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The Boston Globe reported this week that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is suggesting some significant changes to the Mass service to try to stem the spread of swine flu.  Click here for the whole article, but here are the basic facts:

  • Communion wine, usually offered from a chalice that is sipped by every parishioner, will be suspended from the service so that flu germs can’t be passed by sharing the cup.
  • The ritual of “passing the peace,” which typically involves a handshake or even embrace, will be replaced with a nod or bow at that moment in the service, preventing contact that might spread the flu.
  • Holy water cisterns will be disinfected and changed more often, lowering the chances that someone’s fingers dipped into the water might leave behind flu germs.

The Globe’s religion reporter, Michael Paulson, pointed out that the changes are partially about preventing the spread of swine flu, but partially about easing the fears of some of the 300,000 Catholics in Boston who attend weekly Mass services but might be nervous to come because of the flu risk.

It’s a fascinating manifestation of life with swine flu, and I wanted to put the question out there–has the swine flu changed your habits?  Are you bringing your own mat to yoga class?  Not offering your friends sips of a great new drink you’re trying at dinner?  Staying home from work because your cubicle neighbor was coughing yesterday?  Staying home from church or synagogue?  Please share!

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