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by John Horvat II

 

Could the current coronavirus crisis be a chastisement for our sins? This provocative question is a non-starter with many who prefer to think of God in warm and fuzzy terms. On the other hand, any pondering about COVOID-19 and God will lead you to question His motives. Thus, the answer to this question will vary greatly, depending on whom you ask.

 

Whom Not to Ask

There are many people who you should not ask. Stay clear of progressive theologians, for example. They will inevitably point to some kind of class struggle as the cause for catastrophes. Wealthy people subjugating poor people are what cause disasters. Systemic social structures create misfortunes. Mere mortals daring to abuse “Mother Earth” is what leads to eco-catastrophes. Notions of sin and hell are fuzzy to these modern theologians. One cannot be chastised for sin if you do not believe it exists. 

Don’t ask a class of sentimental Catholics who will always avoid unpleasant talk about chastisement. The prospect of God’s infinite mercy attracts them much more than His equally infinite justice. They believe that fire-and-brimstone sermons are a thing of the past. Now is the era of peace and love. They will tell you the virus is no punishment because a merciful God does not chastise.

Don’t ask hardened sinners for their take on the issue. They have the most to lose by belief in a chastisement. They are busy enjoying life’s pleasures, committing sins and embracing the world’s false promises. And although the wages of sin weigh down their consciences, they live in denial, thinking themselves happy. There is no time to think about chastisement as long as the party keeps going.

The self-righteous are a bit more honest. They are willing to admit the possibility of chastisement—but only for the sins of others. They rightly concede that sins like procured abortion, sodomy, pornography, and adultery could bring down God’s judgment upon us. But since they do not commit these sins, they see the full weight of any chastisement falling on the sinners, not themselves.

 

Getting the Right Answer

However, if you want an honest answer to the question, ask a repentant sinner. Such sinners will always have the courage to say it outright. Yes, the coronavirus is a punishment for our sins. God is chastising us for abandoning Him. God is chastising me. I deserve to be punished, for I have grievously sinned against my God.

The reason why repentant sinners answer correctly is that they have a true notion of what sin is. Alas, society has lost the idea of the gravity of sin, therefore we cannot conceive it being the cause of chastisement. If we but knew the seriousness of sin and how it offends God, we would see everything, including our own guilt, with different eyes.

 

The Gravity of Sin

Saint Augustine (Contra Faustum, XXII, xxvii) defines sin, especially mortal sin, as “something said, done or desired contrary to the eternal law.” When we sin, we voluntarily turn away from God, our true last end. We disobey God by breaking His law, which is suited to our nature and happiness. Sin offends God because we prefer a passion or mutable good to our Creator. Sin does not hurt or change God, who is immutable. However, it does offend God by depriving Him of the honor and reverence due to Him.

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori says the sinner insults, dishonors, and afflicts God. As sinners, we insult God by declaring ourselves His enemies and fighting Him who created us. We dishonor God by offending Him for the sake of pleasures or passions, which we turn into false gods. When we sin, we afflict God because we treat with ingratitude Him who tenderly loved us to the point of giving up His Only Begotten Son to death, and death on the Cross.

Thus, sin is serious since it destroys our relationship with God. It frustrates God’s infinite goodness, whereby He desires our greatest good and happiness.

 

A Sinful Society

We live in iniquitous times, in which the occasions of sin are everywhere. Everything in our culture conspires against us so that we may sin. Most choose not to recognize their iniquity. However, we are all sinners.

We are sinners by our acts against God, especially those of impurity that so dominate our hypersexualized world. We can sin by failing to honor God, defend His law, or oppose the reign of sin. For those of us who try to do good, we can sin by failing to be good enough.

The more we love God, the more we see our sins before us. Thus, the psalmist says: “For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me” (Ps. 50:5). That is why the saints are particularly sensitive to their sins and constantly seek to do reparation for them. When misfortune visits them, they see it as a just chastisement for their offenses against an infinite God.

 

A Wrong Idea of Chastisement

Most people have the wrong idea of God’s chastisements. They see them almost as arbitrary acts. They do not see them as a means to put things back in order.

