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A Leaven In The World… Stop Fear; Choose Faith

January 20, 2022 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK 

There are many things we should fear; the inevitable is not one of them. It is a fact that death comes for all who live. We began this new year of 2022 with continued abuse of trust through lies and scaremongering on the Internet and social media in connection with the dangers of COVID.
There used to be a tight wicket through which potential news had to pass before it could appear in what was once a plentiful field of newspapers thriving in healthy and self-policing competition.
This paper is one which continues that gold standard of factual basis required before publication. Integrity also requires retraction when errors are discovered.
The Wild West of the Internet has made separating fact from fiction more difficult than ever. Complicating this phenomenon is the collapse into yellow journalism of once-trusted big city newspapers.
The fear of death and dying has been exploited by the mix of fact and fiction in the COVID 19 phenomenon. The restrictions, the lockdowns, the masks, the mandates have contributed to a pandemic of anxiety and mental illness.
Now we must add to this the civil rights violations of firing workers and expelling military members who refuse the experimental injection. Yes, vaccines often work; but no vaccine can prevent death. A disease with a 97 percent survival rate never warranted such an aggressive campaign playing so loosely with the facts. Hesitancy is warranted when one adds to this the thousands of unexplained deaths among the vaccinated.
So, death is a fact. We encounter it every day — in the tragedy of a New York apartment fire, in the death of the elderly from the flu together with pneumonia or other underlying morbidities and in the stillborn baby. We are free to deny the fact of death if we choose. The consequences, however, are equally inescapable.
Without acknowledgment of death, life itself is half-born. Denying death gives birth to a thousand and one pathologies some of which, ironically, can bring about the dreaded end more quickly.
And these are merely the natural consequences. The spiritual results are eternally dire. The ancient spiritual and psychological quest for answers continues bidden or not, because the human person yet faces the same death that has haunted mankind since Adam and Eve were banished from Eden.
The greatest library of books setting down the Revelation of God retains fascination for mankind. We see a sign of man’s continued relentless pursuit of answers to the ultimate questions of life and death in our own day. The “Bible in a Year” series by Ascension Press reached the status of number one overall podcast in the United States last year.
Without guidance, however, man can make haywire of the Word to his own undoing. I once spent time with a grieving family after the suicide of a daughter, the act witnessed by her sisters. The children were with social services personnel while I met with the parents in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, upon their return from a day out on their pleasure craft.
The father refused my offer of prayer under the ruse that he was a fundamentalist and could not find common ground with someone he believed was in a false religion. The mother, meanwhile, frantically flipped the pages of a Bible looking for a random verse that would assure her that her child was not in Hell after taking her own life. Her futile searching could not bring her the consolation that the Catholic woman who took us in was able to provide: She simply shared the wisdom encapsulated in the whole of tradition, to include the Bible. “We entrust all who have died to the mercy of God,” she counseled.
Of course the Bible is intended as a help. But taken out of its context in the Church, which put the Word down in writing, this portion of Revelation cannot achieve its intended goal.
The search for God often begins for many with the Bible. The Word of God handed down in the Church was the only pillar left standing after the Lutheran revolt of the sixteenth century. America, deeply Protestant, often finds the printed portion of sacred tradition the first step of the journey back to fullness of faith together with the universal Church.
Some fear the Church. There are many reasons for suspicion. Add to its great size the endless bad PR and hesitancy is understandable.
Some fear what is big. When I was young and stepped out into the world for the first time, to attend college in the biggest of cities, I discovered a truth about the world. In the macrocosm of all that God has made, in all of its awe-inspiring variety and beauty, there yet remains always, around each one of us who seek it, a comforting microcosm of community.
How is intimacy with God, someone greater than it is impossible to imagine, made ours in communion with a worldwide Body of over a billion members? Through the experience of intimacy and immediacy upheld by the entire Body, which is both one in unity and universal in accessibility.
The desire for an intimate God of relation, of love, is bound up with all of the other questions which arise in the wonder of the creature who encounters all that is made.
Seeking answers in the Bible, or taking the search a step further in the communion of the Church, ultimately wants one thing: a future. We seek a means to access a vision beyond the grave. Fear is also involved in this seeking.
I believe that often the young are protected from the worst ravages of grief because they believe they will not die. This is why the tragic death of the young can bring such a hard blow to the psyche of their peers.
But aren’t we all called to believe ultimately that we will not die? The young and incredulous are correct after all. The core Christian belief of an assurance of victory with the Risen One should grow stronger as we advance in faith through life.
The joy of Christmas, once again the season of feasting upon us, is possible because the birth we celebrate is viewed through the lens of Easter faith.
Cynics will ever exploit the potential fear of death among unbelievers and the weak. The love of money and power among the unscrupulous is ever a temptation to sell the superficial, the appearance of life and everlasting youth. Makeup, plastic surgery, and skin creams would not be a big business otherwise.
But all of us ever have the potential for faith. We can face without fear the fact of death, dismissing the delusions which merely put off the pondering until the very last minute. Faith is the walk of truth because it is the virtue which entrusts the entire journey to the only One who can hold the keys to eternal life beyond death.
The One who made us and all that is invites us at Christmastime to once again rededicate with greater vigor our strength, heart and soul, not to fear, which estranges, but to faith. Faith only can offer an intimacy with Love itself, closer than which cannot be imagined.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Please support trusted Catholic journalism by subscribing to The Wanderer today.
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