Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu and Communion Wine

If nothing else the swine flu is sure creating memories for YaYa. It's the weekend of her First Communion (a mere 11 hours away now) and it's affected a score of things in Milwaukee. Knowing most kids, in twenty years time the only thing she'll remember about this weekend is that it coincided with the outbreak.

The most stunning example of its impact was at my niece's Communion Mass today. Before it began the Priest announced that, following 'suggestions' from the State and Archdiocese, the communal wine would not be offered at Mass. This was the First Communion day for dozens of kids, and they would not be receiving the wine.

Man, the shock hit my chest like a sledgehammer. I'm serious. Forgetting even the theological implications, its a massive blow to the protocol and tradition of the event. I can't come up with an equivalent example. A marriage ceremony where the exchange of rings is banned? An inauguration where the swearing-in is prohibited? A baseball game where the home team doesn't get a chance to win it in the ninth?

I'll give the Priest credit. He was a witty and charming man, and he denounced this all as paranoia. So he presented an option: the congregation wouldn't be offered the wine, but the kids receiving their First Communion would have the opportunity if the parents so chose. I don't know how many parent's vetoed it, but I'm thinking the number was zero.

Anyhow, I have no idea how YaYa's church will handle it tomorrow. We'll have to see.

* there are some nice pics from today and I'll *try* to post them at a later date*

After Mass we ditched three of the kids and took YaYa out alone to finish off some last minute Communion details. We also had some fun. We went to a rummage sale at a Methodist Church, where a lady presented YaYa with a free cross necklace in honor of her upcoming event (and I picked up a copy of Robert Penn Warren's Remember the Alamo! for less than a quarter). We also hit an estate sale, got myself a haircut, stopped at Half Price Books, and went out to eat, at YaYa's choice, at Carrabas Italian Restaurant (not a great meal for the $; we won't be going back.)

I did ask her at the bookstore if her love of books was genuine or just a means of identifying with me. She looked at me like I was crazy and pleaded with me to buy her a chapter book.

She thrives when she has alone time with us and it was a blast.

Anyhow, time for bed. Some more swine flu notes for posterity:

* Today the number of cases here has jumped from five on Friday to twenty-seven(probable) cases.

* A handful of public schools have closed, but MPS is warning all parents to make alternate arrangements for Monday. The rumor is all public schools will be closed until further notice, and the Catholic versions will follow suit.

* Some of the south-side Catholic schools with overwhelmingly Hispanic student bodies, including my old elementary school, have shut their doors.

* On Thursday night LuLu and YaYa's school was completely disinfected and sprayed down, whatever that means.

* At work a manager wasted an entire day disinfecting our computers and keyboards. This is a pointless task, given we're always mixing with the public and would have no real hope of avoiding it if it strolled through the door.

* I cleared my throat at work and a customer backed away saying "Are you sure you're not ill?". I think she was joking.

* A local store has a sign on their door saying "Avoid the swine flu - buy hand sanitizers here!"


Bernadette said...

Congratulations to Miss YaYa! What a big day :)
I sure hope they offer wine to the kids making their first communion...that was the part that really sealed the deal, getting to sip the wine like the adults.

We haven't been plagued by the swine flu scare yet. Although they have broadcast the 2 possible cases for about a week now on the news ;) I think it's a good thing, at least that's all there is to talk about.

Haven't been leaving many comments recently but I'm still dropping in to take it easy :)

Beth said...

It's a fine little and risk a very bad situation if it turns out to be a killer; or take too many precautions and look like the boy who cried wolf when it turns out to be not-so-bad. I guess I'd rather people err on the side of caution. It's only because this is an unknown entity in humans, and they didn't know how it would behave. I'm hoping that it will blow over fairly quickly, and stay mild when (if) it returns this fall and winter.

This is also going to result in some changes, I'm thinking. I read in our paper today that there are 48% of workers who have no paid sick leave. None. Many of these are lower-wage jobs, and the workers just can't afford to take a day or two with no pay. How can you advise people to stay home if they're sick, when they can't afford to miss even one day of pay? Or worse yet, be threatened with firing if they miss a day? Quite a dilemma.

By the way, when we were watching the President's press conference the other night, I said to Ken, "Two wars, an economic pandemic flu? What's next for the poor guy to deal with...a plague of locusts?" :) (Guess I'd better knock on wood now that I've said it.)

Slapinions said...

From Tre:

This is one of daily alerts my work put out in response to the swine flu "pandemic."

"Suggested Flu Supplies for Home

* Hand sanitizers
* Cleaning supplies (including chlorine based bleached solutions)
* Water for 6 weeks (one gallon/day/person)
* Food for 6 weeks (one can of Spam/person/day…)
* Cough suppressant
* Fever reducer
* Pedialyte
* Extra water filters
* Extra HVAC filters
* TV, PS3 / Xbox / WII games and DVDs because, really, do you want to be trapped in the house with the kids with out this stuff? "

Anyone remember the Y2K end of society paranoia?


Sybil said...

i have been thinking about you all all day. In fact we said prayers for YaYa at our Methodist Church this morning as we also had fear of us not being invited to partake of the communion wine !
I will be away from tomorrow morning till Saturday so will have to wait till I get back to read all about the events.
Hope you have all had a wonderful day.
Love Sybil x

Bridgett said...

Honestly? I think this whole swine flu thing is a little ridiculous. The symptoms are the exact same as a regular flu.

Simply do the things you do to avoid thet normal flu and everybody should be fine. I think it's being blown WAY out of proportion.

I do hope YaYa's first communion went well. Waiting for pictures. :)


Jeanne said...

I want to repeat Beth's comment, just what should you do? Nice reading. Hope YaYA's day went well

Amy said...

Congratulations to YaYa! Can't wait to see pictures. My mother's 2nd grade class made their Communion on Saturday 5/2. The priest explained to all of the parents (ahead of time) that they will offer the wine and the families would need to decide if they will accept it. If the children would not accept the wine then they would still bow their heads to acknowledge and respect it.

I agree with Bridgett's comments in regards to this flu. So far this strain is proving to be more mild than the seasonal influenza. There is bound to be cases within every community eventually (just like the common cold and seasonal flu). Are we going to shut down every school? I think we need to keep it in perspective and continue to practice good hygiene and common sense.