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Churches Take Steps To Prevent Swine Flu

By: Elyse Miller News Channel 3 Reporter emiller@kesq.com

PALM DESERT – ” We are calling upon God for his strength during this time,” says Father Lincoln, Sacred Heart Church.

As the swine flu spreads, churches are doing what they can to keep members healthy.

” We have a moral and ethical responsibility to help people protect their health,” says Lincoln.

At Sacred Heart Church, Father Lincoln is changing several aspects of mass. This is something he’s never done in 18 years as a priest, he says altering tradition may be hard for some.

” Many people, for 70 or 80 years have taken communion on the tongue and not the hands,” says Lincoln. ” It will be hard.”

Typically, the consecrated bread is placed in the hand or on the tongue, now that’s changing.

” They’ll receive it in their hand and then they will put it in their mouth,” says Lincoln.

During communion, cups are traditionally shared, but this weekend wine isn’t passed.

” We’ll have no communion cup,” says Lincoln.

Another shared element is the holy water. On sundays thousands of people dip their fingers in the holy water bowls.

” People use it to bless themselves,” says Lincoln.

Now, the water will be changed more often and bowls are sanitized frequently. During blessings, Father Lincoln will not directly touch people’s face or hands. He’s asking others to do the same.

” Instead, just bow and say ‘ peace be with you,'” says Lincoln.

Other churches around the nation and here in the valley are asking people not to shake hands or hold hands during prayer. Some recommend bumping elbows or cutting out contact completely.

” During the ‘ Our Father,’ we hold hands. Now, that will be discouraged,” says Lincoln.

Father Lincoln isn’t alone when he says, stay home if your sick.

” It’s not a sin to miss Mass, protect your health and others,” says Lincoln.

KESQ News Team

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