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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 June 16, 2021

We should blush with shame to show so much resentment at wha...

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June 16

 

We should blush with shame
to show so much resentment at what is done or said against us,
knowing that so many injuries and affronts
have been offered to our Redeemer and the saints.

St. Teresa of Avila


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Lutgardis

Her forehead and hair were often made wet with drops of bloo...

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St. Lutgardis

Born in the Netherlands in 1182, Lutgardis was sent to a Benedictine convent at the age of twelve because her merchant father had lost the money meant for her dowry, and marriage without it seemed unlikely.

She was fond of worldly things, and had no inclination toward a religious life. However, one afternoon she had a vision of Our Lord, Who showed her His sacred wounds and asked her to love Him and Him alone.

Lutgardis immediately renounced all worldly pleasures and became a religious. She often saw Christ while engaged in prayer, and was allowed to share in His sufferings: her forehead and hair were often made wet with drops of blood when she meditated on The Passion.

Desiring to live under a stricter rule, Lutgardis later joined a Cistercian convent at Aywieres. There she spent the final thirty years of her life, becoming known as a mystic with the gifts of healing and prophecy. During the last eleven years prior to her death she was totally blind, an affliction which she treated as an extraordinary gift from God because it reduced the distractions of the outside world.

Before she died, Our Lord appeared to her to warn her of her approaching death, and asked her to prepare for this event in three ways. She was to give praise to God for what she had received, pray constantly for the conversion of sinners and rely in all things on God alone. She died soon after the vision on June 16, 1246.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Fatima custodians often meet people who know little or nothi...

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Visiting a Muslim Family

Fatima custodians often meet people who know little or nothing about the Catholic faith.  A few years ago I had such an experience in Florida. 

Upon arrival at the home, an elderly grandmother with a group of young children and teens met me at the door. The group was sullen as I brought in the statue, set up the projector and began the introduction.  Unknown to me, I was speaking to a Muslim family.

At a certain point, one of the teens vehemently objected to the phrase “Mother of God” and accused me of blasphemy since Jesus was not God. Quickly the visit became an interesting defense of the Catholic faith. After answering several more objections to the best of my ability, my Islamic hosts allowed me to explain the Rosary, with an attentive audience, I proceeded to pray alone.

After reciting the Rosary, the attendants and I listened to the hostess, who explained why she had assembled the family for the visit.

Several weeks ago, she was hospitalized for a serious illness. She felt alone and abandoned until one day a stranger walked in with a bouquet of flowers, placed it by the bedside and stayed to listen to all of her concerns. The stranger returned repeatedly to renew her flowers, fix her pillows and talk to her. Then the Muslim mother questioned the stranger’s motives, explaining that her own family wasn’t visiting her. The stranger replied that she was a Catholic and Catholics are encouraged to visit the sick.

Requesting more information about the Catholic faith, the mother was told that it was against hospital policy to discuss religion and therefore she would have to search for information on her own.

Upon her release from the hospital, my hostess entered a nearby Catholic church and encountered an America Needs Fatima flier about Our Lady of Fatima. She called the number and set up a home visit to which she then invited her family.

I may never know what has happened to the family, but I regularly pray that their interest in Catholicism has brought them into the folds of the Catholic Church. Of one thing I am certain: Our Lady will never abandon those who invite her into their homes.

By Michael Chad Shibler

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Fatima custodians often meet people who know little or nothing about the Catholic faith.  A few years ago I had such an experience in Florida

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