Musings About COVID by Father David May

Yesterday I was discussing with Paulette, the editor of Restoration, what to write about for this issue, which is a couple of months away from publication. I had been doing a series on the Word of God in my life but felt something more current was needed during this time of pandemic.

Of course, by the time this article gets printed we may be in a whole new place vis a vis the virus. All the same, we agreed that I should try to write something about the current situation. Later on, probably in the September issue, I will continue with the series about God’s work in my life.

Well, on to COVID. First of all, I’m writing from the vantage point that no one in the community here in Combermere so far has been affected by the virus in a direct way. In other words, no one is sick with it yet.

We have drastically modified our schedule and all comings and goings and the way we do things, so that we reduce as much as possible the risk of infection. The details of this were covered in Combermere Diary in our last issue, and more about that changing situation is in that column this month.

Nor am I personally involved in the front lines of confronting the virus itself, either as a medical worker, or someone doing research on a vaccine, or a political leader trying to determine what the best policy is for dealing with this thing.

My life in Madonna House has been modified but is going on more or less as it was before the lockdown. Travel has been cancelled, true, but daily life in the community has not stopped. There are more phone calls rather than meetings taking place in my life.

We hear in the news of heroic acts going on, thank God, but so far, I’m not one of those heroes. I’ve been told to stay home, be a good boy and take care of myself. Doesn’t exactly make for a dramatic story for Restoration!

Whatever the origins of the virus, or wherever it originated, what was covered up, what was revealed—these are all questions that may or may not yield certain answers. But one does wonder what God might be saying through this worldwide experience of the battle between life and death, between prosperity and disaster, economically.

It brings to mind the many talks Catherine Doherty gave during the 1970s, and not only then. She felt that there was a great rebellion against God taking place not only in the officially atheistic countries of the East, but also in the democratic but materialistic countries of the West.

She would talk about a coming catastrophe, permitted by God, for the purification of the human race from its rebellion against God’s order and his very Person.

She never specified what form this event would take, and she would leave us with phrases that left us both baffled and thoughtful. Phrases like this: “I will lead you into the catacombs, and Our Lady will lead you back out.”

“God the Father is angry at the rejection of the words of his Son, and only the prayers of the Mother of God and the intercession of Jesus himself are holding back God’s arm from striking.”

When asked how we can understand that God is a God of love if one speaks of him as being angry, she gave a very quick and ready answer, “But, sweetheart, don’t you see that God’s anger is his mercy!”

There are many other examples that one could give as she groped for words to describe the times that would be coming.

She wanted us to be ready for it so that we could help others through it. Yet, she also realized that it was impossible to convey to us the depth and the breadth of what she was feeling concerning the future.

For she was also a child of Mary and consecrated to her and believed profoundly in the Age of Mary culminating with the triumph of her Immaculate Heart and a time of peace being given to the world newly reconciled to its Creator.

This all sounded to us, well, frightening, intriguing, thought-provoking, and bewildering. What could one do to prepare for a time of chaos and disorder and persecution?

Her usual answer was, “Today, do the duty of the moment. Do it with great love for God and do it exceedingly well.”

Somehow, she saw that doing the ordinary extraordinarily well for love of God, doing the obvious thing day by day, would be the best preparation for an extraordinary time coming one day.

She didn’t know when that day would come, but she was certain that it would come, at least it seemed that way to me. But she also believed that love and prayer and fasting had a great power to change the course of history, “to change God’s mind” as to what he was intending to do.

So that added a still greater urgency to be faithful to our vocation and what it asked of us, even if it seemed to have no relation to a time of catastrophe and social chaos and God’s apocalyptic revelations and all that.

So now we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is this it?

Is this the beginning of new troubles for the whole world all at once, culminating in all kinds of social upheaval and terrible trials? I don’t know. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

But one cannot but be struck deeply by the relative ease with which one little virus has shut down the whole world’s economy virtually overnight, and not just the economy, but normal life itself.

Enough to make one think twice, perhaps, about the meaning of life, or the direction one should take in life, or at least not to take for granted life as we have known it. It is so easy to take life for granted, especially in this part of the world.

If I were living in Syria or Yemen or a dozen other places, I would not be taking anything for granted. Maybe we are being taught in Canada a lesson already painfully known elsewhere.

At the least we can conclude that death and the end of all things as we know it is a lot closer than we generally think. And if my life is so easily jeopardized, before I go to meet my Maker, I may want to reassess the depth and the wholeheartedness of my commitment to following the Lord and being his disciple.

Yes, these are very sobering times, but sobriety is not the same as anxiety or sadness or gloom and doom. Sobriety has to do with clarity of mind, and rationality of thought, as well as transformation of the heart by the grace of God.

Yes, he is merciful, but he is also demanding that we take him seriously as to both who he is and what he says. Otherwise, we are not fit either for heaven or for this earth.

And earth is meant to be an icon of heaven if I understand the Lord’s prayer properly. May his will be done in us, and may his kingdom come in us, and may his name be glorified in us… on earth as it is in heaven.