Letters from 6 to 12 August 2007
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Eucharist and the art of motorcycle maintenance
After reading the
article on the home page, it did set me to thinking.
I would hope that both the priest and eucharistic ministers gave their hands a thorough cleansing prior to the beginning of the
service. Whether they do this with triclosan-impregnated hand soap or with some form of ethanol-based hand sanitizer, it doesn't
matter. Plain soap and water will do nicely, if they wash long enough, according to the Wikipedia link you supplied.
Using hand sanitizer should not be a necessary part of the lavabo.
I suppose if someone wishes to do so, well, OK. But I think good hygiene would be implied in someone handing out the Most Precious
Body and Blood. There are times I've felt just a bit embarrassed coming to the rail on Sunday morning after having spent part
of Saturday doing motorcycle chain and sprocket maintenance. Grime of that nature often is not completely removable, except by
time. Thankfully, I can't recall a priest I've known who was either a motorcyclist or sidelined as an auto mechanic. Of course
now such professionals wear latex or nitrile gloves. Hopefully, we won't come to require those administering the sacraments
to do likewise.
St. Andrews Episcopal
Panama City, Florida, USA
6 August 2007
Although I can sympathize with the editorial writer
with regard to excessive use of Purell and I entirely agree about the spiritual nature of the lavabo, there are larger issues
in play here. Anyone who lived in Toronto through two SARS outbreaks will be aware of the atmosphere of fear which ran through
our churches. Post-SARS, everyone is still aware of the dangers of infectious diseases passed largely by hand. Parish practices
vary widely and many include the availability of Purell for congregants as well as clergy and communion distributors. Many also
retain the traditional lavabo followed more discretely by Purell. Somehow the deaths, fear and near panic of the SARS days make
it difficult to be frivolous about this issue.
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
7 August 2007
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