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By John Horvat II

 

While a greater percentage of the world is getting whipped up into a hysteria over the coronavirus, as Catholics we need to pause, pray and seek a supernatural solution. While the virus has yet to display its full fury, the global reaction to it is at a frenzy. There are two spectacles taking place: the coronavirus and the fear of the Media gatheringcoronavirus that might be called “coronaphobia.”

At this point, the fear is spreading at a much faster rate than the actual virus, due in a large part to the media.

People are terrified by the virus since it introduces them to an unknown world. It is a mysterious disease from a faraway totalitarian land. Everyone mistrusts the data coming out of China. The virus’s highly contagious and unpredictable nature adds to the generalized fear. Media hype and images multiply the impact of the disease by sensationalizing its every advance.

Thus, coronaphobia is raging all over the world. It has slowed down economies, shaved off trillions of dollars in stock prices, stopped church services and paralyzed cities. It is shaping politics as world leaders are put to the test to meet the grave challenge of this contagion.

 

A Real Threat

Of course, the coronavirus does present real risks. Reasonable measures must be taken. Like all cases of flu, people become sick and die. Those with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable. Its victims tend to be frail people with pre-existing conditions.

However, two factors make this threat different and more terrifying than the flu cases that take tens of thousands of lives yearly. The first is that it can strike quickly and indiscriminately. The second is that there are no vaccines against it. Thus, people sense general helplessness in the face of a tiny virus that is bringing a fragile and interconnected world to its knees.

 

The Causes of the Fear

No one likes to say it, but what triggers coronaphobia is the Hobbesian fear of death that so haunts the modern mind. Each person sees in a coronavirus death his or her possible death. This paranoiac fear causes demands that every possible means be employed against this remote threat even if they appear excessive. This desperate drama creates conditions in which people will even give up rights and liberties to avoid catching the virus.

Coronaphobia is caused by a society where the enjoyment of life is the supreme value. That is why the full might of the medical establishment must be mobilized with such passion. Everything must be done to prolong the lives of those who still enjoy life and have little thought about the hereafter.

Yet not all life is equally valued in today’s hedonistic culture. The same medical establishment that scrambles to treat coronavirus victims snuffs out thousands of lives daily, through abortion and euthanasia, so that others might free themselves from responsibilities and “enjoy” life.

 

Living in Denial

Coronaphobia explains why there is so much hype around the issue. In a culture that adores pleasure, life-threatening viruses overwhelm and crush psyches unaccustomed to thinking about death and suffering. People look for any way to escape this unpleasant reality.

To avoid any profound thinking about the virus, people surround it with noise and agitation, in the hope that the din might scare it away. To find quick fixes for the problem, they loudly demand urgent action, even if it flies in the face of commonsense. In their helplessness, they fill themselves with resentment and anger, blaming others for their misfortune.

Fear rules in such circumstances. People will do anything to avoid having to face the crisis alone, in all its seriousness. The festival of hype smothers everything in a frenetic intemperance of collective denial.

 

The Cure for Coronaphobia

There is a cure for coronaphobia. It involves facing reality with all objectivity. People must neither overreact nor minimize the dangers. They must face the virus, calmly and with common sense, utilizing the standard means by which strong flu cases are combatted.

Coronaphobia can only be overcome by those who dare to think beyond the pleasures of life. Tragedy invites people to reflect on human mortality and contingency. Inside the silence of reflection, people find meaning and purpose for their sufferings. They find the courage to act effectively, embracing reality, not denying it.

Above all, tragedy leads people to trust in God and His Providence. The limitations of a purely secular society are made patent when tragedies of this sort strike. Humanity is left to its own devices and finds them woefully insufficient. Throughout history, when faced with tribulation, the faithful have had recourse to God and have found solace and aid. That is why the Church has always played such a great role during times of calamity. Instead of prohibiting church services, authorities should encourage the Church to hold more. This trust is the only sure cure for the devastating coronaphobia that ravages the world.

 

 


 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for August 9, 2020

Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us … If a man wants...

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August 9

 

Prayer purifies us,
reading instructs us …
If a man wants to be always in God’s company,
he must pray regularly and read regularly.
When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

St. Isidore of Seville


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Bl. Amadeus of Portugal

His sister, St. Beatriz da Silva, was the foundress of the O...

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Bl. Amadeus of Portugal

João Mendes da Silva, better known as the Blessed Amadeus of Portugal, was born in 1420 in Campo Maior on the eastern side of the country. The youngest son of twelve children, he was closely related to the Counts of Vila Real and Viana do Alentejo, whose lands lay near the border of Portugal and Spain. St. Beatriz da Silva, the foundress of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, was one of his sisters, and a strong devotion to this prerogative of Our Lady – centuries before it was defined as a dogma – was a profound spiritual characteristic they both shared.

João was married very young, but soon after entered the Hieronymite monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Spain, where he spent about ten years. Inspired by a vision of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy to join the Franciscans, he sought admission to their friary in Ubeda in Lombardy where he entered as a lay brother in 1452 and took the name of Amadeus.

Initially not well received by his confreres, some of whom took him for a religious fraud, he was widely persecuted within the Order bearing all the humiliations inflicted upon him with great patience. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1459 at the insistence of his superiors. Amadeus subsequently became renowned throughout the houses of the Order for his holiness and miracles.

