by Ken Rolheiser
Covid-19’s classroom of silence

Our isolation at home is a classroom of silence. Every day something new is being born. Thy will be done.

In Peace in a pandemic, a video for Dynamic Parish, Jack Beers addresses the question Who is God? He is the all loving, all powerful, all merciful Father who looks after us through life’s storms. God allows us calm in the midst of storms.

In Mark 4:35-40 Jesus is in the boat on Sea of Galilee, asleep. The disciples, seasoned sailors, realize this is a fierce and dangerous storm that threatens their lives. They awaken Jesus, who asks, “Where is your faith?” 

In the storm of Covid-19 we are stuck in that boat. “We are all in the same boat. And we are all seasick.” (G.K. Chesterton 1910 pandemic). Where is our faith? Thy will be done.

Beers lost a close friend to the pandemic but remains calm in this situation through prayer. Using the tree metaphor he says we need to sink our roots deeply into the ground to weather storms.

Taking our cue from Christ who weathered the agony and the passion and death, we realize what deep roots are. Christ does not run away from it. We, too, are born for this moment. Thy will be done.

On a wall hanging in Beers home we read, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” (Joan of Arc).

In his Easter 2020 message Father Brendan McGuire says, “The older I get, the more I am convinced that while most people believe in God they still don’t understand the central message of Easter: God loves us personally and knows us by name. 

“He became one of us to show us the way; he died to show us not to fear him but rather to live life in the sure and certain knowledge that God loves us.” 

There are hard lessons to learn in the classroom of silence. The first has to do with relationships. Picture a retired couple, married for fifty years, now isolated from everyone through Covid-19 distancing. Familiarity may rob them of the joy that should be theirs.

Similarly, picture the family with children stuck together but isolated from everyone else. This again can become an opportunity to build on each other’s gifts and enjoy a newness of family life that was not there before.

The most challenging lesson in this classroom of silence has to do with our repentance and our responsibility for the calamity we are in. Is Covid-19 God’s punishment for our collective sin?

In “Is the Corona virus a Chastisement? It Depends on Who You Ask” John Horvatt says the repentant sinner has the right answer: “Yes, the corona virus 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.”

In his mercy God chastises us, “not because he desires to punish us, but because he wishes to deliver us from punishment.” He wants to pardon and save us, Horvatt says.

Hovatt quotes Saint Alphonsus de Liguori who says sinners offend God for the sake of pleasures or passions, which we turn into false gods. 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.

Let us seek God’s merciful and just action. Thy will be done.
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