There was a gaping hole in the wall at Mass on Sunday for the second week in a row. Not a figurative one, though we’ve had one of those for a few months now. It’s a real, honest to goodness, gaping, ugly, dark hole in the wall. Our holy water fonts have been removed due to the flu season, and I couldn’t be more displeased. My sister-in-law agrees with the decision, citing the horribleness of the flu.
At Mass last week, we were also told not to shake hands during the sign of peace for fear of spreading the flu. However, I joined a band of rag-tag renegades. We shook hands. For Pete’s sake, the sign of peace was originally the kiss of peace.
Unfortunately, I have further evidence to cite. When one of our deacons was giving us the tour of the church in RCIA, he said that one day he saw a woman slather her children’s hands with hand sanitizer after the sign of peace and he thought that was just wonderful.
Well I’m having a hard time with it.
Let me start off by saying that I’m incredibly sensitive to staph. Not just the really bad staph that is bad for everyone, but lots of staph. I am constantly getting staph infections and sitting on a public toilet is a game of Russian roulette. So, let me tell you, I know full well the power of germs. Therefore, I am actually hesitant to overuse antibacterial products because, well, it’s overkill and more and more research is showing it does more harm than good.
I just don’t like the attitude. It’s an attitude of fear, when we should exercise an attitude of faith and family. How can we say, “We are the body of Christ…but I’m afraid to touch you.” How can we say, “I have faith in God, and I believe this water has been blessed…but I’m worried I’ll get the flu from it.” It strikes a bad chord with me. I’m not saying we should be careless by any means. If you have the flu, stay home! That’s why we have Eucharist ministers to bring the sacrament to the sick. And as for those prone to infection, well, as someone who is very prone to infection, I know what to do to take care of myself. Dousing myself in hand sanitizer every 5 minutes is not the answer. Avoiding shaking hands with my parish family isn’t either.
I’m torn here. I know I should submit to the authority of our deacons (our Priest would be that figurative gaping hole I alluded to earlier) but being told we shouldn’t touch…I’m not a touchy-feely person. I don’t like to be touched. But at the Mass, I want to embrace everyone around me! St. Francis embraced lepers for crying out loud. Many more great saints lived in filth with the sick as well. How is it acceptable for us to refuse to embrace each other?
I want my holy water back. As bad as it is to tell brothers and sisters in Christ that we can’t touch each other, to give credence to the idea that water that has been blessed will cause illness is an outright lack of faith. It’s enough to make me sick.