Beginning with masses the weekend of Jan. 19-20, churches in the Diocese of Allentown will implement two directives changing liturgical practices to protect the health of others during flu season. These directives are temporary and will remain in effect until Bishop John Barres withdraws them.

Under these directives, reception of Holy Communion will only be of consecrated hosts, which Catholics believe is the body of Christ. The practice of drinking from a chalice of consecrated wine, which Catholics believe is the blood of Christ, is suspended. Catholics believe that in the Sacred Host is contained the entire body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Therefore, receiving from the chalice is always optional.

Also under these directives the exchange of the sign of peace is to be offered without any physical contact. If the priest chooses to extend the invitation for the sign of peace, the faithful, instead of a handshake, may bow or nod to the persons nearby.

The diocese encourages the clergy and faithful to observe the necessary standard precautions to protect the health of others during this flu season, and especially with the risks related to the flu.

The coming changes will be announced in all parishes in the diocese this weekend.