I hope that all is well. Once again, let’s stay closely united in prayer as a parish during this time.
I wanted to write with some of my own thoughts on how you and I can respond in faith to the uncertainty during these times. There is uncertainty about health, the economy, and more. We have seen a mix of reactions these past few days. Some people are disturbed to the core of their being. Others are altogether ignoring and scoffing at the warnings and living their life as if nothing is happening.
What should our response be as Catholics?
First, some people think that if we really were unafraid or trusted in God, we wouldn’t pay any attention to the virus. We should keep doing what we are doing.
Even the most fearless boxer ducks. Soldiers and others who put their lives on the line for others so courageously and fearlessly know they need to find cover, protect themselves and their unit, and often stay behind the walls of their base. They protect themselves and others so they can engage courageously in battle when the moment is right.
Being fearless does not mean being foolish. Trusting in God doesn’t mean putting aside the gift of reason that He gave to us. We are called to be stewards. It’s one of the great signs of God’s love for us and His trust that He gives us free will and the ability to be a steward in the world that He has created. If our intellect and reason tells us that there is a threat coming to ourselves, our family, our loved ones, and our community, we do what we can to avoid and counter-act that threat.
The Lord Himself would leave a town or go somewhere else when He knew that people might kill Him before His time, because He knew He still had work to do. He would “alter His plans” based on a threat.
Being prudent and wise, then, should not be mistaken for being fearful or lacking trust. It may actually be a sign of a lack of charity, intentional or not, for us to put the lives of others at risk by not doing our part in the face of the virus, within reason and with proportionate measures. If we ignore the restrictions that are meant to prevent the virus from hurting our loved ones and our community, we are endangering people’s lives which could show a self-centered and uncharitable attitude.
At the same time, even in the face of the greatest threats, the saint is at peace. He or she is not afraid. He doesn’t worry. He sees it as an opportunity to grow in holiness. He knows that God is there at his side. He trusts that God is in control and knows what is happening. He trusts in the power of prayer to help and assist. To take the most extreme case, the world could be crumbling, the economy could be in shambles, his or her health could be deteriorating rapidly, but the saint would be unafraid, at peace, and full of joy, because he knows that all will be well, God is at his side, and God loves him. He knows that he has all that he needs, he wasn’t made for this life forever, everything in this life fades, and he hopes to be with the Lord soon forever in eternal peace and happiness.
Most of us are far from saints, but we can see in the response of the saints, who we are called to be. In the face of the virus and uncertainty, it may be natural to experience some doubt and anxiety and worry about what the future holds, whether about health or the economy or more. However, if we are not putting our trust in God, if we are treating this life as if it were all that mattered, if we are not turning to God in prayer, if we are acting as if everything depended upon us and panicking, if we are unduly worried about material possessions or luxuries that may be lost, if we are not at peace no matter what comes, then it is a sign that we are not responding in faith on one level or another.
In the days ahead, we ask for the grace to respond with faith, with trust, and with prudence and charity so we can continue to witness courageously to the presence of Christ in the world.