Like many people during this time, I have come to be very concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. How it will affect our economy and our livelihoods. How it will affect those who are most at risk for a severe cases, and how it is going to impact the state of our medical system.
As a Catholic, I am heartbroken that churches are closing and the sacraments are unavailable to many. Yet, I know that the bishops are doing what they feel is responsible to protect us. I am saddened, but I think they have made the right call. Yet, it was only a couple of weeks ago, when I heard about this happening in Italy that I thought they were making a poor decision. Why didn’t the bishops fight back? Why didn’t they just release the obligation to go to Mass, so that those most at risk can stay home, but not ban it from all the people? Why didn’t they just suggest modifications to the Mass like we were doing in our parish in the US to help reduce incidence of spreading the virus? Is it because they are becoming more secular and a less religious nation? Do they have a lack of faith? Is the church being persecuted? This is our spiritual food, it is a necessity! I was saddened and disturbed. Grappling with the idea that this will be us next.
Yet, as events unfolded, I started reading actual news about what was going on in the hospitals. About the data and science surrounding this virus and its spread, and I quickly changed my mind. This wasn’t just a reaction to mass hysteria caused by the media. It wasn’t a case of government persecuting the church. And it wasn’t a lack of faith in God. This was a much more serious issue than I thought. This is not comparable to the common flu that we experience every year (although I am starting to realize why even that has the potential to become a serious crisis and why they keep pushing getting vaccinated). We soon found out that the hospital system in Italy was getting completely overwhelmed. There was are not enough beds or space for all the patients who are ending up in hallways and make shift rooms. There are not enough medical providers to care for all these people or personal protective equipment to protect the providers. And there are not enough ventilators to give proper treatment to those needing it, leading doctors to make hard choices of who would get treatment and who wouldn’t – who would die and who wouldn’t. This was a lot more serious than I had originally thought, and if we didn’t take precautions, it would be like this in the US also.
This experience has opened my eyes to the fact that we need to have charity when talking about these issues with each other and be gentle with each other. It is extremely easy to become outraged and angry with each other over differences of opinion and thought. Especially when it concerns matters so dear to our heart and soul. Yet, can we be respectful? It’s easy to become frustrated and ask, how can that person possibly think that way? They are wrong because such and such. And maybe they are. Yet, Can we show mercy to each other? Can we attempt to show understanding from where that person is coming from and the feelings that person is having? Arguing hotly is really not going to make a difference in someone else’s opinion, but showing some compassion with their thoughts and feelings when we share our point of view, may. There are many people right now suffering the economic consequences and are unable to provide for themselves. Please keep that in mind as well when responding to people that may think differently than you and don’t think a shut down of everything is necessary. There are many people who are getting older in life or have health problems such as asthma, diabetes, or are pregnant, making them all high risk individuals. Please remind yourself that next time you find yourself saying that only “immunocompromised” or “older” people are at risk, as if their lives aren’t worth protecting.
So, let yourself feel anger, frustration or sadness over what someone says. But please, be kind to them. They are suffering like you are. Be offended when people are being insensitive, crude and hurtful, stand up for yourself, but please, still be kind. Make your opinions know, share your facts. But please, do it kindly. And remember what you say to others, you say to Jesus.