Praying, for our
entire human family that the very thick fog of this pandemic war, for
fundamentally this is spiritual warfare, be dissipated by all Christ’s luminous
beauty, His radiant Truth, His healing love, that we will invite Him to shine
again in our hearts, filling our beings with His gifts of healing, peace, hope,
it is well to also recall the instruction of St. Peter:
…..humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that
He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares
for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like
a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith,
knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same
sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory through
Christ Jesus will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after
you have suffered a little. To Him be dominion forever. Amen. [1Pt. 5:6-11]
Each moment of our personal life, the lives of those we
love, the lives of every human being are gift, Love’s gift to us. This gift is
so precious we can only know ourselves and others, through His gift to us of
His Son who is always with us. Only in Christ can we if not understand all that
happens in life, at least be able to persevere if we stand in the Light of
Christ, with Him who helps us embrace all that the Heavenly Father permits,
including this pandemic, for our ever-deeper union with Christ, who suffered
and died for us, as the means by which the Holy Spirit comes to sanctify us.
Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are
Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. [Mk. 12:17] Right
now Caesar/governments are in various ways trying to protect public health and
precisely because of those ways many people are angry and resisting. Loud
voices stress infringement of human rights, which is a critical and moral thing
to do, yet in the clamour we hear little about concurrent human
responsibilities for the good of one another.
Political authorities are obliged to respect the
fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by
respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the
disadvantaged. The political rights attached to citizenship can and should be
granted according to the requirements of the common good. They cannot be
suspended by public authorities without legitimate and proportionate reasons.
Political rights are meant to be exercised for the common good of the nation
and the human community. Those subject to authority should regard those in
authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts:
"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution.... Live as
free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as
servants of God." Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at
times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to
the dignity of persons and to the good of the community. It is the duty of
citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society
in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. the love and service of
one's country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of
charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good
require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.
We are on the front lines of the current spiritual warfare,
a major stressor as we try and navigate between protecting our own health and
that of our families and community writ large yet not remaining silent and
complicit as governments abrogate more of our rights to simultaneously grant themselves
more and more power over the people.
There was a time when many young Christians would wear a
bracelet with WWJD on it: what would Jesus to? In this pandemic:
Here Jesus is wearing a mask.  Why would He do this? This
is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than
this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. [Jn.15:12,13]
No doubt rather than focus on the point being made with the
icon of Jesus showing Him masked, many will simply choose to react negatively
because choosing always, or at least struggling to so choose what Jesus would
do can be burdensome, frustrating, irritating and, frankly, embracing the Cross
with Him, carrying our cross with Him is no easy task but is an act of love and
fidelity and an intercessory offering for all our brothers and sisters.
Love Himself creates us gifting us with breath of life, with
among His many gifts that of our free will.
Embracing freedom in accord with His Holy Will, clearly
before us in the Ten Commandments, the Great Commandment and all teachings of
Jesus, at times is akin to life as a juggler, or worse as a tight rope walker
with poor balance!
God is present with us. This is an irrefutable fact. We, of
course, are free to accept His loving presence and help, nonetheless He assures
us: ….I chose you, I have not rejected you—Do not fear: I am with you; do
not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will
uphold you with my victorious right hand. [Is.41:9,10]
When the Black Death, in the late Middle Ages, devastated
the population of much of Eurasia the estimate is that bacteria infection took
between 75,000,000 to 200,000,000 lives, more than the estimated Spanish Flu, a
virus, deaths of the last century, 50,000,000 deaths. In the aftermath of the
pandemic the feudal society of Europe in the first instance, and modern states,
due to a combination of WWI and the pandemic, caused major shifts in matters of
religion, politics, economics etc.
Such shifts are already emerging in our own day and already
showing serious cracks in pre-covid society.
History also records during both the Black Death and the
Spanish flu information was both accurate and in accurate, conspiracy theories
were rife making discerning between objective-factual truth and fearmongering
speculation, if not outright lies, nearly impossible. In this pandemic, finding
objective truth, avoiding the quicksand of conspiracy theories and their
attendant tar pit of anger and fear, is a tremendous challenge and cause of
immense and unnecessary stress. With today’s modern media and the internet
finding the objective truth about the pandemic, vaccines, etc., etc., makes
finding a needle in a haystack child’s play.
