Flu on Minds During Mass

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SCRANTON -- The sign of peace, communion, and the holy water: traditions that are all being adjusted at Masses across the country and right here in Scranton because of the flu.

"The flu this year is particularly aggressive. A lot of people are suffering from it both locally and around our country," said Bishop Joseph Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton.

Catholic leaders from the Diocese of Scranton have notified parishes what precautions should be taken to help prevent the spread of the flu. Those precautions apply to both parishioners and pastors.

"We are simply just instituting some very common sense practices, reminding people really of the way they should approach worship," explained Bambera.

Some parishes have stopped sharing wine during Holy Communion for now, holding hands during the Lord's Prayer, and recommend avoiding contact during the Mass.

"I think the best thing to do is to smile. Don't shake hands in all honesty," said churchgoer Joan Narcoonis of Olyphant.

Narcoonis worships at St. Peter's Cathedral and is being especially cautious this flu season.

"It's frightening. I have not had the flu. I do not want the flu. I do not drink from the cup, even though my husband is a Eucharistic minister, and he probably would say, 'Why?'" said Narcoonis.

Despite adjustments being made to Mass because of the flu, Bambera tells Newswatch 16 that faith and tradition will not be sacrificed.

"I'm going to smile at people and nod and wish them peace," said Jim Soltis of Tunkhannock.

"You don't have to shake hands. You can simply just acknowledge the person and wish them well and the Lord's peace," added Bambera.

For more information on how you can prevent the spread of the flu, you can find CDC's preventative steps here.

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