May 7, 2020
Security. Safety. Safekeeping. The human craving for protection against harm is universal and reaches its anxiety-ridden peak in the face of an invasive threat like the coronavirus. Intensive media coverage heightens the sense of impending doom. Granting that, however, some responses to the desire for security strike me as attempts to exploit the public mood..
In that category I’d put repeated internet ads I’ve received from a firm offering assistance in obtaining a legal permit to carry a concealed handgun; a solicitation, also repeated frequently, urging me to “protect” my retirement savings by investing in gold; and a heating and air conditioning company’s offer to sell me an air purifier since “with sickness on the forefront of all of our minds, the last thing we want is to be breathing polluted air.”
But possibly my favorite security-themed item -- though not an ad but a news item -- was a story out of London reporting that “across Britain” vandals were burning telecom towers in the belief they emit waves that increase vulnerability to the virus.
While making no special claims for myself and my fellow Catholics, I nevertheless believe that the faith we share can and should lead us to deal realistically with the issues raised by the pandemic.
An example of doing that was the U.S. and Canadian bishops’ action May 1 in placing their countries under the protection of the Blessed Virgin. For those who view events with the eyes of faith, that was no mere pious gesture but a realistic step in the face of a crisis. In the same vein, most dioceses, parishes, and church-related institutions appear to have acted with commendable good sense regarding things like lockdowns and social distancing, while Catholics collectively have responded with patience, prudence, and good humor to the painful experience of being without direct access to the Mass for weeks on end.