H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Jan 24, 2013 8:47 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Local Catholic churches take caution with Holy Communion during flu season

Local Catholic churches say it's taking caution with it's Holy Communion procedure, due to the rampant cases of flu.

Every Sunday, Catholics go up to the church alter to receive their communion.

"Communion is really offered in two species, the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine," said Father Matt Pennington, the Pastor of Nativity of Our Lady in San Luis Obispo.

The bread and wine, according to the Catholic faith, are symbols for Christ's body and blood. Catholics have been known to take in his blood, from the same cup.

Fr. Pennington said, "There is a protocol that has to go with the receiving of the precious blood from the chalice."

That protocol, he said, includes wiping the edge of the cup, every time someone new drinks from the cup.

"What happens is the Eucharistic minister actually has a cloth with them called a purificator, and so once the person receives from the cup, the cup is actually wiped with the purificator, and the cup is turned, physically, for the next person to receive," said Fr. Pennington.

But sometimes the purificator isn't pure enough, to kill contagious viruses like the flu.

Dr. Rene Bravo, a pediatrician out of San Luis Obispo, said, "influenza is transmitted primarily, it could be airborne, but through droplets of the virus in saliva or secretions to other people so you can catch it in many ways."

Fr. Pennington said Nativity of Our Lady has suspended the shared communion cup in the past, during more severe clue seasons.

"Like two or three years ago that there was a very strong flu epidemic, and I do remember getting a directive from the Diocese indicating that we should restrict offering the common cup for some time," said Fr. Pennington.

But this year, tradition remains, just with caution.

Fr. Pennington said, "we want to make it as, as rich and as full in opportunity for people every single Sunday, but we also want to keep people safe as well."

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