Facebook Twitter Pinterest Youtube Instagram Give

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 June 6, 2020

God gave Himself to you: give yourself to God. St. Robert...

read link

June 6

 

God gave Himself
to you:
give yourself to God.

St. Robert Southwell


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

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Norbert of Magdeburg

He lost consciousness after being thrown from his horse duri...

read link

St. Norbert of Magdeburg

Norbert was born in the year 1080 in Xanten, Germany, to a noble and wealthy family. Norbert lived a life of pleasure until one day he lost consciousness after being thrown from his horse during a thunderstorm. He awoke an hour later, and said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” “Turn from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it,” came the heavenly reply.

After his conversion, Norbert pursued the priesthood and was ordained in 1115. He received special permission from the Pope to preach the Gospel wherever he chose. Fiinding himself at Prémontré in France, Norbert founded a community under the rule of St. Augustine, with the sanction of the Holy See. At first, Norbert had only thirteen followers but the numbers increased to forty by 1121 and by 1125, eight abbeys and two convents had been established.

In 1126, Norbert was chosen Archbishop of Magdeburg. He struggled to reform the clergy, many of whom were leading careless lives, and ultimately succeeded in his reformation endeavors. Four years later, he defended Pope Innocent II, whose claim to the papacy was threatened by Antipope Anacletus II. Norbert won over the hierarchy of the Church in Germany to Innocent’s cause and influenced the German King Lothar to defend Innocent.

Norbert died in Magdeburg in 1134 at the age of fifty-three. He was formally recognized as a saint by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Eutychian, Patriarch of Constantinople, relates the followin...

read link

Freed from a Contract with the Devil

Eutychian, Patriarch of Constantinople, relates the following well-known story of Theophilus (6th century). The Patriarch was an eyewitness of the fact which we relate here, and which is also confirmed by St. Peter Damian, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Antoninus, and others.

Theophilus was an archdeacon of the Church of Adanas, a city of Cilicia, and was so well esteemed that the people wished him to become their bishop, but his humility prevented his consent.

Afterwards, some malicious persons slandered him, and he was deposed from his office. Upset and blinded by passion, he went to a magician, who induced him to apply to Satan for help in his misfortunes. 

The devil answered that if he wished his assistance, he must renounce Jesus, and Mary his mother, and hand over to him the act of renunciation, written with his own hand.  Theophilus executed the vile document. On the following day the bishop, having heard of the wrong done him by his calumniators, asked his forgiveness, and restored him to his office. 

But Theophilus began to feel so tortured by the pangs of remorse over the great crime he had committed, that he wept continually.

Entering a church, he prostrated himself in tears before an altar of the Blessed Virgin, exclaiming: “O, mother of God, having you who art so merciful, I will not despair of your help.”

Thus he persevered for forty days, weeping and praying to the Holy Virgin.

Behold, one night the mother of mercy appeared to him and said: “O, Theophilus, what have you done? You have renounced my friendship and that of my Son, and for whom, but for the sake of your enemy and mine!”

“O, Lady,” answered Theophilus, “it is in thy hand to pardon me, and to obtain my pardon from thy Son.”

Then, Mary, seeing his confidence, answered, “Take courage and I will pray for thee.”

Theophilus, encouraged by these words, redoubled his tears, his penance, and his prayers, remaining constantly at the foot of the altar. And, behold, Mary appeared to him again, and with a joyful countenance said to him:

“Theophilus, rejoice, I have presented thy tears and thy prayers to God; He hath accepted them, and hath already pardoned thee; henceforth be grateful and faithful.”

“Lady,” replied Theophilus, “this is not sufficient to console me; the enemy still possesses the impious deed, by which I have renounced thee and thy Son; thou canst obtain it for me.”

After three days, Theophilus awoke one night, and found the paper on his breast.

The next day, when the bishop with a large assembly were present in church, Theophilus cast himself at his feet, related the whole story, weeping bitterly, and handed him the infamous writing, which the bishop immediately ordered to be burned in the presence of the congregation. The people wept for joy, praising the goodness of God, and the mercy of Mary towards that miserable sinner.

Theophilus returned to the church of the Virgin, and there, three days later, died happily, with thanksgivings to Jesus and his holy mother on his lips.

References:  Glories of Mary, New Revised Edition of 1888, p.196

Eutychian, Patriarch of Constantinople, relates the following well-known story of Theophilus (6th century). The Patriarch was an eyewitness of the fact which we relate here,

Let’s keep in touch!