|The great hospital stay of '2012...
I had to exit the conversation, after begging the person to stay home if they're sick and being told that they absolutely would not (and that I should be thankful that I don't go to their parish...), to keep from saying exactly what I think of this attitude.
Thankfully, I have blogging, where I can say exactly what I think in a general way, which so often keeps me from saying what I think about a specific situation out loud (or stewing over what I didn't say for days afterwards).
I know Rebecca already wrote a great post on this topic, but after seeing it come up again and again this Advent/Christmas/flu season I feel that it really can't be said enough.
Please, if you're sick, stay home from Mass. You're excused. You don't need to confess it or agonize over whether it was a sin. It's not. When you're ill you don't have to go to Mass. It's really quite simple.
I was proud that I didn't miss Mass for years, that I was there, in agonizing pain days after my first c-section, that we braved dangerous roads and blizzard conditions to be there one Christmas Eve, and that as soon as I was released from the hospital we were bringing our newborn babies to the next Sunday Mass.
I don't think it's bad to push yourself to go if you aren't putting yourself or anyone else at risk. That's a personal decision to work out for yourself.
Everything changes though, when you're putting others at risk by going to Mass when you're sick. I know it can be hard, especially when an illness is being passed around through your family and it seems to go on and on and on. Believe me, I know what that's like.
And after the last two pregnancies and many, many viruses my OB pointed out this last time that it seems that any little illness sends me into labor now... which was the reason for all those trips to labor and delivery where James thankfully managed to stay put this last time.
Between my own experience and watching Maggie have a fever for roughly three months out of this past year, and going through round after round of antibiotics and tests and fears and doctor's appointments and hospital visits wondering whether something was seriously wrong, since she just wasn't getting better as the fever bounced from 99 degrees some days to 104 other days, my thoughts on going to Mass when a person is ill has crystallized.
It can be hard to imagine when you're healthy and the flu means being sick for a day or two... but for the very young and the very old and those with compromised immunity, a "little virus" can be life threatening... or even life ending.
Sometimes it's kinder to make the sacrifice not to go so that you don't endanger others and put them at risk for a hospital visit, or worse.
After all, even if you avoid others you're still likely touching door knobs and doors, pews, the holy water font and possibly receiving the precious blood (and that's not to mention air born viruses).
Jesus knows your heart. He knows that you want to be there. And he sees the sacrifice that you're making when you can't be there because you're putting others ahead of yourself and staying home. So please if you're sick, stay home from Mass. Those who go who aren't quite as strong and healthy will be grateful that you're not putting them at risk, and you'll get the rest that you need to get better as quickly as you possibly can.