Palm Sunday 2020 - Fly or Bee...?
In times of fear and uncertainty our perseverance in the Christian life is put to the test. Such times are also opportunities for examination and conversion. Have we become lukewarm, fallen into routine, or taken our liturgical life for granted? Now is the time to enliven our faith, to place our fears and concerns at the foot of the Cross as we follow Our Lord this Holy Week. In imitation of Christ, let us be willing to suffer joyfully and peacefully, giving thanks amidst our tribulations because God is glorified in all things. Let us trust in God and take heart! "For those who love God, all things work together unto good."
Dear Friends and benefactors,
In a few days the atmosphere has changed. A threat hangs over our heads. The world holds its breath. Politicians use war-time language. The enemy is there, intangible, invisible, but quite real, in the form of an elusive virus which spreads desolation and death in its wake.
This indefinite, irrational threat causes behaviors of a similar nature. Suddenly, everybody has become an expert in epidemiology, giving his definitive opinion on the matter. While certain politicians call for the formation of a world government. Conspiracy theories proliferate on the social networks. Some are convinced that this virus does not exist and that all these stories are no more than a vast deception; others, on the contrary, assert that this virus is a biological weapon manufactured by men without faith or law who want to exterminate half the planet.
All these theories are part of the general panic that crushes and suffocates a good part of mankind in these times when the storm rages everywhere and rumors and fear run unchecked along streets emptied of their usual crowds.
This profound anxiety affects more people than the virus itself and man resembles nothing so much as a fly above which suddenly looms the shadow of a hand. The fly does not know what the threat is, but feels it and freezes. Is that the ideal of man, to resemble an insect usually found hovering around putrefaction? God knows that intellectual and spiritual putrefaction was never so pervasive and anxiety-provoking as today, thanks to social media.
It is a dangerous temptation for man to cower in times of crisis, when facing a mysterious threat. We have here all the elements of a major crisis: the virus cannot be seen and the motive for all the political or ecclesiastical reactions seems beyond reason. Man, who wants to understand and dominate, hates nothing more than to suffer situations over which he has no control. His impotence increases his anxiety. Instead of rousing himself to fight, he remains passive consuming an excess of information and conspiracy theories which lead him into an even more alarmist depression.
This snare is the true terror that paralyzes souls. We must avoid it, leaving behind all possible theories about the origin of the virus and its spread throughout the world. To remain on the level of these secondary causes is the attitude of the fly. This attitude is fruitless, harmful, and must be avoided at all costs. In man’s history, times of epidemics always involved witch hunts and useless and exhausting stampedes to find the ideal scapegoat.
On the other hand, we must imitate the bee, which makes honey out of any flower, even if the flower is poisoned. This image of the bee gathering nectar and pollen translates accurately the words of St. Paul: To them that love God all things work together unto good.
When the storm rages, it is time to move away from sterile and unhealthy withdrawals, to raise our heads because our deliverance is at hand, and to look upon Our Lord Jesus Christ who is in the boat that seems ready to sink. Christ is there, resting with the sleep of the just and asking us to trust Him without panicking. Above and beyond the clamor and turmoil of secondary causes, God keeps His divine hand on the rudder of the world and remains the uncontested Master of all events.
What does the sleep of our Savior teach us? It teaches us that we must stop whining as we buzz about like the restless fly. It teaches us that we must stop accusing others of their incompetence, or passing peremptory judgements, or crying over the loss of Masses and of easy access to the sacraments. It especially teaches us that it is high time to reflect on the quality of our Christian life. We will thus imitate the harvest of the hardworking bee.
Before this crisis affected us by depriving us of the ordinary aids of religion, were we not lukewarm Christians, settled in a comfortable routine where the essential was to fulfill a Sunday obligation, much as one fills out a tax return? Who were we? Hadn’t we reduced our Catholicism to a simplistic and life-sapping moralism, rather than heeding the call to make the glory of our Father in Heaven manifest, following the example of Christ? Were we faithful servants, living under the eyes of our divine Master, eager to offer Him the joyful homage of our prayers and sacrifices? Alas!
This present crisis is a wake-up call for us, to look at things in the right perspective. We must heal from this selective vision that forces us to focus only on secondary causes. Let us raise our heads and turn towards Heaven, from where the light of the True Cause comes.
We will then understand that, before losing physical access to the benefits of religion, we had already lost them spiritually by our indifference and our vain seeking of self. We must accuse ourselves of this guilty negligence, grateful that God grants us His mercy by inviting us to convert, and thus, grateful for the present necessary purification.
In this time of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us ask the Holy Ghost to lead us internally, in order to become another Simon of Cyrene. Are we deprived of the liturgy of the Church? Let us make our days into liturgies offered to God the Father. Let us make our life of prayer a necessity and a refuge for our souls, bent under the weight of uncertainty. May God make our faith in our Savior to be not theoretical, but practical, knowing that through these oppressive hours, opportunities are given to us to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Wasn’t He the first to obey civil authority – even when exercised by a foreign, occupying power – thus acknowledging the authority of His Father? Following the example of Our Lord, we subject ourselves with humility to the authority which imposes restrictions that limit our freedom. May we thus offer reparation for the occasions when we misused that same freedom.
Lucia of Fatima encouraged us to enter into the spirit of penance without waiting to be invited by the authorities of the Church. It is now time to answer with generosity this salutary advice by offering in peace the hours that we live. God will make them bear fruit for His glory and our salvation.
In Christo Sacerdote et Maria,
Fr. Yves le Roux