The Contagion of Sin
I recently saw a meme saying that if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live in the 14th century, you now have two popes and a plague spreading. “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). I’ve also seen reports during this past week that the coronavirus has reached South Dakota. It’s good to be prepared, to exercise caution, but not to be alarmed.
Washing your hands regularly and staying home when you are sick are still the most effective ways of preventing the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses. We’ve also refrained from the sign of peace—which is always optional—during Mass since the beginning of the flu season. As an additional precaution, I will also avoid shaking hands as I greet people after Mass. You may also think twice about using the holy water fonts, especially if you have a weakened immune system. Best to carry your own bottle of holy water with you for personal use.
Again, it’s best not to be alarmed, but it’s also our responsibility to act with the virtue of prudence and not to be superstitious about holy things. Holy water is holy, and it is also water, which many pathogens thrive in. As we just heard during one of the Sunday Gospels, “It is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” We should not count on divine protection if we aren’t bothering to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves naturally. Getting enough sleep, exercise, and having a healthy diet are also big helps to having a strong immune system.
As much as we should guard against physical disease and use prudent measures to prevent its spread, we should be even more concerned to avoid the spiritual contagion of sin and those things that lead us into sin. To be committed to a healthy diet and spiritual exercise of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Avoiding contact with sinful influences in our lives, and especially to encounter the mercy and forgiveness of God in the sacrament of Confession. As during Advent, I will be available both before and after the weekend Masses to hear Confessions as we prepare for Easter and strive to cast out the leaven of vice.