Our faith in times of Coronavirus.

Our faith in times of Coronavirus.

We are living in a unique period that defines our era. Many of our old certainties are gone. The Coronavirus pandemic worries us all and misleads us. We feel vulnerable. We got used to a fairly stable world, where life was relatively predictable. And suddenly all the certainties are gone.
We have never experienced restrictions on movement, we have never had restaurants, shops or churches closed. It was very painful for us to experience the Vigil of Easter only through a television screen. And so, it was a joy for us when, after the first wave, measures began to be relaxed and we were able to meet in the Church at Mass, that we were able to receive the Sacramental Christ again. I thought that all that lockdown, all that long fasting would teach us something. That we revive and realize what we are doing to our Planet and to each other. However, it was a surprise to me to see that almost nothing had changed in our behaviour. I was also surprised by the opinions and reactions of those who rejected the recommendations of pandemic experts, the Bishops’ Conference and other authorities. They came with strange opinions. And so I wondered if this pandemic did not reveal the essence of our piety and faith. Whether we really have a real hunger for Christ, which we can finally receive after a long fast, or we have a hunger for ourselves, for our satisfaction, for our ornate piety. Much superficiality has emerged in the arguments and attitudes of many people, which may lead to an indirect questioning of the deep mystery of the Eucharist, or rather to a misunderstanding of this mystery. Not to mention another problem, that the private opinion of a priest or lay person is taken as absolute, regardless of the pastoral instructions of the diocesan bishop himself.

Three levels of problems emerged the most.1 But the most important is the first one. It is a dogmatic or doctrinal problem. This problem has come to light in ´the eye catching´ assertion of some, that Eucharistic bread can never harm anyone. Or even more lovely: Christ has never harmed anyone in the Eucharist. And so, assuming this claim, that Christ cannot infect us with Coronavirus in the Blessed Sacrament. However, the truth is that we must distinguish in what sense it can and cannot infect us. The truth is that Christ in the Blessed Sacrament does not really harm anyone, for the Holy Eucharist is medicine, but it does not harm as far as the salvation of the soul is concerned. Christ will not lead us to sin, nor offend us. But the truth is also, that in the Blessed Sacrament the logic of the Incarnation takes place, that is, that it is necessary to think in the logic of the Incarnation. Here God, who is the pure Spirit, was united with matter, but did not absorb or suppress these properties of matter in any way. On the contrary, he preserved in this matter all the good that is in it, but he also preserved its decay and its fragility, as well as its mortality. Jesus Christ, as The Scriptures say, when He incarnated, became like us in everything but sin2. Thus his body was not a body that would deviate from the laws of matter. Christ in the body could be ill and could suffer. The Father created the world, that is, the Father created it through the Word, through Jesus, also viruses and bacteria and the whole dynamics of their functioning and law, so this Word of God accepted this world as he created it in the incarnation, and in its good sides and in its disharmony and corruption. We must realize that Christ put on the body of a sinful man, that is, the body of a corrupt person, he entered into the disharmony of the world. And this logic of the Incarnation is the key to understanding even the Blessed Sacrament. For the Blessed Sacrament is also a union of the uncreated, the Divine, which never can bring us any evil, and created, material, which has its perishability and has its defined material properties. The glorified body of Christ takes on the properties of bread and wine during transubstantiation, and it does not destroy or suppress these properties of bread and wine; on the contrary, it completely and superhumbly adapts to these properties. Humility is that God adapts to the material qualities of the body, that is, wine and bread. This also means that God does not make a material object out of the Eucharistic bread, a supersterile material object, or that the Eucharist would be virucidal. In his superhumility, God accepts all the bread-like properties, its breakability, its solubility, its shape, colour, taste, its chemical composition, even the porosity of its surface, on which nanometric particles of the virus can be trapped. The Altar Bread will not do anything with these viruses, because bread does not have the opportunity to do anything with these viruses. Thus the body of Christ, who accepts all the qualities of the material bread, has the ability to transmit the virus and cause the recipient to become infected. The matter of the Eucharist does not become miraculous or supernatural. The matter does not acquire supernatural properties, i.e. its improper properties. Except for the one that changes its essence. A lot will change, the essence will change. However, the essence is spiritual, not material. And spiritual things do not transmit viruses. And so essentially, the Eucharist cannot transmit the virus. The Eucharist thus never harms us directly, but when we speak of a disease, it can indirectly harm us. The virus is not a component of the Eucharist, it does not belong to it, it is a parasite, just as it is a parasite in the human body, and not a functional building block of the human body. So if someone claims that the Eucharist can not transmit the virus, he is wrong and does not understand the mystery of a change of substance and not a change of properties. When transformed, it changes the spiritual – the essence, but the qualities remain. This is a special spirit of transformation that happens in our world only in fairy tales. Because in our world, when the properties change, the essence also changes: e.g. when wood burns, the properties – woodiness – disappear, but the essence also changes – from wood to ash.

The truth then is,  that the Eucharist can infect us, and therefore the instructions of experts must be followed. The instructions based on medical advice are, of course, not evidence of mistrust.3 God can protect and heal us, but He expects us to be reasonable and use all the resources He has given us, including medicine and common sense.

1 Cf. Krampl, Tomáš: Homily 11th June 2020.
2 Cf. Heb 4,15.
3 Lennox, John C.: Where is God in a Coronavirus World?, The Good Book Company, 2020, Slovak translation, p. 42.

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