Our Lady at Fatima spoke of chastisements in this manner. When society as a whole becomes iniquitous and unrepentant, the only way to return to order is through great tribulation for all. Saint Alphonsus clarifies the matter by saying, “God being infinite goodness, desires only our good and to communicate to us his own happiness. When he chastises us, it is because we have obliged him to do so by our sins.”

Indeed, God desires our amendment more than we do. He chastises “not because he desires to punish us, but because he wishes to deliver us from punishment.” He has compassion on us by showing Himself “angry towards us, in order that we may amend our lives, and that thus He may be able to pardon and save us.”

 

The Desire for Chastisement

Repentant sinners perceive all this. They have experienced God’s merciful love and chastisements in their own lives. They know the good that can come from this action for themselves. They desire that others might also share in God’s merciful yet just action.

The repentant sinner sees not only individual sins, but also a sinful society. The sinner realizes that the only way society as a whole will return to order is through an analogous process through which sinners pass. Thus, the chastisement is not a calamity, but liberation from evil’s dominion.

Indeed, the sinner welcomes the chastisement, recognizing the suffering that is involved. Saint Alphonsus says the sinner cries out with great love: “O God I have so much offended Thee, chastise me in this life, that thou mayst spare me in the next.”

Many are opining about the present crisis, trying to come up with convoluted explanations for the great sufferings that are coming. They should ask a repentant sinner. They should heed Our Lady’s message at Fatima.

 


 

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for May 29, 2020

Those who open their mouth to confess their faith breathe th...

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May 29

 

Those who open their mouth
to confess their faith
breathe the spirit of divine grace,
which is the life of the soul.

St. Anthony of Padua


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

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. William of Toulouse and Companions

The priests, meeting with much hostility in town, set up in...

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St. William of Toulouse and Companions

William Arnaud, a Dominican, and companions were sent to Toulouse in the South of France by Pope Gregory IX to combat the Albigensian heresy then entrenched throughout the region.

The Albigensian heresy preached a dualism where the body was considered evil. As a consequence, they denied that Christ could have been human, rejected the Sacraments and adopted, in their stead, pagan rituals of “purification”.

The priests, meeting with much hostility in town, set up in a house in the surrounding country, and were making many converts, which upset the local government under Count Raymond III of Toulouse.

They and others, a total of eleven, including some Franciscans, Benedictines, and a layman, were deceived into accepting an invitation to the local castle where seven of them were set upon and slaughtered in a most barbarous manner.

The other four, William Arnaud among them, escaped to a local church where they were found singing religious hymns. Violating the medieval “sanctuary” – an unforgivable act at that time – and angered by the singing, the soldiers first cut off William’s tongue, then killed all four. Their bodies were thrown in a ravine, but that night, light streamed from them leading the faithful to their relics. They were interred in the Church of San Romano at the monastery in Toulouse.

The church in Avignonet where the martyrs had been murdered, was placed under interdict and for years the doors remained locked because of the sacrilege.

Many cures were reported at their graves.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion t...

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Mary and the Simple Country Wife

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier. Little did she know that her soldier-husband had made a deal with the devil, that he would sell his wife for a certain sum of money.

One crisp, autumn morning the couple went out for their customary walk. Oddly, this time the young man insisted on heading towards the forest. It was at the forest where he intended to deliver his young bride over to the devil.

On their way to the forest, the couple passed in front of a Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The wife, overtaken with a desire to enter the church begged her husband to allow her to pray a Hail Mary in that church.

As the young lady entered the church, Holy Mary came forth from it, taking the form of the wife and accompanied the man into the forest.

When they at last approached the devil at the forest, he said to the man, “Traitor! Why have you brought me instead of your wife, my enemy, the mother of God?”

“And you,” said Mary, addressing the devil, “how have you dared to think of injuring my servant? Go, flee to hell.”

And then, turning to the man, Mary said to him, “Amend your life, and I will aid you.”

She then disappeared and that wretched man repented, amended his life and became a husband worthy of his simple country wife.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

 

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There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier.

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