doing a lot of running around it’s likely you could have picked it up anywhere.

Firstly, I would say that if there are so many people around you coughing and spluttering during Mass, then any 'flu virus which such people may have has reached you long before you go to shake hands with them. As I’ve said a number of times already, with the sign of peace one or two people could become infected, but one single sneeze could potentially infect the whole congregation.

If you don’t like shaking hands, then don’t - I think most people would understand in the current circumstances, You could just raise your hand as if you were about to wave, or you could make a slight bow or nod of the head. If you do this *before *people start to put out their hand, they will probably respond in a similar fashion.

Remember that H1N1 is a strain of the flu virus. Unless you have a particularly weak immune system, you probably have nothing to worry about. Simple but thorough handwashing is probably the single most effective way of combatting the virus - as is the case with most infections. It is always good to be hygienic, but go easy on all the anti-viral gels - these do nothing to help the body’s natural defences, and in the same way as misuse of antibiotics, can actually reduce your natural resistance to infection, as well as causing viruses to mutate into even more powerful “superbugs”.

Thank you for posts 5 and 7. I appreciate your efforts. In this case, this being a more informal type of church, there appears to be much more of an expectation of physical contact (unfortunately), :slight_smile:

I actually already had & am over with the H1N1. I think that’s why I particularly resented this recent incident. I can sometimes tell when people don’t wash their hands because there’s 'stuff" on their hands. I always wash mine right before Mass. Our Eucharistic ministers use antibacterial stuff right before they distribute, which I really appreciate. :slight_smile:


Our bishop has asked us to refrain from touching one another, and is only allowing reception of the host, not the chalice.

Most folks here just keep their hands either together or at their sides, and give a little head nod, or bow at the sign of peace.

the kids are funny though…they’re so used to shaking hands that they get really offended when the adults around them tell them no. :stuck_out_tongue:

Keep your hands in your pockets or folded in front of you, give each person a very warm smile and wish them peace. That’s what I do, and no one has been offended.


This is what we are doing in my Diocese only we have one added thing, we skip the sign of peace! It has been asked by our Bishop to do so. Also at the Our Father to not hold hands!

Brenda V.

I have a chronic cough that has nothing to do with the flu, or a cold, or a sinus infection. I try to sit away from other people, but usually I just nod and smile and if someone just keeps holding his hand out, I say, “I’m too germy.” When I cantor or sing with the choir I take codeine cough medicine, but I can’t take that all the time. The choir members are huggy, and I try to avoid that but I’m not going to cause a scene in front of the entire church. I’ve suggested we back off on the whole kiss of peace activity, but they all seem to like it. I briefly touch them on the arm or shoulder and that suffices. And I go through a lot of tissues.

In the days of H1N1, nobody but nobody is going to be offended if you don’t touch them. Relieved is more like it. It has become a courtesy to keep your hands to yourself.

It is common for people to be contagious a full day before they feel symptoms of a communicable disease. Also, many microbes can live on a dry surface for 12 hours or more, so even if you don’t touch anyone else, you can pick up germs from the pews.

OTOH, according to a study by the CDC, even people who regularly receive Holy Communion from a common cup are not more prone to communicable disease than those who don’t. In the normal world, the difference in risk between COTT and CITH is even lower. IOW, these are not necessarily steps that those who aren’t particularly prone to illness need to follow, except when there is a serious bug like H1N1 going around. In that case, we are duty-bound to lower transmission for the sake of others, even if we don’t care about ourselves.

Keep your hands away from your face and other people’s skin, squirt a big splooch of hand santizer on your own hands before receiving Holy Communion–it takes a sizeable amount, rubbed down into the ridges of the skin, so that it is on the entire surface of the hand for awhile before drying, or it doesn’t do the trick–and consider that your immune status may argue against receiving the Precious Blood (if it is even being offered in your parish).

Carry a bottle of that hand disinfectant goop. I use it after shaking hands with people at Mass, particularly if I am going to distribute communion.

I have a chronic cough, and I do not like touching strangers or vice versa. I can tolerate the other choir members, but I do have to steel myself for it. When I’m not singing, I leave my hands on the pew in front of me, give a little apologetic smile and say, “I’m kind of germy from coughing, but peace to you.” I try to sit in the same place all the time, because I’m really short and can’t see from anywhere else, so the people around me kind of recognize the non-toucher now.

I may have said this before. It’s been a while since I looked at this thread.

And there’s nowhere and no way you could have picked up a bug except for DURING mass?

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