John Horvat II writes for LifeSiteNews — As the coronavirus spreads across the nation, officials are taking measures to ensure the health of the body. Sadly, the health of souls is brutally neglected.
A recent message on Twitter brings home just how shocking the situation has become. One woman wrote:
“Confessions have been canceled as well. God help us. If I die, I’m going to Hell.”
Her dramatic cry was responding to the news about how diocese after diocese announced the shutdown of all churches. Now all dioceses in America have canceled Masses and services. Adoration chapels have closed. Even Confessions has been canceled as all human contact must be minimized. People are left without spiritual help.
Distressed priests in their parishes are ordered to withdraw from their pastoral duties. Some are even told that they may hear confessions only in cases of death. Other directives discourage baptisms and last rites. We have been orphaned by a gigantic spiritual withdrawal.
The faithful are distraught. Some parents are resorting to baptizing their children. Others look for alternatives in vain. People fear for their eternal salvation.
A Deadly Secular Mentality
These closings are a sad commentary on the state of a nation that has turned away from God. Temporal and spiritual leaders are only considering material measures to fight the epidemic. These drastic measures targeting the spiritual welfare of the faithful are the consequence of a secular mentality that stupidly dares to quarantine God as a useless figure in the fight against the coronavirus.
Indeed, modernity’s liberal philosophy holds that everything can be resolved through technology, economics and material progress. This crass materialistic perspective celebrates the enjoyment of life as the supreme value. Suffering and tragedy must be avoided at all costs. That is why when the “tragedy” of an unwanted child appears, modern society says, abort the “problem.” Similarly, when a threat like the Chinese virus disrupts life, it must be ruthlessly and efficiently eradicated by modern “scientific” measures independent of any moral considerations.
According to this cynical philosophy, God, if He is considered as all, is at best a psychological comfort for the weak who have no faith in modern solutions. The New York Times writer Mattia Ferraresi, who understands nothing about the Faith, belittles church closures saying that “for believers, religion is a fundamental source of spiritual healing and hope. It’s a remedy against despair, providing psychological and emotional support that is an integral part of well-being.”
However, not even psychological comfort is granted to the faithful, in the handling of the coronavirus. God must be removed from the picture. Churches must be closed.
A Recipe for Failure
Such an impious way of acting is a recipe for failure.
History records just how disastrous this materialistic philosophy has been! Communist and socialist regimes have all based themselves on materialistic models of a society without God. Likewise, our liberal, practically atheist society operates as if God did not exist. Such a model has created a moral and psychological wasteland that progress and science cannot hope to address.
Wherever it has been tried, a society without God fails. A state that only deals with material goods will eventually suppress all things spiritual. When a godless state acts, it will always do so with brutality since it does not consider human nature’s superior spiritual side.
This superior side is what makes every person unique and establishes each one’s dignity. This recognition orients all toward their purpose in life and ultimately to God. National leaders that respect this spiritual perspective can act with wisdom, charity and understanding of human dignity.
Government Needs God’s Aid
In times of crisis, governments need God’s aid. They need the Church’s vast experience in dealing with adversity and tragedy. The Church is not a force that complicates the process of fighting the coronavirus. Rather the Church is an efficient and compassionate partner that will make the fight human, self-sacrificing and full of charity. When calamities strike, the Church has always served on the frontlines, not the sidelines. The grace of the Sacraments fortifies the faithful to better join in this fight.
To secure this much-needed help, temporal and spiritual leaders must consider the spiritual welfare of citizens. They cannot consign them to despair of their salvation like the poor woman deprived of confession. The Catholic code of canon law teaches that salus animarum lex suprema, the salvation of souls is the highest law. To what purpose are human lives saved, if the souls are eternally lost?
The Church maintains the nation’s largest private health care system. If given a chance, its ministers can easily find ways to administer the Sacraments, even inside the draconian health norms established by authorities.
What is missing in this fight is faith. Too many still cling to modernity and believe that government efforts alone can save the world. If that is the case, then all is lost, since so much corruption, sin and disorder reign.
Just because modernity denies the action of God in history, it does not mean God does not act. God does aid those who call upon Him. When natural solutions to modern problems fail, it is time to look for supernatural ones.
The coronavirus crisis will only be resolved when a humble and contrite humanity has faith in God who can do all things. He is directing human events. It is only a matter of following His divine indications.
[John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property].