Let Us Pray For Our Bishops:
Please can I ask you to pause for just a moment to offer up a ‘Hail Mary’ for our Irish Bishops in these extraordinary times in which we are living. Catholics right across the world are being denied access to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Nothing in this world is more important than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, instituted by Christ Himself, and yet worldwide, in the face of the corona virus pandemic, the public are denied access to Christ, truly and substantially present, body, blood, soul & divinity, in the Most Holy Eucharist. In many places, including Ireland’s National Catholic Shrine here at Knock, the sacrament of confession has also been suspended.
The Powerful Sacramental of Holy Water:
Holy Water can act as a protection against disease, and according to St Thomas Aquinas, Holy Water remits “venial sin in the measure of which it excites to contrition” in the one who uses it. The Catholic Church teaches us that Holy Water and is also a strong defence against the wiles of the evil spirits. But the Holy Water has been removed from outside of our Catholic Churches and replaced with hand sanitizer. I doubt that hand sanitizer has any effect on the devil nor is it capable of remitting any venial sins.
These are the extraordinary times in which we find ourselves and it is very important for Catholics to adopt a supernatural outlook. There is no need to panic, there is no need to seek signs and wonders or to speak in Apocalyptic terms, but we must simply read the signs of the times.
“But he answered and said to them: When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. And in the morning: Today there will be a storm, for the sky is red and lowering. You know then how to discern the face of the sky: and can you not know the signs of the times?
A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. And he left them, and went away.” (Matthew 16:2-4)
The Holy Season of Lent:
It is no coincidence that this pandemic is occurring during the Holy Season of Lent and, from a supernatural viewpoint, it offers us a great opportunity to do penance and to make reparation for our past sins and for the sins of the whole world. I attended Holy Mass on the second Sunday of lent, and I was expecting to be able to receive Holy Communion as I was at a Latin Mass. The priest announced that Holy Communion would not be distributed as the local bishop had issued an instruction to this effect. At first, I was taken by surprise, but then I realised that this was an opportunity for sacrifice. I was filled with joy at the thought that I was being presented with an opportunity to make reparation for the times when I had received Holy Communion without due regard for this great gift that Christ has given to us. I had an opportunity to make reparation for the times in my late teenage years and early twenties when I had sinfully refused to fulfil my Sunday obligation to attend Holy Mass.
I also realised that a great sacrifice also presents us with an opportunity to ask God for great things. To ask God for the conversion of our family members who have gone astray; to ask God for a deepening of our appreciation for the One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church; to ask God for an end to abortion; to ask God for the restoration of the Sacrament of Matrimony in the world; to ask God for Holy vocations to the priesthood and religious life; and to ask God to restore the faith of priests and bishops who have lost their way.
Never Waste a Good Crisis:
There is a saying in the political world that one should never waste a good crisis. Let us make sure that we Catholics do not waste this time of unprecedented crisis in our beloved Catholic Church. Let us refrain from constant complaining and from trying to guess what exactly God is up to. We must carry on living as Catholics and bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel and of Catholic Church teaching. Let the passing of this crisis, and it will pass, find us further along on the path of holiness. Let us remain Catholic and calm in the face of adversity.
What is the worst thing that can happen to us during this time? Perhaps we and all our family members will contract Covid-19 which will lead to our untimely deaths. The only question for Catholics in this “worst-case” scenario is, “are you ready to meet Christ for your particular judgement?” If you not ready, and which of us can confidently say that we are truly ready? then now is the time to prepare. A Catholic should always be ready to die by always striving to live as a good Catholic should live. St Paul speaks to the Thessalonians about this.
“But of the times and moments, brethren, you need not, that we should write to you; For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall so come, as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape.
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. For all you are the children of light, and children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch, and be sober.
For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but unto the purchasing of salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us; that, whether we watch or sleep, we may live together with him.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:1-10)
The cardinal virtue of Faith has much to teach us in these times. What follows are some new testament quotes regarding faith. They show us that we must have complete Trust in Jesus Christ. We should always trust Jesus, but we should especially trust Him in times of crisis. Our government tells us that we should listen to them and only trust them when it comes to information about the current crisis. One minister is reported as having said that, “the government will be as “open” and “truthful” as possible “even if the news isn’t good”. Should not our politicians always behave in this “open” and “truthful” way, even when there is no crisis? If they did, then perhaps we would not be distrustful of them now.
