Recently when I attended Mass at a church in the East District, it was made known to the congregation that Holy Communion would not be given on the tongue and when it  was given on the hand, it would be done with no physical contact made between the priest and the communicant.  This according to the young priest was an edict from the Archbishop in order to prevent any outbreak of the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) here.

During communion time, I observed that the priest took the precaution of avoiding physical contact when giving Holy Communion to communicants on the hand.  It appeared awkward as if he was giving a piece of wafer to lepers.  I could understand his action if we stood in danger of an imminent Ebola outbreak in which case Catholics would abstain from receiving Communion or even stay at home

What has happened to our faith in God's providence?  Has it withered in the face of the threat from the HFMD?

Don't we any longer believe in the power of the Body of Christ to protect and preserve us from all evil and harm?

It was ironic - after what had transpired - to hear the priest utter the Prayer after Communion: "Lord, may we always receive the protection of this sacrifice.  May it keep us safe from all harm."   I found it hard to reconcile his words with his action.

Many Catholics are upset over this matter.  They feel that the Catholic Church in Singapore should not over-react but continue to give Holy Communion either on the tongue or the hand, fully believing that Jesus' own Body will keep us safe from all harm.

If it is any consolation, perhaps one solution that may help the priests to continue giving Holy Communion on the communicants' tongue without them touching the mouth or tongue is to have slightly larger hosts.

Surely, there are unsuspecting ways the HFMD can be transmitted in church even after taking every possible

precaution.  If we as a faith community do not trust in God's providence and protection it will be better for all Catholics to stay at home until it is safe for them to return to church.

    Nelson Quah

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