As the cold weather season approaches, we are hearing frequent reminders about getting a flu shot and becoming more careful about our personal health habits. The archdiocese also circulates a memo which addresses possible changes in how we celebrate mass during these times. You can find the guidelines in today's bulletin. I mention this because, if someone declines exchanging the sign of peace, he or she may be doing so out of health concerns.
At this time of the year, we also make available the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. Next weekend, at the 4:00 pm and 10:00 am masses, Fr. Jeremy and I will incorporate this sacrament into the mass. If you would like to receive the sacrament, I ask that you find a place near the central aisle. After the homily, we will proceed down the main aisle twice: once to lay our hands upon your head, and then again to anoint your forehead and the palms of your hands.
This is from the bishops' website, describing the effects of the sacrament: "When the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given, the hoped-for effect is that, if it be God's will, the person be physically healed of illness. But even if there is no physical healing, the primary effect of the Sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives the Holy Spirit's gift of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that accompany serious illness or the frailty of old age."