Let Catholics listen to what our politicians have to say, let us behave with prudence and common sense during this corona virus crisis, but let us put our faith in Jesus Christ rather than in men. As you read these passages from Holy Scripture ask yourself, “who else can do these things?”
Jesus speaks about trusting in Him for our material needs:
“And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30)
Jesus heals the Centurion’s servant:
“And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel… And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.” (Matthew 8:10, 13)
Jesus calms the storm at Sea:
“And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.” (Matthew 8:26)
Jesus cures the paralytic:
“And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee… But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said he to the man sick of palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he arose, and went into his house.” (Matthew 9:2, 6-7)
The woman who touched Jesus’s cloak:
“But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Matthew 9:22)
Jesus cures the two blind men:
“Then he touched their eyes, saying, according to your faith, be it done unto you. And their eyes were opened.” (Matthew 9:29)
Peter’s faith fails and he begins to sink into the water:
“And immediately Jesus stretching forth his hand took hold of him, and said to him: O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)
Jesus frees the daughter of the Canaanite woman from the clutches of the demon:
“Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.” (Matthew 15:28)
Jesus speaks about the leaven of the pharisees, the disciples think he is talking about bread:
“And Jesus knowing it, said: Why do you think within yourselves, O ye of little faith, for that you have no bread?” (Matthew 16:8)
The disciples fail to cast out the demon from a young boy and the disciples ask Jesus why?
“Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17:19)
The disciples see that the fig tree that Jesus cursed has withered:
“And Jesus answering, said to them: Amen, I say to you, if you shall have faith, and stagger not, not only this of the fig tree shall you do, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Take up and cast thyself into the sea, it shall be done.” (Matthew 21:21)
Jesus rebukes the pharisees for neglecting faith:
“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint, and anise, and cumin, and have left the weightier things of the law; judgment, and mercy, and faith. These things you ought to have done, and not to leave those undone.” (Matthew 23:23)
Jesus speaks of the faithful and the unfaithful servants:
“Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season. Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing.” (Matthew 24:45-46)
Jesus praises the faithful servant:
“His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matthew 25:21 and 23)
Jesus cures blind Bartimeus:
“And Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Mark 10:52)
Jesus forgives the sins of the woman at the house of Simon the pharisee:
“And he said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)
Jesus rebukes the people when the disciples cannot cast out the demon from the young boy:
“And Jesus answering, said: O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring hither thy son. And as he was coming to him, the devil threw him down, and tore him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and cured the boy, and restored him to his father.” (Luke 9:41-43)
The disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith:
“And the apostles said to the Lord: Increase our faith. And the Lord said: If you had faith like to a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this mulberry tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou transplanted into the sea: and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6)
The one leper returns to thank Jesus:
“And he said to him: Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19)
Jesus tells the story of the widow who pesters the judge to get her rights and then Jesus asks a question about faith:
“But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Jesus prays for Simon Peter’s faith:
“And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)
The story of doubting Thomas:
“Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27)
St Paul reminds the Hebrews “Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
He also tells them “For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to His name. And do not forget to do good, and to impart; for by such sacrifices God’s favour is obtained.” (Hebrews 13:14-16)
This same Jesus, who cured so many people from disease and who freed so many from the power of satan, is with us today during the corona virus crisis. Our time for doing good on this earth is very short, and if we do not die from the corona virus, we will surely die from something else, whenever God decides it is our time to go. This earth is not our ‘lasting city’ so we must not waste precious time worrying over what might be, but we must use our time well in becoming holy and in seeking the salvation of souls. This is what Jesus requires of us and He gives us the necessary graces so that we may be united with Him in Heaven for eternity.
We have already set our hands to the plough, let us not be distracted from our Catholic duties by worldly events, whatever they may be, but let us move ever forward towards our Heavenly home.
May God bless you