Our reaction to the coronavirus reflects the crisis of our secular godless society.
The problem is not the virus—as potentially lethal as it might be. This outbreak is a biological fact, like so many that have plagued humanity over the ages.
While a virus is apolitical, it can, however, have political consequences. Much more volatile than the coronavirus is the fear of it. A coronaphobia is rattling the globe. In this sense, the reaction to the coronavirus is extremely political and secular. It reflects a society that has turned its back on God. We face the crisis trusting only in ourselves and our devices.
Man All Alone
Indeed, the management of the coronavirus crisis accepts no help from outside. God has no meaning or function inside all the efforts to eradicate it. In God’s stead, there are the immense powers of government mobilized to control every aspect of life to prevent its spread. The mighty arm of science scrambles to find a vaccine. The worlds of finance and technology are brought to bear to mitigate the disastrous effects of the crisis.
While all human efforts must be used to solve the problems, they have not produced the desired results. Present attempts have disappointed a frenetically intemperate society addicted to instant, push-button solutions. The world has been forced to shut down with no definite timeline as to when the crisis will end.
For this reason, it is so terrifying. There are few mitigating institutions like the Church to make its treatment humane and bearable. We are left alone to face this great danger. The tiny virus isolates and alienates its victims, taking them out of society. In many cases, it is the individual against the State. Technicians in hazmat suits treat men and women as if they are the virus. In totalitarian China and other places, officials employ brutal violence to force compliance with drastic directives.
No Longer in Need of God
A virus is also a-religious. However, that does not prevent it from having a religious dimension. The coronavirus comes at a time when most in society feel they do not need God. For these, God has long been replaced by bread and circuses. The modern pleasures point to no need for heaven. The postmodern vices proclaim no fear of hell.
And yet the coronavirus has the uncanny ability to turn our material paradises into hells. The cruise ship, the symbol of all earthly delights, became an infected prison for passengers who did everything possible to get out. Those who have made sports their god now find empty stadiums and canceled tournaments. Those who adore money now find decimated portfolios and quarantined workforces. The worshippers of education look at their empty schools and universities. The devotees of consumerism face bare supermarket shelves. The world we worshipped is tumbling down. The things for which we glory are now in ruins.
A small microbe has toppled the idols that were once thought so stable, powerful and enduring. It has brought their worshippers to their knees. And we still insist that we do not need God. We will spend trillions of dollars in the futile hope of patching our broken idols.
However, one aspect of the coronavirus crisis is still worse. It is bad enough that God is replaced or ignored. We have gone one step further. God is banished from the scene; He is forbidden to act.
Among the draconian measures decreed, government officials are forbidding public worship. In Italy, they have banned Masses, stopped communion and confession. The Church and its holy sacraments are considered an occasion of contagion, treated no different than a sports event or music concert.
In their turn, the media mock the Church claiming that even God has been self-quarantined.
A Crisis of Faith
Sadly, some Church officials are only too willing to comply with such measures. They deprive the faithful of the sacraments just when they needed them most. They go beyond what officials ask even to the point of emptying fonts of their holy water and replacing them with sanitizer dispensers. They discourage the giving of the Last Rites.
Not even miracles are allowed. Church officials unilaterally closed the miraculous healing baths at Lourdes, in France! Those miraculous waters have probably cured every disease known to humanity. Is this coronavirus any more lethal?
Such is the state of our Faith in crisis.
The Solution Lies in Reinvigorating Faith
Some might object that taking a non-secular attitude toward the virus requires a leap of faith. However, we must ask which is the greater leap of faith—to confide in Holy Mother Church or the cold hands of a State that had already shown itself incapable of solving society’s problems?
We have every reason to confide in God. The problem is that we allow officials to treat the Church as if She knows nothing about healing bodies and souls. They have conveniently forgotten that the Church is a mother. She established the world’s first hospitals during the Middle Ages. The foundations of modern medicine are rooted in Her solicitude for the sick. She handled each patient as if Christ Himself. Thus, the Church sent orders of priests, monks and nuns to provide free health care for the poor and sick all over the world. Down through the ages, amid plague and pestilence, we find the Church in their midst, ministering to the infected despite great dangers.
Above all, the Church cared for the souls of the suffering sick. She comforted, consoled and anointed the afflicted. She maintained countless shrines, like Lourdes, where the pilgrims are rewarded for their faith with peace of mind, cures and miracles.
In times of plague, the prayers of whole communities might rise to ask God to come to the aid of a sinful society in need of His mercy. History gives testimony that these prayers were often heard.
When the Church acts as she should, she prevents crises like the coronavirus from becoming inhuman and overwhelming. Like a mother, she provides consolation and hope in moments of darkness. She reminds us that we are not alone and should always have recourse to God. It makes no sense to banish God from the fight against the coronavirus.
Turning to God
Indeed, the coronavirus crisis should be a call to reject our godless society.
This crisis threatens to go beyond the health crisis and bring down the American economy. We must, therefore, ask why God is replaced, ignored and banished. It is time to turn to God, who alone can save us from this disaster.
Turning to God does not mean offering up a symbolic prayer or holding a procession in the hopes of returning to lives of sin and intemperate pleasures. Instead, it must consist of sincere prayer, sacrifice and penance like that requested by Our Lady at Fatima in 1917.
Turning to God presupposes an amendment of life in the face of a world that hates God’s law and barrels toward its destruction. It means acting as the Church has always done, with commonsense, wisdom, charity, but, above all, faith and confidence. All of these Church remedies, full of comfort and healing, are within the grasp of the faithful.
Turning to God does not mean we deny the role of government in handling public health emergencies. However, Faith must be a major component of any solution. God is with us. We should confide in the Blessed Sacrament, the Real Presence of God in the world and the God Who created us. We should have recourse to the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Health of the Sick, and Mother of Mercy.