Everything stopped suddenly. The whole world, the whole planet. What seemed to be impossible has become reality. If we want to survive, we have to stay home. We don’t know how long it will last. What can the quarantine lasting since March 2020 teach us? Is it just an unimportant episode, misunderstanding, covert crowd manipulation, or a chance for a really big reboot?
THE CHURCH DOES NOT STAND ASIDE
The Quarantine Days revealed the fragility of our lives and of all the systems that seemed necessary. If we have tried so far to solve some problems separately, the sophistication of the world and the depth of the crisis force us to see the facts more comprehensively. How to perceive the current situation through the eyes of faith? We have several options to choose a direction. We observe the attitudes of the Bishops´ Conference of Slovakia. They listened to the call of the government of our country to eliminate the transmission of the virus, temporarily stopped celebrating worship with public participation, they write and say messages of faith and discipline, offer holy masses and worship through the media and social networks, and so do the parishes. After the initial shock and grumbling we got used to it and we respect this decision. It is worth mentioning an article by Martin Kramara, a spokesman of the Bishops´ Conference of Slovakia, in which he presented a personal view of the decision to suspend the celebration of public worship – he spoke of different type of heroism (heroism of discipline) that reversed the growing dissatisfaction of some Catholics presented on social networks.
HOW TO READ THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES WITH FAITH?
Always, but especially in times of crisis, the most varied thought processes, referring, among other things, to God, work in interpreting the signs of the times. There is usually a confrontation between catastrophes, idealists, realists, rationalists and spiritual equilibrists who can find the exact manifestations of God’s work. Epiphanists have some sort of old-new revelation that clearly speaks of it all. The sacrificionists claim that the only way to get through are the sacrifices of reconciliation. In difficult times like these they see God’s punishment for our sinfulness, which we redeem only with a giant amount of prayer and sacrifice that must be repeated over and over in order to satisfy the offended God’s honour that lifts its punishing hand and finally defeats the pride of man and makes it clear that He is the master of history, and we are only negligible crumbs falling from a table or puppies, which are abode as amusement for the true heirs of God’s grace (see Mk 7, 24-30). The Parousians are happy because the end times, which their prophets regularly announce, have come, and I guess they think they have (finally) hit it. Christ will show up and our earthly historical torment will end, or at least, all the losers will be given a lesson, to recover and to establish a millennium kingdom of peace and prosperity.
During his life, St. Paul had to solve a number of problems. For instance, in the community of believers in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, there was one problem connected to the second coming of Christ. “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.“ (2 Sol 2, 1 – 6). Paul calls for peace and caution in evaluating the signs of the times. He draws attention to the mysterious man of evil, whose abominable action will be against both God and man, and many people will be offended by his actions. It is a strange prophecy and will lure many to identify it with a particular historical figure. Thus St. Paul again urges wisdom and discernment, not to pursue uselessness, to work peacefully, and not to lag behind in doing good. (see 2 Sol 3, 11 – 13).
HOW TO STAY HUMAN
We are being convinced that discipline, creativity, flexibility and solidarity will decide who survives. In addition to cohesion, these will also be signs of a new spirituality. Virtual world will play even bigger role than before. Likewise, recycling will be even stronger mantra than before. Self-sufficiency can become a positive impulse, but also a dangerous trend that will suffocate us more insidiously than coronavirus. It is a challenge, for example, in the form of national food security, but also a danger of complete closure. We realize that the snare of mutations regarding self-sufficiency (our perception of self-sufficiency may change) will bring new questions that will test all our abilities. Especially how to become / stay human.
TO BE WITH PEOPLE
The German physicist and philosopher Carl F. von Weizsäcker claims that “it is Christians who should understand the need in our world. Because they do not have a rationalist program for the transformation of the world, they can stand wherever a person is needed.” Christians should be with people. Among them. And especially now. Not only spiritually, but really stand next to them. Many do. They sew masks, carry food to their neighbours, visit the sick, and encourage others on social networks. Pope Francis said in an interview: „These will be the key words for a new start: roots, memory, brotherhood and hope.“ We must not forget who we are, we need to be deeply rooted – humanly, culturally, spiritually. If we are not anchored, let us try. Let us not forget what has actually happened, what has changed in us – what has broken and what has grown. Let’s stop pubertal arguing, nicknaming and searching for dividing lines. Let us look for mature relationships, brotherhood, solidarity that saves and strengthens lives. Let us not remain stuck in a corner, opportunistically waiting for things to develop without ceasing to hope for a new day and a new life.
IT IS WORTH TRYING
Pope Francis longs for a culture of care to penetrate the whole society (see Laudato si´, No. 231). The American sociologist Francis Fukuyama in his work The Great Disruption (1999) says that „the reconstruction of social order does not consist in the restoration of hierarchical power, but in the renaissance of culture, in which it is customary to behave honestly and cooperate.“ It’s on the verge of idealism, but it’s worth a try. We are experiencing a „white“ or a big Saturday of history. The Son of Man and his world as we have come to know has died. Instructed by the epic of Christ, we are expecting a resurrection. Hope tells us that a new beginning is coming, scepticism keeps us down, and reality tells us not to lose faith. Neither in God nor in man.