Our reaction to the coronavirus reflects the crisis of our secular godless society.
The problem is not the virus—as potentially lethal as it might be. This outbreak is a biological fact, like so many that have plagued humanity over the ages.
While a virus is apolitical, it can, however, have political consequences. Much more volatile than the coronavirus is the fear of it. A coronaphobia is rattling the globe. In this sense, the reaction to the coronavirus is extremely political and secular. It reflects a society that has turned its back on God. We face the crisis trusting only in ourselves and our devices.
Man All Alone
Indeed, the management of the coronavirus crisis accepts no help from outside. God has no meaning or function inside all the efforts to eradicate it. In God’s stead, there are the immense powers of government mobilized to control every aspect of life to prevent its spread. The mighty arm of science scrambles to find a vaccine. The worlds of finance and technology are brought to bear to mitigate the disastrous effects of the crisis.
While all human efforts must be used to solve the problems, they have not produced the desired results. Present attempts have disappointed a frenetically intemperate society addicted to instant, push-button solutions. The world has been forced to shut down with no definite timeline as to when the crisis will end.
For this reason, it is so terrifying. There are few mitigating institutions like the Church to make its treatment humane and bearable. We are left alone to face this great danger. The tiny virus isolates and alienates its victims, taking them out of society. In many cases, it is the individual against the State. Technicians in hazmat suits treat men and women as if they are the virus. In totalitarian China and other places, officials employ brutal violence to force compliance with drastic directives.
No Longer in Need of God
A virus is also a-religious. However, that does not prevent it from having a religious dimension. The coronavirus comes at a time when most in society feel they do not need God. For these, God has long been replaced by bread and circuses. The modern pleasures point to no need for heaven. The postmodern vices proclaim no fear of hell.
And yet the coronavirus has the uncanny ability to turn our material paradises into hells. The cruise ship, the symbol of all earthly delights, became an infected prison for passengers who did everything possible to get out. Those who have made sports their god now find empty stadiums and canceled tournaments. Those who adore money now find decimated portfolios and quarantined workforces. The worshippers of education look at their empty schools and universities. The devotees of consumerism face bare supermarket shelves. The world we worshipped is tumbling down. The things for which we glory are now in ruins.
A small microbe has toppled the idols that were once thought so stable, powerful and enduring. It has brought their worshippers to their knees. And we still insist that we do not need God. We will spend trillions of dollars in the futile hope of patching our broken idols.
However, one aspect of the coronavirus crisis is still worse. It is bad enough that God is replaced or ignored. We have gone one step further. God is banished from the scene; He is forbidden to act.
Among the draconian measures decreed, government officials are forbidding public worship. In Italy, they have banned Masses, stopped communion and confession. The Church and its holy sacraments are considered an occasion of contagion, treated no different than a sports event or music concert.
In their turn, the media mock the Church claiming that even God has been self-quarantined.
A Crisis of Faith
Sadly, some Church officials are only too willing to comply with such measures. They deprive the faithful of the sacraments just when they needed them most. They go beyond what officials ask even to the point of emptying fonts of their holy water and replacing them with sanitizer dispensers. They discourage the giving of the Last Rites.
Not even miracles are allowed. Church officials unilaterally closed the miraculous healing baths at Lourdes, in France! Those miraculous waters have probably cured every disease known to humanity. Is this coronavirus any more lethal?
Such is the state of our Faith in crisis.