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A Leaven In The World . . . Pandemic Brings Unseen Into View

May 27, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR KEVIN M. CUSICK

The Church and her work for souls, unseen and unknown so often by so many in a world which has made God so invisible, has in some ways become more tangible in these months when so much of “normal” life has ground to a halt.
Many of our physical activities and concerns, our business and mad rushing have been forcibly taken away. The quotidian distractions have been lifted so that other concerns can come more clearly into view.
Many families have spent more time together in the last two months than they have in years. Children have been sighted outdoors, doing such things as riding bikes. This is a rare thing indeed in the computer age.
Good wishes for health have become the norm in phone conversations with strangers. Computer ordering and home delivery have replaced some of the errands we habitually did at brick and mortar businesses. Many have by necessity found new ways therefore to spend more time usefully at home.
Perhaps the lessons on marital and familial togetherness won’t be lost going forward. Families cannot grow too close. On the contrary, it’s all too often too easy for marriages to fall apart.
Although the visible Church gathered for the Sunday Mass has been subjected like so much else to the realm of the virtual during the pandemic, some aspects of her life have been brought to the fore by the same.
Those who acknowledge God in normal times of free movement outside the home by going to Mass on the Lord’s Day have for the most part, we may hope, survived its privation during plague time restrictions.
Faith is of the intentions. A desire to be physically present at the Holy Sacrifice remains whether one is able to attend or not. This is the substance of a prayer of spiritual Communion.
A world investing so much energy avoiding God because He reminds us of Heaven or Hell, and therefore also of death, has been forced all the same to confront Him through the challenge of faith or its lack. This virtue is called for in good times and in bad.
Although it is commonly thought that “there are no atheists in foxholes” this doesn’t mean we won’t still strive mightily to keep Him in a carefully sealed box when human beings themselves on the home front are thought to be vectors of disease and death.
I recently answered a call to visit a woman in the hospital who may be in her last days on Earth. She lives in our parish boundaries and had for some time been suffering the battle scars of a struggle against cancer.
A recent treatment with the incorrect chemo had sent the woman’s blood indicators plummeting, leaving her vulnerable. She had been transferred to isolation at the hospital to avoid the added danger of infection.
A family member called on her behalf after confirming the appointment with her. I reported properly masked in what has become “the uniform of the day” to the hospital on a Sunday afternoon.
After an initial request to go to her room was denied, I pressed again. The phone operator at the front desk assured me it was for my “protection” that the patient’s possibly dying request was being denied!
The rumors of COVID patients, and now also those suffering other maladies, dying alone despite their desire for the last sacraments is a real one, apparently. The receptionist asked if I couldn’t just take care of “it” with a phone call.
I responded that no, I couldn’t, and that this is what I do, “go into harm’s way to save souls.”
She called the nurse’s station on the patient’s floor a second time and persistence paid off. I was able to visit the woman and give her the visible signs of the invisible God.
Perhaps in that scenario a few persons who believe Christ is reducible to a phone call may have been disabused of that fallacy.
What cannot be accomplished via telephone in the time of pandemic is for that reason all the more real and thus incarnate. Christ lives in His Church and in her sacraments.
I suspect I received as much or more consolation as did this suffering soul in that moment of confirming faith shared through, with and in Christ.
I left her, after having kept my visit short to decrease her potential exposure to possible infection. As I did I thought about the great necessity of faith’s power, which in her solitude would summon the presence of Christ to relieve its worldly oppression.
This invisible power of faith, this grace, is necessary for all of us, but perhaps less apparent amid the stuff of what we term our daily normal routines of work and play.
Faith is necessary for salvation. It is also necessary therefore to “save” the moments great and small of each day, with all its encounters and events, as signs and promises of eternal life.
As I shared with the woman in the hospital room, we have been made for life and this desire, hard-wired into our intellect and will, seeks always its fulfillment, deny it though we may. The very idea of death, of an ending, is rebelled against notwithstanding our human mortality.
Stumbling forward on the path to the very end of this mortal confine and “coil,” plumbing it fully for the lessons it offers, is not to be feared. It is, rather, the very beginning of that life we seek, for it is the very moment in which faith can truly begin.
Only when the distractions which represent all that cannot last are removed do we confront faith or its lack.
This time of the coronavirus we may hope has helped many to enter into such a grappling, retreat-like encounter with God. It is always a helpful, although a nearly always also uncomfortable, jolt.
We can do this at any time. We don’t have to wait until the world, afraid as it is of death and without the ability to provide an answer to its dilemma, forces us to do so.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. You can stay in touch any time by visiting my blog at APriestLife.blogspot.com,

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