Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, OP, has an important piece in First Things Magazine about the pandemic in light of both Lent and Eastertide entitled In God’s Time.
What is the properly Christian meaning of the providential concurrence of the pandemic with Lent and Eastertide? What light can our faith shed on the darkness that otherwise prevails during these days? The paschal experience of our crucified and risen Lord shows us the path of grace that turns our own experience of suffering into an opportunity for conversion and transformation, a passage from death to life with our Redeemer who suffered and died for our sake.
This fundamental pattern of the liturgical year, with its specific grace in this season, seems all the more significant for us during this crisis. It may seem that the pandemic has taken Lent and Easter captive, but in liturgical time—in God’s time, that is—the reverse is true. The invitatory antiphon at the start of the Liturgy of the Hours every day in Lent was “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” During Easter it becomes “The Lord is risen, alleluia.” The divine judgment we experience during Lent as a call to repentance yields during Eastertide to the hope and promise of a share in the victory of our Risen Lord over sin and death. This deeply distressing crisis has sharpened our sense of the paschal mystery.
Please read the whole thing. Here’s my summary: God is calling us to repentance. He is also reminding us that outside of Him there is no true safety, real peace or lasting security.
It has been difficult to think of blog posts to write because much of my focus during the pandemic—aside from a rather monastic level of prayer in my quasi-hermitage— is on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its role not only in hiding the origins of the novel coronavirus but also in allowing it to spread throughout the world. Now as I learn that we no longer manufacture the ingredients to make our antibiotics, our insulin and other essential pharmaceuticals, I see how wholly unprepared we were for this pandemic. In the interests of globalization and making money, we hollowed out our manufacturing sector to slave labor in China so we could have cheaper phones, drugs, computers and so on.
It is becoming more and more clear to me that China under this evil regime is an existential threat to the West. It concerns me people remain so asleep to this threat. However, I have not found a way to get at this in a way that’s on topic for this blog. But maybe Archbishop Di Noia helps bring its relevance into focus.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, we will confront the worst economic crisis in history—with millions of people unemployed and massive government spending needed to bail out industries and banks and keep families afloat. The number of people in the world facing food shortages could double to 265 million. If millions of people either cannot get food because the supply chains have broken down, or cannot pay for it because they have run out of money, then there is the danger of massive social disorder. The U.N. estimates that $2.5 trillion will be needed to respond to the pandemic in the developing world. The fragility of institutions that only a few months ago appeared almost indestructible is now exposed for all the world to see. We have seen it, and it terrifies us.
Archbishop Di Noia doesn’t mention China, but this looming economic crisis is brought to you by the CCP. That’s not all: some suspect the pandemic may have originated in experimentation with coronaviruses as part of a biological weapons program, and the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army has been doing research partially funded by the West(!) Whether the virus was manipulated in the lab, or merely studied there and leaked out because of careless safety measures,the CCP covered up the human to human transmission of the virus for weeks, allowing it to spread throughout the world.
Everyday I listen to War Room Pandemic that has been covering the pandemic since late January, when almost everyone else in the United States was distracted by the impeachment of President Trump. The hosts of the program have brought in experts on China, on the economic and financial crisis, on the outsourcing of our drugs to China, and how China is engaging in an information and economic war with the United States.
But at the basis it’s a war over a vision of human dignity, of men and women being made in the image of God vs. men and women as meaningless products of evolution. In the latter vision, anything goes, from CCP harvesting of organs from live political prisoners to feed their lucrative transplant industry to the placing of a million Uighurs in concentration camps, to widespread surveillance and control of every aspect of a person’s life. Is it about human flourishing or is it about power and control.
Our problem here in North America is that we had hoped to make China more like us through opening trade with her, but instead we have become more like China. It’s our high tech industry that helped China build its surveillance network and the great electronic fire wall that keeps citizens of China from finding out any information contrary to the CCP Party line.
Look at us though with our abortion, our pornography, our addiction rates, our obesity, our lack of serious Christian faith and observance. We are getting swallowed up in darkness.
My prayer is that it is not too late for repentance and conversion to sweep the land so that we may be delivered from the looming tyranny that awaits us and our grandchildren if we do not wake up.
Archbishop Di Noia again:
Christians cannot be silent. If we do not declare what our faith tells us, the scroll will remain sealed, with its divine meanings locked within. Only if the scroll is opened and read to us will we know in faith that precisely because God loves us so much, we are experiencing his wrath—the wrath of the Lamb himself (Rev. 6:16–17). As [Anglican theologian Joseph] Mangina explains, “[T]he divine wrath is the form that God’s love assumes when it encounters resistance on the part of the creature, it is the divine ‘no’ to the plight of humanity in this ‘present evil age’; and so Christ appears on the same side as the Father, equally the agent of God’s love and his judgment.” Christ enacts God’s decisive turning toward the world in grace, mercy, and peace. But some turn away, “misunderstanding God’s righteous judgment as an expression of his hatred.” It is providential that the pandemic of 2020 has coincided with Lent and Easter. There is still time to turn to him and live, for barely concealed in God’s judgment are his upwelling grace and mercy in the Lamb slain for our sake and risen now in glory.