Aware of the danger and impact the flu virus is causing, the Diocese of Richmond’s Office of Worship, with the approval of Bishop Barry C. Knestout, has released guidelines for the pastors of the 142 parishes in the diocese to consider for their parishes.

Common-sense precautions should be taken when the faithful celebrate Mass or attend other events in their parishes in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

The Office of Worship guidelines suggest pastors remind parishioners, in whatever manner is appropriate within Mass, that no one is ever under an obligation to receive from the chalice.

“Christ is fully present in each species when the bread and wine have been consecrated into his Body and Blood,” wrote Father Sean Prince, director of the office.

He said that anyone who is ill — or suspects he or she is ill — should, out of good will, refrain from receiving from the chalice.

He advised ministers, i.e., sacristans, servers, and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, to practice good hand hygiene, adding that the parish could make hand sanitizer available for the EMHCs to use before and after the distribution of communion.

“If there is great alarm, then pastors may consider discontinuing — temporarily — the

practice of offering communion under the form of Precious Blood,” Father Prince wrote.

He added that no one is ever under an obligation to shake hands during the Sign of Peace, noting that a statement of peace, bow, or other gesture is appropriate.

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