Book Reviews2 Was closing down churches the best Catholic reaction to COVID? Not for a seasoned Catholic journalist

Contagious Faith Contagious Faith

Philip F. Lawler is not only a seasoned Catholic journalist, but a bona fide Catholic polemicist. If you don't know him, you should Google him. And read his latest book, "Contagious Faith”.

The book is not an easy read. Not because of his prose, always clear and neat, but because of the bottom line of his issue: Did we, as Catholics, react to COVID as people who really believe that we live for a life in Heaven, and that the so frequently mentioned "common good" is actually God's plan?

Before anyone goes berserk with "Do you actually want everyone to die of COVID?" Lawler's book is not about denying modern science or refusing to practice reasonable measures demanded by charity. 

In reflecting upon the new book, Jeff Mirus makes clear the issue at stake: "the larger point is that, yes, there are things we are forced to take into account now that it would have been impossible or pointless to concern ourselves with in previous eras. But that does not mean the fundamental balance to be maintained between material and spiritual considerations has changed."

In fact, Lawler deals with the questionable use of power from political authorities and how easily people have ceded that power, but most importantly, delves in the many problems that comes with the decision of Church authorities closing churches and drastically limiting the sacraments when we needed them the most.

"As a society,” writes Lawler, “we had drained down the reservoir of Christian belief that would have given us hope to balance our fears. When the crisis arose, sad to say, even Christians succumbed to the pandemic of fear."

We indeed saw many of our Catholic leaders, maybe even ourselves, more worried about sounding like “responsible actors” in a worldly society than like believers in the ultimate Christian truth that we are all going to die, and that the best of our efforts should be put more in seeking Heaven than in prolonging earthly life. 

In concise chapters, "Contagious Faith" takes a look at how literally pagan we may have become when Church leaders tell their people not to receive the Eucharist at Mass and ban Confession, marriages, and baptisms. 

But most importantly, Lawler reveals how faithful Catholics responded to even worst crises in the past and calls on us to make our faith more contagious than fear, a faith that radiates hope, inner peace, and confidence in God's promises.

Phil Lawler has sixteen grandchildren and counting. Thus the urgency of the book's dedication: "To our grandchildren, whose hopes for tomorrow rest on our decisions today."

Contagious Faith, Why the Church must spread hope, not fear, in a pandemic - Sophia Institute Press.

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