This week we were ordered to stay in our homes. Doubtless this is a factor in containing the infection rate in Ohio and Kentucky, and we thank our leaders for taking decisive action at a time when everyone was scrambling to determine an appropriate strategy. Emergencies often reveal our unconscious assumptions and deeper motivations. Even at this early stage, I think Corona has revealed our inclination to isolation: how quick we are to pull back from others. We've become a nation of hermit crabs! C.S. Lewis, in The Great Divorce, describes hell as isolation—people moving ever farther away from each other. Hell is a vast dark plain broken only by a few widely-separated houses, each inhabited by only one person.
I am a professional religious, so to speak, and I “build” community. The Latin word religion means to re-connect, to re-ligare, meaning literally to “re-tie” two pieces together again. Syriac/Aramaic word for Church is of the KNS, meaning to gather (where the word sweep comes from). Religion begins with re-establishing our tie with God, and from there our tie with those around us. To do that we need open churches, as much as is possible. We need a House (of God) where all are welcome and all feel at home, in proximity with others (as much as is possible in a time of pestilence). It seems to me that some bishops were too quick to close our churches and forbid the sacraments, isolating people even more than the government required. Locked churches isolates people not only from each other but even from the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. It is quite possible to keep large churches open safely, (...Continues on page 2) (...Continues from page 1) by marking out distances, by sanitizing, by letting in only a certain number of people at a time. The supermarkets and coffee shops do it. Why can’t “religion,” whose essential business is to build community (with God first, and therefore with the entire human family)?
We are all trying to figure out “Why is God allowing this?” but I know that everything works for the good for those who love God (Rom 8:28). Is He using the Virus to clarify what is most important to us?. We have all become worldly, and a bit “agnostic.” Bodily health has become all-consuming to us. Agnostics think this life is all we get, and so dying is to be avoided at all costs. We should not be naïve: most of our media and government executives do not believe in God as we know Him; they suffer a hysterical fear of death, and they spread this fear to others. A noble and rational person would give his or her life for justice, beauty, honor, love, and above all for faith (as do the martyrs). They know that it is better to die for love than to live without it. God’s gift of faith, hope, and charity frees us from living in fear of death.
I beg you to make every effort, my dear people, to keep your faith and your peace during this epidemic. God is permitting the virus to deepen our faith. Let nothing trouble you, for you are in the hands of God. Convert and pray the Jesus prayer Daily. - Jesus, son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner -