Don't let this administration address COVID-19 like our national gun violence epidemic. Fuck a National day of prayer, we need immediate comprehensive action, David Hogg wrote (David Hogg @davidhogg111. March 15, 2020) (Emphasis supplied.)
"The path to Heaven is narrow, rough, and full of wearisome and trying ascents, nor can it be trodden without great toil; and therefore wrong is their way, gross their error, and assured their ruin who, after the testimony of so many thousands of saints, will not learn where to settle their footing. From St. Robert Southwell
Here in these two quotations above are twin contrasting reactions to this current Covid-19 virus crisis.
I have not written much in a while? Why? Is it the winter blahs? Or is it the COVID-19 Virus? Or is it being shut in all day because, at 78 years old, I am one of the vulnerable seniors? Or is it because one Texas politician says we seniors should leave the warm wombs of our homes, save the economy with our spending, and run risks to our health as a sacrifice on the battlefront?
Perhaps the less I say about health, the better. I like to think I am ready at any moment for the big DEROS, but that just may be my male chauvinism and pride. What is the saying? Pride goeth before a fall¯? So maybe the next moment is my last, or the next hour, or day, or month? There is something about this in the Bible about being ready at any moment. We know not the hour nor the day is another set of words that trips heavily through my brain.
But let me get to the main reason why I am writing this.
The COVID-19 virus is a threat and scare for all of us. I have seen all sorts of internet reactions. I have read of people's fears and of dire predictions that threaten the entire human race. I have read that fifty percent of all human beings on earth will be affected and infected. I have heard on TV how death comes rattling deep within our lungs as we cannot breathe. This is not a quick death, but a slow suffocation that will reward us.
However, taking all that I have read and heard in review, I read very little about God. I read few emails that discuss prayer and petitions for help and mercy against the virus.
This hushed denial and reluctance to bring up God is not just a temporary thing, nor a minor momentary forgetfulness.
A few weeks ago, one of the great Wallendas, Nik Wallenda, walked on a one-inch wire tight rope high above an active volcano in Nicaragua. Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of The Flying Wallendas family (his wonderfully acrobatic wife who also thrilled us with our performance high above the volcano and is an eighth-generation circus artist), and he participated in various circus acts even as a child. Facing intense heat, poisonous gases and molten lava, he accomplished a history-making third-of-mile high-wire walk live on television Wednesday evening. This was his longest and highest high wire walk ever attempted, according to ABC news. He had to walk for half an hour on this narrow inch wide wire. Smoke rising up from the boiling volcano below covered him like a funereal shroud. Actually, he does not really walk, but he has to glide his foot forward and secure himself, then bring up his other foot.
"It was amazing, he related ...just being able to see that volcanic lava down there was absolutely mesmerizing. It's unexplainable."
In addition to a safety harness (required by the TV station to avoid liability, Wallenda wore a gas mask during the walk to protect him from dangerous haze over the volcano that he said caused his eyes to burn. He also had to battle the fierce winds, which he said was worse than during his televised walk over the Grand Canyon.
"They were unpredictable," Wallenda said of the winds. "There was a time when I was taking a step and I felt like I got knocked back."
Despite the obstacles presented by Mother Nature, Wallenda said the walk was "everything that I expected" and had prepared for. In an interview before the show, Wallenda said he had practiced blindfolded at his home in Florida to simulate the conditions over the volcano.
As he has during previous walks, Wallenda offered words of encouragement to the viewing audience during the stunt: "There haven't been many steps that haven't had fear in them. But let me tell you, you have to take that first step in order to fulfill your dreams...It's that battlefield of the mind. We choose what we allow in our minds and what we allow out. That's the key to my success: Getting rid of the negative and focusing on the positive."
I began watching this inspirational show from before he started but I did not know the outcome. Rather than worry about his fall, would it be better I thought to head to the fridge, pull out a cold beer, take a swig, and avert my eyes for a few minutes from this ghostly half-hidden figure on a long tight wire?
But I could not. Especially in view of what happened before he stepped off. He paused, raised his arms toward the heavens, and said (as near as I recall), Do you know why I do this? I do this for the glory of God. He had thanked God for preserving his life when he walked across the Grand Canyon, and over New York's mighty tall rising buildings.
For the Glory of God. That was his dedication for this televised.
Then as he walked that high tight rope, he talked with his audience and we could hear him over the radio hook up. Despite wearing a mask to keep his lungs free from the venomous gases and the swirling smoke, he told little jokes and make humorous comments. That was half the time. The other half, he spoke about God and prayer and his relationship to the Almighty.
This was not just a straight forward level walk. The wire descended 60 feet and then bottomed out before rising 60 feet at the ending portion. So, Wallenda had to descend and hold his grip and then even a harder task to climb up the far side still keeping his shaky grip.
As he neared the finishing point, he took off the mask. I thought I saw a smile on his perspiring face.
God had been good one more time to His servant.
The next day there were all sorts of laudatory media reports and clips from the daring walk. But do you know I did not hear one word about the Glory of God, nor of the walker's deep faith in the Almighty.
Why did the media skip that? Why does our media now leave out all mention of God? Of course, God does not exist, may be their defense. This is just a fairy tale like Santa Claus, or the Tooth Princess. Thus, all religious thoughts and expressions are to be shoved aside like so many children's stories.
This is not an accidental omission. It is deliberate and ultimately a disservice to so many human beings who now confront this frightful virus and all that it threatens in our world. It is not just one religious faith that should be enthroned and invoked although I firmly and completely believe in the Catholic Faith (with Jesus Christ as both divine and human, seated next to God the Father and Bread and Wine consecrated into His Body and Blood on our altars) as the Trinity watch how we human beings behave-- or is it misbehave?
But I have worshipped at Buddhist shrines all over Viet Nam and in other nations. I have visited in the Mid-East the holy Moslem places and mosques. I have gone to their 4:00 AM services and watched hundreds of men come into the mosque, some of them holding the hands of their sons. I have read Hindu mystics and attended Protestant services. I visit every year in Viet Nam at the Po Nagar temples on the hill high above the city of Nha Trang and its river. At the temple entrances, I take off my shoes, enter, and burn the incense sticks I bought outside and stick these into the sand filled bowl in front of the statues. I then pray to the Hindu deities.
Some may find these acts of worship to be a sacrilege or a denial of my Catholic Faith. But the word Catholic means universal. My poor limited brain cannot sort out all the competing dogmas nor can I condemn any of them as false.
It is simply for me God is here.
Let's get back to the media reports on the virus. People want and need more than just statistics and constant admonitions to wash our hands for twenty seconds with soap. People deserve an assurance, a sense that there is a meaning in all of this. We may not see a glorious end of victory. It is like the brave South Vietnamese soldiers who continued to fight on April 30, 1975, despite the fact that we Americans had abandoned them. In this current virus crisis, all of our tinsel world may vanish and we will collapse in defeat and utter sadness.
But we should not stop wondering and praying. There is a prayer that goes, O Lord, if there is a Lord, save my soul, if I have a soul... (From Ernest Renan.)
We may doubt Gods existence as we wonder about Him, but it seems like a mistake if we deny His existence only to find ourselves one Judgment Day standing before Him. The media should at least acknowledge that Paschal may have been right in his divine wager.
We also may be well advised to consider our sins before we die, rather than after our funeral.
So, let me point out some sins of our current society, for which I also must share some of the guilt and also as part of the human family have a need to seek forgiveness.
The first concerns our worship of our pets over caring for our brothers and sisters, especially the children. We recently celebrated the joyous time of Christmas.
This is the birth day of Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. He was surrounded by barnyard animals, probably very smelly to our sensitive Western noses. I am sure, however, the heat of their bodies warmed up that manger and thus the newborn child as well as His Mother Mary and father Joseph.
The star of this miraculous event was the infant, not the supporting animal cast who all deserve thanks but are not to be worshipped. However, if you review all the television offerings and advertisements at our Christmas time, you would find few words about the children all around the world who need food and warmth and love.
I did not see any such ads seeking our help and donations for these children. But there were a plethora of ads for us to adopt a pet, or pity the mistreated dog forsaken in the snowy cold, or shed tears for the wildcats facing extinction, or worry about the best cuisine for our thriving house animals. Or support a shelter rivaling our best hotels for animals.
Were there any ads to support homes for the needy youth? Or ads seeking contributions for malnourished children?
So here is Sin Number One which seems especially grievous at this elated time of Christmas when Jesus conceived in His Mother Mary's womb, was born a human baby in a straw-lined manger. While I love animals, a human baby is far greater than any snugly dog. Our major concern at Christmas should first be the needy children.
Let me go on to Sin Number Two. The First Sin number one is glorifying and exulting the animals over our human family. Sin Two is neglecting the needy families and youth throughout the world. We should take care of the animals. But we must first take care of the poorer and more vulnerable members of the human family. I read somewhere that 40,000 human beings die every day because of malnutrition and a lack of adequate food. There is another figure I recall that three million humans die every year from famine and starvation.
Perhaps these numbers are not the true ones. Maybe the numbers are more, maybe less. But the point is that many human beings lack the most basic necessities to preserve their lives.
Let's consider the first necessity, namely food. Consider all the crop fields and rice paddies overflowing with the nutrition we need. Consider all the waste from our sprawling tables that goes through the garbage disposals and garbage cans. How much unused food is there that fill the huge dumpsters behind the McDonalds fast food places. Our motto should be, Not a grain of rice grain gets wasted. We should find ways to assure that every human being on every day gets their daily bread as promised in the Lord's Prayer.
This is not happening. And this is an enormous sin, for as we eat too much, including overly rich calorie-drenched items, we get fat and lazy. Meanwhile we are deaf to our brothers and sisters who gently ask us, Feed the hungry.
This indictment can continue into life's other necessities such as clothing and shelter, education and jobs, where the distribution is so unequal in our societies.
The following should be our prayer authored by Venerable Louis de Granada: Oh, Jesus ….consider the throngs of the poor the hungry, the ignorant, and the feeble, who groan in their abandoned condition.
Enough on Sin Number Two.
Let us discuss one more as Sin Number Three. It carries the title of Permissive Abortion. Every year in America some one million tiny new human beings lose their lives and are exterminated in that holy place of their mothers wombs where they should be sheltered, kept safe, and appreciated and loved.
Since 1973 from the Supreme Court's decision of Roe vs. Wade, some 62 million human beings have been slaughtered in the wombs of American women. Around the world many more millions are killed, often using support from supposed charitable foundations from America.
Sixty-two million human lives? I can hardly type the words. I cannot believe these numbers. Should we use the term holocaust? I shrink from doing that because that enormous World War II crime against God's people deserves its own unique and sanctified remembrance. Let me offer one thought on this the worst of all war crimes that bothers me immensely. Sure, we can blame the Nazis and their evil ideas from Satan himself for the Holocaust. But the sad and difficult truth is that we in other countries, including our country--by our indifference, neglect, and, even worse, our behavior must share some of the blame for what happened.
Let us return to all those abandoned unborn. Can you think that sixty-two million human lives can be taken in that way with little or no excuse and that this very universe simply overlooks that? At one time in this struggle of prolife versus prochoice there was at least the apologetic view, I would never choose an abortion but for others this may be needed. But now abortion has almost become a sacrament, not something to be sorrowful about, not something that disturbs our conscience. And one of our two major political parties has no compunction to refusing any medical care when a human being survives the abortion and struggles for life on the operating table. After all, everybody wanted a dead baby, not some tiny human lives that fight to live. The deserted new life is just another part of the woman's choice.
I fear there is a mighty justice in the universe which will not overlook these three sins: worshipping our animals over human life; depriving millions of our brothers and sisters of life's basic necessities; and slaughtering millions of new unborn babies through permissive abortions.
Is God angry with us who are His children made in His image and likeness? Is this terrible corona virus, code-christened COVID-19, part of His powerful anger and punishment?
I do not think God operates that way. The law of the universe is not one payback for one sin. In fact, God eternally love us even when we buried in our squalid sins, even when we misuse and refuse His gifts. So how should we respond? Is there a repentance broad-enough that can apologize to God? Is there any atonement high enough to cover and make up for our guilt?
I do not know. But we had better try.
These sad words from the Servant of God Sr. Lucia of Fatima (remember Fatima?) should always remain in our thoughts: The greater part of [humanity] choose to be damned rather than to love Almighty God.
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