December 16, 2021, The Wanderer:
By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK
The occasion of a 50th jubilee wedding celebration was a cause for contemplating the courage of cooperation with God. Surrendering to His plan through openness to life, and raising eight children in the faith, would leave any person open to the possibility of fear. So many risks and unknowns. Yet today they are full of joy, a growing family still, enjoying the love that comes from openness to God’s plan which makes necessary the rejection of fear and selfishness.
The expressions both public and private of our faith are more intense at this time of year than any other.
Our weakness in the face of forces beyond our control can only be answered by surrender. Only one surrender brings good and not evil. God alone can give us the refuge we seek.
Christmas trees and crèches and messages of joy connected to God’s initiative of salvation in the Incarnation of our Lord dominate the landscape around us in December. Catholic iconography and holy images are freely adopted by many who do not share our faith. For a short while each year, all the world seems Catholic once again.
This boldness of proclamation seems to arouse hatred, or perhaps triggers mental illness. More than 100 incidents of vandalism have been reported since May 2020, according to the USCCB. Reminders of God are not welcomed by those who wish to deny death or escape judgment for unrepented sin. This clinging to sin is enabled by spiritual blindness, the handmaid of evil.
The latest target of malevolent rage was not a seasonal display, but rather a permanently installed Carrara marble statue of Our Lady of Fatima on the grounds of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. A man hammered away at the face of our Lady’s image, shearing off the nose and sawing off her hands.
We are saddened by this manifestation of rage but must always forgive. He kept the hands; perhaps our Lady will teach him to put his hands together in loving submission to God through prayer by means of her own.
Christmas trees were also targeted in recent weeks by arsonists in New York City and in Oakland, Calif. Vandalism is not easily diagnosed. All it takes is kids on a dare with little thought of consequences to cause major damage. Experience has shown that hate is operating in most instances of defacing or destruction of sacred reminders.
Our places of Catholic faith at all times are rich in symbols and art as well as ubiquitous throughout our country, providing easy targets. Investing in signs of faith enables our Church to be more a source of salt and light to our badly secularized and banalized culture. The leveling off of the landscape to the purely commercial must find an antidote in the churches that beckon with bells, stained glass, architecture, and sculpture.
Faith is the answer to our societal sickness, a spiritual malaise that disregards the Creator while misusing and over-depending upon creatures.
The annual irony of the Christmas season is the dueling realities of, on the one hand, the proclamation of the spiritual gift of grace in the Holy Child born on the first Christmas and, on the other, an excessive emphasis on material things.
Faith urges us to see ourselves as already rich in what matters most. Such a conviction acts to detach us more fully from an overreliance on the physical and tangible which ends in replacing God with idols. An early intervention can obviate the sad experience that results from repeated attempts to fill our deepest spiritual hunger materially with what can only be satisfied by the intangibles of grace.
Fear of the unknown in a shaky economy or rumors of a coming scarcity of resources can impel us to react by hoarding. We can become obsessed in the attempt to control our fate or cushion our existence from want by stocking up.
Medical panic and uncertainty can throw the unsuspecting and credulous into the arms of rapacious pharmaceutical peddlers. We have seen a pandemic of fear, with a lack of understanding or appreciation of the natural immunity which is the work of the genius of the Creator.
Scientists and physicians have discredited themselves by rejecting simple medical interventions with few or no side effects, other than restored health, while forcing the vaccine as the only alternative.
Fear can shut off trust and blind one to the evidence of natural ability to fight off illness in the simple fact that mankind is still on Earth and has been since the creation of our two first parents as taught by Scripture.
Mass medical vaccine prescriptions by one overpaid D.C. bureaucrat who hasn’t treated a patient in years is preferred to the normal individualized doctor-patient relationship.
Useless attempts at control can both spring from fear and feed fear, in a vicious cycle that leaves one careening from one dependency to another.
The spiritual life attends to the interior good, recognizing that there are indeed moments when external medical or physical intervention is necessary, while never surrendering to the pressure to relegate the interior life to anything less than a constant priority.
The interior life fed by prayer must be the medicine we seek at all times for the sake of wellness of both body and soul.
Faith is the prioritization of the soul over the body, the eternal over the temporal and temporary.
A sick or corrupt society in which profit overrides health and professionals unscrupulously manipulate those who depend on them for care will stigmatize those who refuse to conform to the medically suspect program mandated for the masses.
The vaccine for the real pandemic, one of fear, is faith. There is no real control possible over physical reality, the span of human life or the world in which we live. Only faith can open the possibility of cooperating with the Creator, acknowledging our complete dependence upon Him now and in eternity.
Through prayer, committed, regular and sincere, we grow in faith.
Every time we kneel and pray, every time we seek the silence of our church and the glow of the tabernacle lamp beckoning within, we receive another dose of the only vaccine that conquers our greatest enemy, he who through fear and sin can cast both body and soul into Gehenna.
In the Mass, the perfect prayer, we truly meet and receive the One in whose infinite and everlasting love all the answers to our probing questions and baseless fears lie.
“Fear is useless. What is needed is Faith.”
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.