April 24, 2020

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Fight against spiritual and moral maladies like we do against COVID-19

Sean GallagherIt’s been amazing how much people have learned about the coronavirus since the pandemic spread to the U.S.: its symptoms, incubation period, morbidity rate, how it can be spread to other people and how we can slow the spread.

Just a few months ago, relatively few people had heard of COVID-19. Now we’ve all taken a crash course in it and are taking bold action upon that knowledge.

We’ve given the virus this attention for good reason. If the social distancing measures that are so commonplace now weren’t taken, our hospitals would be overrun and the number of deaths due to the virus would skyrocket.

I am confident that these measures, as difficult as they have been, will allow us to return as soon as it is safe to the practices of our daily life that we’ve had to put on hold for more than a month—most especially the public celebration of the Mass.

But consider for a moment: if we are willing to make great efforts to get a hold on this highly contagious and dangerous physical disease, imagine what great good could happen if we were willing to similarly cooperate with God’s grace to battle the spiritual and moral maladies that run rampant among us?

The outward symptoms of these illnesses are seen in a hyper materialistic or sexualized view of the world, human relations and daily life. Sufferers try, unsuccessfully, to treat the dissatisfaction they ultimately have with these views through addictive behavior and sometimes, sadly, by suicide.

These maladies are rooted in an inward orientation of life in which sufferers focus more on themselves than on God or others, in which they seek fulfillment in this world through self-assertion rather than seeking it ultimately in heaven through self-giving here and now. It’s been around long enough that we’ve all been exposed to it and show its symptoms to one degree or another.

This spiritual virus is fought primarily in marriage and the family. And that we haven’t taken aggressive measures to battle these spiritual and moral illnesses like we have with the coronavirus is suggested in the fact that our marriages and families over the past generation have been overrun, broken down and redefined.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for these maladies, for as long as we humans have free will, we can always choose to let these conditions take hold in us.

There is, however, what might be called a powerful antiviral treatment that can break the hold of these debilitating conditions on people and our society. It’s God’s grace, which surrounds us every day like the air we breathe.

The most effective way to deliver grace so that it directly attacks these illnesses is in the sacraments of the Church, especially the sacrament of penance. It is there that the grace of God’s mercy can do wonders to heal our souls, our families and our society.

Our marriages and families may suffer grievously because of this spiritual and moral pandemic, but there is always hope.

Pray daily for your own family and others. Commit each day to cooperate with God’s grace to reverse the effects of these illnesses in your family. And take one grace-inspired action at a time to make it so.

As your family starts to recover from these maladies, it will show other families that it is possible, hopefully inspire them to do the same, and spread spiritual and moral healing throughout our society. †

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