Recently, Bishop Sue Moxley sent a memorandum to all parishes in the diocese regarding safe and clean practices in relation to the Eucharist. She says that, “All those who will handle the bread or the chalice must clean their hands before doing so.” This is already a common practice here at St. Paul’s and I have sent a message to everyone who administers communion reminding them of the importance of continuing this practice. Soap and water and hand sanitizers are available for everyone.
Sue says that people, “who are sneezing, sniffing or coughing should not be distributing communion. This includes the clergy.” I take this opportunity to say that you may see me coughing during a service, if it is a cold I will not administer communion. However, most mornings I am reacting to heavily scented perfumes, colognes and powders that people are wearing. We advertise that we are a “scent free” building.
Sue says that there, “is no evidence at this time to discontinue the use of the common cup.” And that, “shaking hands at the Peace is a good sign of being at peace with God and neighbour. However, hands spread germs. Use hand cleanser…”
No doubt the most contentious direction she give in the memo regards intinction (the practice of dipping the bread into the wine). She says quite clearly that, “intinction is not an acceptable practice.” Her reason for saying so is that hands are the biggest source of contamination. Knowing that some people may object to her position she says that if, “someone does not wish to drink from the common cup then they should receive the bread only.” It has always been taught that communion can be received fully with either just the bread or just the wine.
For our part, I hope that Parish Council will have an opportunity to discuss this more fully at their next meeting. In the meantime, I ask you to take the directive of the Bishop seriously and understand that she is acting out of a deep concern for the health and wellbeing of every member of our Church.
Sue says we, “must do what is appropriate to reduce the risk of disease, because we are about the ministry of healing. At the same time, we must continue to worship God and care for the people entrusted to our care.”