Manhattan feels markedly different this fall. Returning to campus, I’ve seen Doug’s “How to avoid H1N1 and seasonal flu” in every bathroom in the veterinary medicine buildings. Everyone’s whispering about H1N1 and many preventative methods have been put in place to keep the flu at bay. At St. Isidore’s Catholic Church, they’ve even gone as far as to discontinue communion wine for the congregation. Chaplain Fr Keith Weber says that the decision was made by the staff and not mandated by the diocese. Will it be mandatory in the future?
Drinking the communion wine always felt like a bit of Russian roulette for me. How healthy was the person who drank before me? During the winter when the whole church was coughing and hacking, I decided to skip it entirely. I had accepted the fact that this public health nightmare would continue indefinitely. St. Isidore’s new policy of discontinuing communion wine is definitely a smart move to join the “avoid H1N1” campaign.
The policy for distributing communion wafers has always been to wash your hands before the service starts, but now there is also a bottle of antibacterial available to use immediately before giving out communion. St. Isidore’s is just one of many churches around the country (and globally) implementing these anti-flu strategies. The virus once known as swine flu has affected the practices of Christians and Muslims, especially in Great Britain.
The archbishops of Canterbury and York said the church’s worship needed to "take into account the interests of public health during the current phase of the swine flu pandemic."
The Muslim Council of Britain has released guidelines to Muslims urging imams and mosque committee members to increase the awareness among the Muslim community about the dangers of using communal towels during cleansing ceremonies before worship.
As far as working against H1N1, it’s a good step in the right direction. Even once the pandemic has blown over, shouldn’t these practices stay in place to prevent future diseases?