My thoughts are dark because this plague and the necessary lockdown have put me in a bad mood. Again, I seek light from the likes of Novalis, Böhme and Berdyaev, at least a way to find hope in the Night and the mirage of the new Day. This surely is the essential message of these words of Christ.
I ask your prayers, since I have had an anxious week. I put up a posting on this blog that was shot down by a comment – and I decided that the comment was not unjustified. My thought was confused between my desire to reconcile this situation of spiritual desolation on account of the virus and the lockdowns in almost all western countries – and the existence of a loving and merciful God who cares… I gave consideration to the thought and reasoning of atheists like Richard Dawkins, because some of their reflections are a just criticism of notions of God that have no credibility for thinking adults. It all comes to a notion of apologetics and the ubiquitous problem of evil and pain to which C.S. Lewis made such a lucid approach. We all need to read Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain at least once a year!
The theme of today’s liturgy, with a commemoration of the Invention of the Holy Cross and the holy martyrs, Alexander, Eventius, and Theodolus, is providential. Christ’s Paschal Mystery comes in three triptych panels like the Incarnation: his death and Resurrection, his Ascension and Pentecost, and our present life whilst awaiting the Parousia. There is another layer to this last panel which is what we are living through today, the apparent desolation of mankind and the wait for some ray of hope brought by Christ.
The French situation is known to those who read the news. The choice of 11th May as a date for a first stage of relaxing the lockdown is based on the activity of viral infection. If carriers infect no more than one person, the deconfinement will be possible. There are still many incoherent things, like being allowed to go to work on crowded trains or queue up in supermarkets, but not being allowed access to a beach for sailing or to a wild place for a long hike. These things are being discussed. This week will be decisive. The weather may be our saviour, to discourage frustrated people from breaking the lockdown before 11th May – we are expecting more wind and rain, especially towards the end of the week. We have to hold out until the end, and then the 11th May will not be an illusory mirage in the mouths of mendacious politicians! I live in a “green” department, which will give us a few “perks” in comparison with Paris and the east which will be “red” because of the viral transmission and the capacity of hospitals to handle serious and critical cases. We can but hope – but we will still have to wear masks, keep 6 feet away from other people and keep sanitising and washing our hands.
I have mentioned it before. Many people live in small flats in cities with large families! I am in the country and have a garden. I have plenty to do, and I am getting some financial help from the State to keep my business going in spite of the lack of orders. I am grateful. The future does not belong to us – carpe diem.
To cut a long story short, Christ prepares his disciples for the Ascension and his being accessible to us only sacramentally. He is no longer with us bodily, and people alive today have never seen him. We have to go beyond our need for matter and sensory evidence and enter into the Light in a different and spiritual way.
Lockdown has taken a toll on me, as I feel its effects around me between those who take it seriously and suffer, and those who don’t care about anyone but themselves as they carry on potentially infecting others willy-nilly. I have certainly suffered much less than I deserve! As a priest, I assure you all of my prayers, compassion and empathy in our common experience of a serious challenge to our faith…