Reclaiming Our God- Given Humanity
The Solemnity of St. Joseph
America is embracing a “new normal” for social distancing in the pandemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Life is certainly filled with many twists and turns. I don’t think any of us would ever have imagined this outbreak in the modern world. I attended a Superbowl Party just over a month ago where our host mentioned his concern for the Coronavirus. Of course, at the time, I didn’t take him seriously, but look at the position our country is in now.
Although the facts change every day, they are clearly presented. Now the world has to cooperate with a lock- down. Eventually, we will be in a better place. We will hopefully gain better insight in how this virus progresses and what this means for our health as Americans. Make no mistake, we are in a crisis. Among other ramifications of this pandemic, our economy will suffer greatly as a result of this crisis. We take a look at what has closed: movie theatres, restaurants, the MGM Casino. And lastly, all professional sports are on hiatus until further notice.
It was interesting that these things have stopped. In recent days, society has made a strange god out of a sense of security. The MGM Casino promotes the vice of gambling and other vices. Many have viewed sports as more important than worshipping God on Sundays. And St. Patrick’s Day Parades and celebrations do not resemble the interior disposition of St. Patrick.
As a result of this pandemic, we have shut down many well- attended social gatherings. Even though there is a scare, people were planning on filling up taverns to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The governor shut down all restaurants in response to this. So, there is an issue with the virus. This is not overblown. When the epitome of civilization is put on hold, I hope we can all agree that we officially have a problem. We needed to be more alert to this and this is a bigger crisis than we originally anticipated. Perhaps we have been in denial because we were not ready to surrender our sense of security.
We placed our sense of security on ourselves and as a result, we have not been faithful. I don’t believe God sent this pandemic to punish us. Rather, it is something that in His Divine Providence, He has allowed to happen. Now, we are in a place where we as individual persons, families and a society have to reflect on what is really important. If we canceled sports, casinos, and entertainment then these things and even our sense of security as we know it are not our highest priority we place in life. It is something greater.
It seems to me the highest priority we value is on our health, happiness and the preservation of our life. This is consistent with natural law. Natural law has been given to us by God. God’s law is considered eternal law. Our participation in eternal law as intelligent beings is natural law. We are working within natural law when we determine how to act and not to act in society. According to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologia, a summary of all of Catholic Theology, there are three stages of the natural law.
They are as follows:
- To preserve life.
- To procreate, raise children and educate the young.
- To appeal to the goodness of human nature, to know God and know how to live in a society. (IaIIae q. 94.2.1)
Human laws are established to promote the well-being of people in society, according to Aquinas. In the wake of this pandemic, we are certainly operating in all three stages of the natural law. I wonder, as I mentioned above, as a society, that the effects of this pandemic forces us to examine what is most essential to our lives. This inadvertently or intentionally will force us to come back to promoting Godly values in our country.
We follow natural law by preserving life. We are taking steps to preserve life by closing our schools and putting a halt to community gatherings of 10 people and over. We are keeping in mind the health of our hospital staff and law officials by doing this. We are continuing to educate our children by using online web-based learning allowing them to learn from home and not risk the spread of this horrible virus.
We need to intentionally return to Godly values. We sometimes reduce God to how He can make us feel. Right now, we feel scared. We need to hold on to something more concrete than this and appeal to our human nature. We need to acknowledge that God’s natural law is present in every one of us. Next, we need to acknowledge that we are made in His image and likeness. God created us like Him.
As we embrace this “new normal”. I want to highlight the distinction between being alone and feeling lonely. Feelings of loneliness turn us in on ourselves, and this fuels despair, depression, lack of hope and we ought to combat this as much as possible during this time. Being alone is different. We are perhaps being called to embrace our alone time in deep solitude with God in prayer. When we pray, we can pray for peace, comfort, healing, health, vaccines, our sanity, humor or anything you would like. We should pray to preserve our lives, certainly, and especially, we should pray to envision what our world will look like and the values we will want to build upon as we move forward post crisis.
It is my sincerest hope that you are able to acknowledge God’s continual blessing upon you and your families during this time. Always seek God’s consolation and care despite not being in physical communion with the Church during this pandemic. May we instead, embrace a deeper spiritual communion and may God’s peace always be with you all.
Fr. David Aufiero
Holy Name Parish