NASHVILLE, TN — The ongoing flu epidemic is effecting everything, even sacred ancient rituals.
According to NewsChannel 5, Catholics attending Mass at Nashville’s Cathedral of the Incarnation Sunday were offered only the host during Eucharist, but not the wine, as church leadership determined the sharing of the chalice might spread the flu virus which has already killed seven Tennesseans.
"Whenever there’s a large group of people from infancy to quite elderly, we don’t want the church to be the place where they contract the flu," Father Ed Steiner told the station. "So out of an abundance of caution we’re just taking care of our people."
During the Sign of Peace, Steiner further encouraged the exchanging of fist bumps rather than handshakes in a further effort to curtail the flu.
Eucharist where only the host is offered to the laity is known as "communion under one kind" and was the widespread practice worldwide between the Middle Ages and early 20th century; a dispute over whether lay people could receive the chalice in addition to the host even sparked the Hussite Wars in the 15th century in what is now the Czech Republic.
By the time of the Second Vatican Council, the sharing of both host and cup was becoming more commonplace and communion under both kinds is the de facto default for most Catholic dioceses in Europe and North America, except in Ireland.
Catholic doctrine still permits communion under one kind, however, because "Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace."
Image via Diocese of Nashville