You don’t know what you have until it’s gone

di Joe Volpe del 7 April 2020

TORONTO - For the first time in my life, there was no Palm Sunday; no lead-up to one of the foundational events that reverberates with the symbolism underpinning the principles and ethic of a Christian society; no communally blessed palms at Sunday Mass to bring to the elderly or shut-ins; no visits to the cemetery to leave wreaths of palms in honor of departed family members.

Thank you, Covid-19. Now you are doing the same to our Easter celebrations and to our Holy Week ceremonies. You are giving new meaning to “social distancing” and personal isolation.

The Corriere is a very secular newspaper. Nonetheless, it acknowledges, the “moral/ethical” underpinnings of our culture and how religion has shaped and guided us as individuals and the values we collectively hold in common. Our readership, our audience is fundamentally Christian/Catholic.

Coming together at special times to commemorate special moments in our lives (for non-Catholics, these are sacraments and the rites and rituals attached to their periodic celebrations) has been an indispensable means for re-enforcement of ideals and for providing an indirect sense of purpose and direction.

Covid-19 is putting them all to the test in a way not seen since the postWorld War II “Cold War” threat of nuclear annihilation. Through that and the brutality experienced (locally) in China’s Long March, the War in Vietnam, the genocide in Cambodia, the re-emergence of the Slave Trade in Africa and the proliferation of deadly diseases like Ebola and Aids, there was always a steady reassuring presence of The Church.

It has, like a family, been a refuge of sanity notwithstanding the criticism, as a structure, that accrued to it because of the failing of some of its component members to adhere to the virtues repeated in its global message. Those ideals are at the basis of our Western Democratic Societies.

Our political representatives now seem to be complaining that the citizenry is not living up to their own standards of “common sense”. No longer do people defer blindly to the authority of government or its ability to pave an avenue toward a better future. If the Church could preach the three virtues of faith, hope and charity and not expect complete “buy-in”, why would any politician with an erstwhile interest in the personal well-being of others expect more loyalty?

Covid-19 has virtually shattered any faith/trust the public might have in the stewardship ability of our political leadership in the maintenance of socio-economic infrastructures. We are left to hope that [interim, self-help, avoidance] measures of reclusion will help. Hopefully, some scientist will come up with an antidote, a cure. In the meantime, governments are opening the floodgates to the national treasuries from where a veritable tsunami of funds is bursting to escape.

That’s not exactly what is meant by charity. Although it may not necessarily hurt, this distribution of alms is a poor reflection of the intention that we treat others as we would have others treat us. It is a cultural value rather than a temporary relief flowing from the breakdown of collateral issues of those intents, those goals.

How ironic that in this week leading up to the “rebirth”, the Easter of our calendar year, our governments are ordering us to isolate ourselves at home and avoid breaching “social distancing” lest we inadvertently introduce an unwanted guest, Covid-19. And our Churches are closed.


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