In 1469, he founded the Friary of Notre Dame de la Paix under the protection of the Archbishop of Milan. This friary soon became the center of a Franciscan reform which eventually spread throughout Italy and beyond. When the Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Francesco della Rovere, was elected to the throne of Peter as Pope Sixtus IV, he summoned Amadeus to Rome to be his confessor and counselor.

The reform of the Franciscan Order begun by St. Amadeus led to his founding of a distinct branch of the Friars Minor which was ultimately named after him. Amadeus later returned to Milan, where he died in 1482.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell...

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The Legend of the Locket

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell awakened me, whereupon I sprang from my bed, and, after a few hurried preparations, hastened to throw open the door. 

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It was a bitter cold night in January, and the moon without threw its pale light over the wan spectral snow-covered landscape. The sharp gust that swept into the hall as I opened the door made me pity the delicate-looking child who stood at the threshold.

Her hair gleamed with a strange and rare effect in the moonlight, long golden hair that fell in graceful ripples about her shoulders. She was lightly dressed, this little child, as she stood gazing straight and frankly into my eyes with an expression at once so beautiful and calm and earnest that I shall never forget it.

Her face was very pale, her complexion of the fairest. The radiancy about her hair seemed to glow in some weird yet indescribable fashion upon her every feature. These details I had not fairly taken in when she addressed me.

"Father, can you come with me at once? My mother is dying, and she is in trouble."

"Come inside, my little girl," I said, "and warm yourself. You must be half frozen."

"Indeed, Father, I am not in the least cold." I had thrown on my coat and hat as she made answer.

"Your mother's name, my child?"

"Catherine Morgan, Father; she's a widow, and has lived like a saint. And now that she's dying, she is in awful trouble. She was taken sick about a few hours ago."

"Where does she live?"

"Two miles from here, Father, on the border of the Great Swamp; she is a stranger in these parts, and alone. I know the way perfectly; you need not be afraid of getting lost."

A few minutes later we were tramping through the snow, or rather I was tramping, for the child beside me moved with so light and tender a step, that had there been flowers instead of snowflakes beneath our feet I do not think a single petal would have been crushed under the airy fall of her fairy feet.

Her hand was in mine with the confiding clasp of childhood. Her face, for all the trouble that was at home, wore a gravely serene air, such as is seldom seen in years of sprightly, youthful innocence.

How beautiful she looked!

More like a creature fresh from the perfect handiwork of God than one who walked in the valley of sin, sorrow, trouble and death.

Locket Upon her bosom I observed a golden locket fashioned in a heart shape.

She noticed my glance, and with a quick movement of her fingers released the locket and handed it to me.

"It's a heart," I said.

"Read what's on it, Father."

"I can't, my little friend; my eyes are very good, but are not equal to making out reading on gold lockets by moonlight."

"Just let me hold it for you, Father. Now look."

How this child contrived, I cannot say; but certain it is, that at once, as she held the locket at a certain angle, there stood out clearly, embossed upon its surface, the legend: 

"Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me." 

"Mamma placed that upon my bosom one year ago, when I was very sick, Father." And kissing the locket, the child restored it to its place.

We went on for a time in silence. I carried the Blessed Sacrament with me; and, young as she was, the girl seemed to appreciate the fact. Whenever I glanced at her, I observed her lips moving as in prayer, and her eyes seemed, in very truth, fixed upon the place where rested in His sacramental veil the Master of Life and of Death.

Suddenly the girl's hand touched my sleeve-oh, so gently!

"This is the place, Father," she said in soft tones that thrilled me as they broke upon the stillness; and she pointed to a little hut standing back in the dim shadows of three pine trees.

I pushed open the door, which hung loosely upon its hinges, and turned to wait her entrance. She was gone. Somewhat startled, I was peering out into the pallid night, when a groan called me to the bedside of the dying woman.

A glance told me there was no time to lose. The woman lying in that room had hardly reached middle life, but the hand of Death had touched her brow, upon which stood the drops of sweat, and in her face I read a great trouble.

I was at her side in an instant; and, God be thanked for it, soon calmed and quieted the poor creature. She made her confession, and in sentiments of faith and love such as I have rarely seen, received the Last Sacraments of the Church.

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Standing beside her, I suggested those little prayers and devices so sweet and consoling at the dread hour. I noticed, as the time passed on, that her eyes frequently turned toward a little box at the farther end of the room.

"Shall I bring you that box?" I asked.

She nodded assent.

On placing it beside her, she opened it with trembling hands and took out the dress of a child.

"Your little daughter's dress?" I said.

She whispered, and there was love in her tones: "My darling Edith's."

"I know her," I continued. "She brought me here, you know."

I stopped short and caught my breath. The woman half rose in her bed; she looked at me in wonder that cannot be expressed. I, no less amazed, was staring at a golden, oval locket fastened to the bosom of the child's dress which the woman was holding in her hands.

"Madam," I cried, "in the name of God, tell me, where is your daughter? Whose is that locket?"

"The locket is Edith's. I placed it here on the bosom of her dress when my little girl lay dying a year ago. The last thing my darling did was to hold this locket to her lips, and say:

'Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me.'

"She died a year ago."

Then the mother's face grew very sweet and very radiant.

Still holding the locket in her hands, she fixed her eyes straight before her.

"Edith, my dear Edith, we are at last to be united in the Sacred Heart. I see you, my darling: ‘Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me."'

Her voice faded with the last syllable into silence.

She and Edith were again united.

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From Fr. Finn's Mostly Boys (New York: 1896), pp. 90-95.
Illustrations by: AF Phillips

 

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell

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