Last Monday the Bishops Conference updated its guidelines over Coronavirus, and these were implemented as mandatory by the Archbishop of Southwark by decree. The full guidelines can be found on their website; we are now in ‘stage 2’. Please bear in mind that we are being asked to follow the advice already given about hand washing, the use of tissues, etc.
As before we are summarising here the essential points in relation to Mass and other acts of worship and adding some of our own.
The sign of peace is suspended.
Holy Communion from the chalice to the people is suspended.
Those who normally receive the Host on the tongue are encouraged to receive it on the hand.
Holy water stoups have been emptied.
We have been asked to stop the use of hymn books. Single use hymn sheets will be provided; please take them home with you and also for your own use your Mass sheets, (and perhaps look at the Bible readings during the week) – don’t leave them in church. Please take a newsletter home with you; don’t leave one here if you pick one up.
At Masses at the convent the recitation of Morning Prayer at the beginning of Mass is suspended because this involves the use of shared office books.
We are suspending refreshments after Mass on Sundays as they involve shared-use crockery and utensils. The Drop In Cafe for those with memory loss has also had to be closed for now.
Clergy and special ministers will cleanse their hands with gel before the distribution of Holy Communion. If you have gel yourself you might want to bring it with you to Mass if you’re likely to greet people (if we keep some by the door it might ‘walk’ as it is not easy to get it at the moment).
If you do continue to receive the Host on the tongue, please open your mouth in such as way as to minimise the risk to the person giving you Communion from touching your tongue or saliva.
If you receive on the hand, please hold your left hand out flat to minimise the risk of the person giving you Communion from touching your hand.
If you self-quarantine, do let us know and we hope that at least some of you will be able to watch Mass through our website. If you become seriously ill let us know and a priest will come and administer the sacrament of the sick and other sacraments.
If the guidelines change we will let you know as soon as possible. Please bear in mind that these guidelines have been issued in the light of the best medical and scientific advice and that compared to many parts of the world the inconvenience here is minimal.
Please pray for those affected by the virus and for those in the medical services.