Pandemic Alters Rituals In Christian Churches In The United States

New York – Eucharist will be different when face-to-face masses resume in late May in Knoxville, Tennessee Catholic Diocese: priests and deacons wearing face masks and safety glasses will put the hosts symbolizing the body of Christ in the hands of parishioners .

Equally shocking changes in the Eucharist will be implemented in Catholic and Protestant churches across the United States in the coming weeks, as restrictions on large gatherings imposed by the coronavirus outbreak are gradually lifted.

Many churches that previously encouraged their parishioners to drink wine from a community chalice will discontinue that practice, at least temporarily. In some cases, clerics will be instructed to use hand sanitizer before starting the sacrament.


Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C., Mariann Budde, said she and about 60 of her fellow bishops will meet Wednesday to discuss possible adjustments to the Eucharist and other rituals.

“I do believe that new practices will emerge from crises like this,” he said. “They come from communities that experiment, break down barriers. You don’t know how that process will turn out.”

The Catholic Church represents the majority of Eucharistic services nationwide.

Under their governance system, decisions about the logistical details of the communion rest largely with the individual bishops.

In the past three weeks, high-level bodies have issued at least two sets of guidelines to the Catholic clergy. There is one difference that stands out: the guides of the Washington-based Tomista Institute indicate that you can continue placing the hosts to receive Communion in the language of the parishioner or in the hand. The guidelines of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions indicate that receiving the host in the language should be temporarily prohibited.

Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika, in his detailed instructions for the resumption of face-to-face offices, was clear on this point: Receiving the host in the language is “strictly prohibited at this time.”

Parishioners are instructed to stand in a single line – and stay about 2 meters (6 feet) away – and then they will receive the host in the palm. There will be no wine for them.

The priest or deacon will wear a face mask and safety glasses during the sacrament, Stika said. The parishioners will be instructed to wear masks throughout the mass, which can only be removed at the time they receive and consume the host.