Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Rochester Diocese guidelines during Coronavirus pandemic

March 12th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

 On St. Patrick’s Day a further revision was implemented by Bishop Matano: the suspension of all public Masses; in other words, priests say masses, but laity not allowed to attend. In practice since then, churches are locked during Mass so no one else can come in. The two objectives seem to be: 1) protect the priests (a dozen have died in Italy) from the laity, and 2) protect the laity from each other.

The full text of the St. Patrick’s Day policy pronouncement can be found here:


What follows below was based on the original release.

The following guidelines will remain in effect until further notice (from the Auburn Citizen):

• Catholics who are sick are asked to stay home.

• Those who feel at risk of exposure to the virus, especially the elderly and most vulnerable, are not obligated to attend Mass.

• The exchange of the sign of peace during Mass is suspended, and there is to be no holding of hands during the Lord’s prayer or any other time during Mass.

• Reception of the Precious Blood from the chalice is suspended.

• Instruction should be given to receive the Sacred Host without any unnecessary contact, such as in the hand, instead of on the tongue.

• Holy water fonts are to be emptied, cleaned and changed regularly, or removed entirely if deemed necessary.

• Only fresh water should be used for baptisms, and fonts are to be cleansed before and after every baptism.

• Attendees of Mass should sit appropriately in the interest of social distancing. If a Mass appears to risk having more than 500 people, or more than 50% of a church’s occupancy, it is advised that an additional Mass be scheduled to distribute the number of worshipers more evenly.

• All ministers should exercise good hygiene, particularly hand washing.

• Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned before and after Mass.

• “Those who are sick and desirous of the sacraments should have recourse to their priests, exercising prudence and charity,” Matano said.

Additionally, Matano said all calendar events should be assessed to determine which are essential and able to be held without difficulty. Education programs can receive guidance from the diocese’s Catholic Schools Office, which is located at Scheduled celebrations of the sacrament of confirmation through April 14 will be rescheduled as well.

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3 Responses to “Rochester Diocese guidelines during Coronavirus pandemic”

  1. avatar Diane Harris says:

    I’d like to make a Lenten spiritual reading suggestion for those in leadership roles in the Church, for anyone looking for appropriate reading during the corona virus siege, and especially for teens trying to make sense of what is right or wrong to do in the climate into which we are now all thrust, properly socially distanced, or not.

    The book I read during Lent 2012 was ‘Holy Man Fr. Damien of Molokai’ by Gavan Daws. I had postponed reading it because I was afraid I’d be repulsed; but Lent seemed like a good time; if I did feel repulsed, well it would be a good time to “offer it up.” I was delighted to realize, after completing Holy Man, that I had been mesmerized by the story, not repulsed by the detail (which was carefully crafted to reflect truth but not with the modern sense of needing to horrify in order to make the point) and that I was grateful for having met Fr. Damien in its pages. His heart for the victims challenges us today, in the present crisis, especially when the odds seem stacked against the provider of care.

    The story of this priest of the Order of the Sacred Hearts, who died of leprosy at age 49 in Molokai after 12 years of unstinted service to God’s most vulnerable, was declared venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1977, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995, and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009, and is now known as St. Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai, whose Feast Day is May 10.

    The great mystery of this book, revealed but not explained (and I think not ‘explainable’), is how an individual soul discerns the specific work to which God calls him or her, and then whole-heartedly commits himself to that work. Seminarian Damien (of Belgium) left so promptly for Hawaii, that his priestly ordination had to wait for his arrival there, and a bishop to ordain him. Damien never saw the members of his family again. By all accounts he was physically strong, building churches for the lepers, traveling many miles and even climbing cliffs to reach them. His first concern was for their souls, since given their despair at their diagnosis, it was easy for them to fall into all kinds of sins as well. Damien brought to them self-respect as children of God; he provided the Sacraments, some dormitories and schools for children whose parents died, some of whom had leprosy and some who didn’t. He willingly enclosed himself in isolation status with them, and long before he showed any signs of leprosy, he wrote often of ‘we lepers.’

    Besides indignities of his direct situation, Damien also bore the indignities of the self-righteous who believed that leprosy was a result of carnal sin. He aroused jealousy from those who would not take the same risks as he did, and who resented the notice he received. That such treatment was heaped onto his other sufferings only made him stronger in his commitment, although it doubtless delayed the investigation for his canonization. There are many good lessons here for pondering the threat of the corona virus, and for keeping a ‘good’ Lent. St. Damien, pray for us.

  2. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Redemptionis Sacramentum paragraph 92:

    92. Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.

  3. avatar Hopefull says:

    Some people close the church doors when the virus attacks; others open the doors and celebrate Mass. Some run away when the wolf shows up; others fight with their bare hands.

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