Regarding agoraphobia and the sign of peace, we wish to express our extreme thanks for printing both of these articles, side by side.

First, agoraphobia (finally someone addresses this very real issue), the hand shake at the sign of peace and holding hands during the Our Father, blends right in with several reasons why Catholics no longer attend Mass.

Here we are attending Mass, in the most reverent part of the Mass, about to receive the body and blood of Christ, with all the quiet and reverence, that is soon to be interrupted by this noisy unwelcome gesture. It is disruptive enough during the summer months, then when you add in the cold and flu season, the coughing, the sneezing, the illnesses going around, we are told to extend our (now contaminated) hands and spread the germs from one another to another. 

Then it just gets worse, the priest and eucharistic ministers shaking their hands among themselves, spreading more germs and their next act? Touching every host as they administer holy Communion. There are people who have stopped receiving Communion because of this (especially in winter) unhealthy habit and others taking it a big step forward, not attending church at all.

Another issue is the holding of hands during the Our Father. Some of us have taken the stance of prayerfully having eyes downcast or shut, (and how devout is that?) while folding our own two hands in the prayer symbol, as we join our voices in prayer. It truly is not acceptable for others to fear attending Mass, because of issues that could be fixed, before each Mass, with a simple announcement about not having to hold or shake hands, while a friendly smile or even a knuckle bump might do. 

Thank you for helping keep everyone at Mass, as healthy leaving as they are coming in the doors.

E. Richardson

St. Amant