Paraphrasing the words of Jesus Christ, we could ask ourselves, what good is it for man to find a coronavirus vaccine to save his body if he then loses his soul? The point is that modern man has lost sight of this perspective because he has lost the sense of sin.
Many a churchman is praying for scientists to find soon a vaccine against the coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Perhaps the real problem is the salvation of our souls, which many Catholics today tend to forget. Praying to God merely to stop the coronavirus misses the point.
Of course, saving his life is the first, immediate, instinctive call for help that a man’s heart can shout in an emergency. It is to ask God for a way to stop the pandemic that is scourging the whole world. But it can’t be just that. As Most Rev. Giampaolo Crepaldi, Archbishop of Trieste, recently brought to mind, the Latin term “salus” means health in the sanitary sense of the word, and also means salvation in its ethical-spiritual and above all religious sense. The current experience of the coronavirus once again shows that the two meanings are interconnected. That is why we must not forget the importance of saving the soul as well as the body.
Christians know very well the warning of their Master: “For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?” (Mt 16: 25-26).
Paraphrasing the words of Jesus Christ, we could ask ourselves, what good is it for man to find a coronavirus vaccine to save his body if he then loses his soul?
The point is that modern man has lost sight of this perspective because he has lost the sense of sin.
One of the greatest Popes of the twentieth century, Pius XII, had lucidly foretold this development. On October 26, 1946, in the radio message broadcast at the closing of the United States Catechetical Congress, held in Boston, he announced that “perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin.” (Speeches and Radio Messages, VIII, p. 288). In the twenty-first century, we can safely say that this sense has been definitively lost. The man of our time experiences a sort of “conscience anesthesia.” He may still have a vague sense of guilt, a guilt complex, but it is no longer a sense of sin. All this because God has disappeared from the horizon of society.
It is sin, not the coronavirus, that produces the only real infection that we must fear, that is, the one that kills the soul. Today this infection also spreads through iniquitous laws contrary to God’s Commandments, which men flaunt as conquests of modernity, and through which some clerics like to call “pastoral-doctrinal updates required by a faith in step with the times.”
That is why one must first find a real vaccine against iniquitous laws such as those on abortion, euthanasia, artificial insemination, rules to combat the so-called “homophobia,” and gender ideology, that cry out to God for vengeance.
If Christians do not understand this or, worse, approve the iniquitous laws; if they are no longer able to react in the face of ever more numerous blasphemies and sacrileges; if they mindlessly commit idolatry; claim that violating the sixth commandment is no longer a mortal sin, nor is it to neglect holy days of obligation; accept cohabitation more uxorio [as husband and wife] and divorce; affirm that we should no longer speak of sin, but only of “complications” and “fragility,” then they should not be surprised if God replies that He cannot help them, and all they find around themselves is what the Prophet Daniel called the “abomination of desolation.” Yet, Christians know Jesus’ warning: “Go, and now sin no more!” (Jn 8:11).
If one loses the awareness of sin, everything is reduced to a material dimension, and physical death terrifies more than spiritual death. That is what we see happening in these days of the pandemic, unfortunately, even among many Christians. But if they no longer know the difference, what are they good for? They risk becoming like the Gospel’s “tasteless salt” that serves no purpose “nisi ut mittatur foras et conculcetur ab hominibus” (Mt 5:13).
Will the Son of Man still find faith when He returns to earth? Christians must always keep this question in mind, aware of their immense responsibility to keep the flame of truth alive until the return of Christ.
Years ago, Msgr. Luigi Giussani sought to recover a large part of the Catholic literature censured by the Marxist hegemony that has dominated the Italian cultural landscape since the post-war period. Giussani convinced the BUR publishing house to establish a series called The Books of the Christian Spirit. Among its various pearls, there is one I read with pleasure: the novel Death, Where Is Your Victory? by the Catholic writer and French academic Henri Daniel-Rops (1901-1965). In the novel, Daniel-Rops has one of his characters, Abbot Pérouze, say:
“The only life is that which comes to us from the struggle for our soul. … Today’s men despise this truth. . . . they have banished the notion of sin from their lives and books, and for this reason, they ended up in a muddy river in which they unknowingly gasp and drown.”
We hope that, in the dramatic circumstances imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, believers and non-believers alike can recover the awareness of the need to humbly recognize themselves as sinners so they can save their soul even before the body.
Source: Cultura Cattolica Curatore: Fr. Gabriele Mangiarotti
Translated by the staff of Fatima Today.
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