Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Greetings to all. I am writing this to offer some pastoral words about our spiritual and mental attitude as we hopefully move toward some sense of normalcy.
Fear is a human instinct which can serve us well, but can also hinder the way in which we live. Fear would likely prevent us from wanting to hug a charging Grizzly bear, and is useful in that way. On the other hand, if that fear prevents us from leaving our homes because there is a slight chance we might come across a Grizzly, that fear is not helpful. An extreme and unlikely analogy, true. But imagine if all you thought about was the possibility of being attacked, all you read were stories about Grizzly attacks - you might work yourself into a very unhealthy state of fear.
In our current situation, there are rational fears surrounding the Corona virus, and reasonable precautions to be taken. But I would caution you against allowing fear to consume your minds and hearts. It is easy to get caught up in either fear of the pandemic, or conversely in righteous indignation (based in fear) about civil liberties being taken from us. Fear keeps our minds on worldly concerns, and makes little room for God. Unreasonable fear is not of God; God grants us His peace.
Reading Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, there is a rather famous section (4:8-9) where Paul addresses the mental attitude that allows for a proper spiritual orientation:
"Finally, Brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honor, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise... Then the God of peace will be with you."
Right now there is too much information being spread about this virus, mostly speculation and some blatant misinformation. The emphasis seems overwhelmingly to be on the negative, and frankly there are many who seek to profit from people's fears. In our faith we emphasize the positive; the grace God gives, our reconciliation with the Father through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, and the sure and certain hope of our resurrection. It is here where our hearts and minds should rest.
We venerate the Saints of this Church, not in outrage over their persecution, but in admiration of the way in which they held their faith in the face of terrifying pain and certain death. Justifiable fear did not stop the early Christians from worshipping and proclaiming the Gospel during the Diocletian persecution (although the Catacombs show they used reasonable precautions).
Please pray, and consider, and meditate on the Collect for Rogation Sunday:
O Lord, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
God bless you all.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Kevin Bell