More than ever we need the help of the Holy Spirit and His
gift of discernment and deep union with Christ who tells us: “If you remain
in My word, you will truly be My disciples, and you will know the truth, and
the truth will set you free.” [Jn.8: 31,32] Jesus Himself is the Way, the
Truth and the Life, as He says of Himself [Jn.14:6], only when we are
Christ-centered will we have the spiritual, intellectual, emotional stamina to
live and travel through this pandemic amidst the cacophony of voices clamouring
for our attention, all claiming to have the truth about everything. Such a
claim, of course, comes from the father of lies, the great deceiver and
The more time we spend listening to media reports about the
present global surge of infections and deaths, the more time we spend trolling
the internet for voices that agree with our own, be we accepting it is a
pandemic or not, the more stressed, angry, hopeless we become with what limits or
interferes with our ability to accept what we cannot control and surrender to
what is the permissive will of God.
As a human family we need to face this pandemic today,
without wasting time challenging those who agree with us or not but having love
for all to work together to get through this, accepting the fact as with any
major social upheaval of any kind, no one individual has the whole picture and
that the history of these days will be written decades hence. We are in the fog
and quagmire, the stress and seeming unending of this. As human beings we need
each other more than ever.
Now is not the time for arguments about the construction of
the Titanic or whose responsible for the iceberg, whether or not she is
actually sinking but to get into the boats and row.
……..during these months of pandemic, when we experienced,
amid the crisis, how “our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary
people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and
magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days
are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses,
storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport
workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety,
volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. They
understood that no one is saved alone… How many people daily exercise patience
and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How
many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in
small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their
routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are
praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all”. Each of us can
discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden
presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint
Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an
incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of
gratitude is due to them all. 
Decades ago psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross developed a
theory on the stages of grief when we lose a loved one: denial, anger,
bargaining, depression and in the end acceptance.
In terms of a beloved human being: grandparent, parent,
spouse, child, millions of our brothers and sisters around the world already,
and in the foreseeable future, have suffered, will suffer such pain-loss.
Either denied or being struggled with, the reality of a
profound sense of loss impacts everyone in this pandemic for we have lost the
normal of daily life, including the normal of communal worship, family
gatherings were no one is excluded, the camaraderie of going to work with
others, etc., etc., hence it is no surprise many, many people are in denial
about many aspects of the pandemic and angry about it, the restrictions imposed
by health officials etc. and the spike in people seeking help for depression,
stress, anxiety is ongoing.
Among the faculties we are gifted with when Love Himself
creates us, along with free will are: intellect, imagination, memory, all
connected to our ability to dream.
How we use each of those gifts, - in this time of war, war to defeat the virus,
war to defeat satan and his minions who are taking advantage of the virus in
their hatred to attack us, to weaken faith, love, hope, trust, - is critical.
The Desert Fathers considered the imagination to be a bridge
of the devils.
If, through any forms of modern media, prolonged
conversations with people who are constantly angry about everything, or who are
blamers of God for what is happening, if such preoccupies us, then we urgently need
to use our intelligence to call to mind the truth: we are Beloved Children of
the Father, Beloved Disciples of Christ, Beloved Temples of the Holy Spirit. Not
doing so becomes the bridge of satan into our minds, will, soul.
People are pre-occupied with all aspects of this pandemic,
the fracturing of society, many spending more time thinking about such things
than having quiet, loving time with family, with Sacred Scripture, with prayer,
all things which bring peace to mind, heart, soul, that peace which affirms
hope is greater than any virus, love more powerful than the chaos of these
Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand
firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and
blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of
this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on
the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having
done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in
truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in
readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a
shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet
of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. [Eph. 6:
This far north currently we get barely seven hours of day
light, the rest is the darkness of night, eased only, on clear nights, by the
moon and the stars. The weight of the darkness of the pandemic, which these
many months is twenty-four seven and ongoing, can only be lightened by the hope
and trust we have in Christ, soon to be born anew among us in the manger of the
cave – caves have no doors so all may enter believer or not, rich or poor, holy
or not – as Our Blessed Mother not only places the Holy Newborn in the manger
but, if we are willing to open the door of our being, She places Him also in
the manger of our hearts.
We should now, and not wait until Christmas, trust He is
within us and gaze into His eyes.
What we see is Love Himself, Light Himself, Life Himself,
Truth Himself, who comes as our way to the Father and gifts us with the Holy
He is vulnerable that we might not be alone in our
vulnerability, He is mercy that we are not fearful.
Like all little ones He kicks His feet and waves his arms
beckoning, as His smile illuminates the entire universe while being focused on
us because we are His joy.
He has come to meet us.
The light and joy flowing from His eyes heals, strengthens,
comforts, vivifies and His Heart beats powerfully with the fire of His love for
us telling us with each beat we are beloved and not to be afraid for He is our
1] Teaching on the 4th Commandment:
© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph