Fr. Mottola's Weekly Column

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October 24th, 2021

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Making Good Choices during Flu Season

               As the days grow shorter, I am mindful that: “The exact timing and duration of flu seasons varies, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October” (quotation from article entitled, “Flu Season”).  A memorandum was sent to all priests from the Bishop’s office, stating: “During this time, our people should be encouraged to offer prayers for those afflicted by the flu and for all health care workers as they care for the infirmed and monitor influenza activity in the Diocese of Rochester.  Be assured that all are remembered in my prayers, asking the Lord to heal His people and make us strong in His Holy Name.”

That memo from the Diocese is dated … January 24th, 2018!  I quote this old letter to remind us that mindfulness of our own health, and the health of others, has always been a part of our Fall and Winter routine, at least as far back as the 1918 Flu outbreak that coincided with the end of the First World War.

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan. In Asia, it was not at all uncommon to see people walking around wearing masks.  I gathered that the idea was, if you have the sniffles, it’s polite to keep them to yourself!  If you judge yourself well enough to come to Mass, but have a tickle in your throat or nose, you might consider taking extra precautions to help others feel comfortable, such as using the hand sanitizer available in our churches immediately after blowing your nose.

And if you are truly sick: please stay home!  Yes, the precept of the Church does state that “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2180), and yes, the Church does also teach that “Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin” (2181), but the Catechism specifically notes “illness” as a serious reason that excuses one from fulfilling the obligation to attend Mass.  So while it is of course commendable that we should go even to great lengths to assist at Mass, it is not necessary or prudent that we should do so if our coming to church would threaten the health of others.

Finally, I will take this opportunity to ask that if you know someone from our community who is sick, please call the office to let us know! It is unfortunately not uncommon that someone who has been taken to the hospital is admitted without our knowing about it.  In days gone by, hospitals were quite solicitous about informing churches of the arrival of sick parishioners, but modern privacy laws actually forbid them from making these calls.  While a hospital is allowed to tell us if a patient has specifically identified as a parishioner of a particular parish, that infor-mation is not always communicated or recorded accurately.  So please, if you have a loved one who is seriously ill or has been hospitalized, do let us know!

Take good care of yourselves, everyone!


God bless,

Father Peter