A Te Deum for Coronavirus?

Given the reality of the coronavirus pandemic which besets the country and the world, it seems only a matter of a short time before the anti-God proponents start dragging out the same old, tired arguments which they feel attack the underpinnings of the fundamental concepts of Christian love and harm Christianity itself: i.e., how a God of mercy and love can permit such evil, sorrow, and pain to infect His flock which He purports to love so limitlessly. This is nothing new; this argument or one of its myriad variations, is dusted off and resurfaced every time some form of disaster befalls a sufficiently large portion of mankind: e.g. plague, disease, war, destructive weaponry (atomic bomb), excessive ideology (Nazism), etc.

In typical response, counter-arguments are largely crafted on God’s infinite goodness and immutability, buttressed by such notions as that originally promulgated by Jesus Himself, in Jn 9;3, where, in response to his disciples’ inquiries regarding the reasons for the man’s blindness, Jesus said, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.”This is effectively reiterated in Jn 11:4, when explaining the death of Lazarus to his sisters, Jesus said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”It is probable that this current situation will be no different. It has theological validity and has been broadly accepted in the past, a divine rationale in a divine plan.

However, there are alternatives to be explored. The current cultural environment, it can be argued is unique. (This is undoubtedly true for any identifiable era in that the extant culture may be the most basic of the identifiers of said era.)

So I began considering what it was that caused my suspicion of possible differences of the current situation from past tragic instances. This led inevitably to the contextualizing of this problem which led, in turn, to the identification of the forces of presumption which influenced and flavoured the sauce in which this event marinated. In my opinion, America has just experienced three years of bitter political rivalry driven by obsession with removing a duly-elected president from office on grounds largely confined to disliking his personality and disagreeing with his policies, not actual malfeasance. Allow me to opine further that, the real casualties in this battle included reliance of the actual truth, legal concepts such as due-process, witnessing to actual facts and efficacious elections. All these seem at actual risk. A brief review of the treatment of testimony, under oath, during the Kavanaugh consent hearing of the U.S. Senate will provide ample opportunity to understand this concern. It is important to note that analyses of the counter-arguments show that they are principally vitriolic ad-hominems which do not really address the issue(s) at hand. Indeed, these counter-arguments having been made, no true alternatives were put forth nor were the issues themselves truly debated. (See “Kavanaugh hearing: Transcript,” Washington Post, Sept. 27, 2018, from Bloomberg Government.)

Furthermore, as time and politics moved on, claims of illegalities in support of punitive legal or quasi-legal action(s) were found to be fabrications predicated on twisted or tortured logic connecting questionable (at best) or downright deceitful data points and which involved actual government agencies whose integrity was heretofore unquestioned.

Part of the importance in this context is that we were fed a steady diet of this material for approximately three years. The drumbeat from politicians and media productions took its toll. These consisted of a constant barrage of half-truths, untruths, counter-truths and anti-truths. This became apparent as did its depth and extent. It appeared to be directed at the very heart of many of the fundamental underpinnings of American democracy, many of which have their origins in fundamental Christian principles:human dignity and equality predicated thereon, freedom of expression, justice via due process and reliance on truth.

My thoughts now turned to a consideration of the author and promoter of this movement. It became obvious that this principal must disdain the truth to such a degree that he or she must seek to oppose and, indeed, destroy any truth or purveyor of truth. I offer that very few persons can actually sustain such a level of opposition. There can actually be only one, the Father of All Deceits, Satan (Jn 8:44).

I then concluded that, given the target of the action, its head and its deep nature and the abject and immense stature of its author and promoter, any opposition, if it is to gain any traction, must be sufficient to counter these assets. To me, the only plausible possibility with any chance of success is long and sustained prayer. And so, I and myriads of others (I am sure), began a regimen of such prayer.

Considering the nature of the opposition, as well as the methods employed and the content thereof, the requests of the prayers had to be of appropriate level and of sufficient content to effectively counter the actions and arguments of the Enemy. Therefore, I began to identify the basically ideological precepts which provided the basis for these types of actions and the characteristics attendant thereto.

So I prayed that the Eternal Father would reverse the selfishness in many persons of import which had dictated the nature of their debating positions and tactics which they devolved into and help them to return to point-by-point discussions of policies and protocols dependent thereon. I prayed that broadening divisions between opposition parties would be healed in order to face and resolve serious issues delivered with a unified front. Furthermore, I prayed that we could soon return to equitable principles considered fundamental to the civility and democratic foundations of our form of government and governance.

Having engaged in this process for approximately three years, it was tantamount to inevitable that this reliance on prayer would prevail in my consideration of the corona-virus outbreak and our response thereto. As stated above, part these considerations involved thoughts preparatory to classic arguments from progressive thinkers, including the possible motives and methods of a so-called “Loving God”.

At this point, I began to revise the aggregation of my thoughts and to reorder them, leading to the crystallization of certain conclusions. Initially I noticed a slowing and integration of criteria of the actions dictated and put into place. This seemed more in line with similar unification in prior times of national crises (e.g., World War I and World War II), during which a united nation was deemed essential to a successful outcome and, therefore, desirable over alternative postures. It became axiomatic that, in foreign relations, politics and political considerations, “stopped at the water’s edge.” (Attributable to remarks by Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in support of the Vandenberg Resolution on the necessity of bi-partisan agreements and presentations of foreign policy initiatives, ca May 11, 1948. Not confirmed.) This principle seems of late (at least the last two decades) to have gone by the boards (witness multiple trips to overseas trouble spots by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham during the Obama presidency and at other times). Current practitioners of this style of hyper-acute criticism have been largely silent since the onset of the pandemic. Opposition (Democratic) party governors of two of the largest and most influential states (New York and California) have taken the recently unheard of steps of praising the administration’s actions and thanking the President for what he has done. They offered some mild critiques, it is true, but these were most probably undertaken to maintain a modicum of credibility with their party. The President has reciprocated on both counts.

All manner of commercial and industrial entities and ventures are cooperating and sharing assets to assist in the effort. From closely-held companies, such as My Pillow, to those involved in cutting edge products (Tesla) to truly large global corporate entities (General Motors), the private sector industrial community has responded to the outcries of inadequate supplies of simple, low-tech equipment (face masks, surgical gowns) to complex medical instruments and machines (ventilators).

Other news items of various degrees of involvement and scale, including both individuals and charitable organizations and extending to other groups originally formed around other issues, humanitarian or not, were being reported on a common, day-to-day basis. These range across theological lines, from the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Catholic Relief Services to Franklin Graham and his Samaritan’s Purse, and many more which cannot be mentioned due to space considerations.

Soon, I began to notice how these various enterprises responded to the manifold and various pleas included in my prayers or in the prayers and requests of others promulgated in a variety of outlets such as charities, churches, government agencies, and responding to specifics of the various attitudes and tactics.

Then came the jolt to the apparent conundrum which is the genesis of this paper: How could your loving God allow such suffering? In this area, the answer is simple: He is answering our prayers! We are regularly taught not to anticipate direct responses to our prayers, but to understand the oblique in terms of a unique, divine parallel to our anticipated efforts so as to seek the proof of God exposed in His divine revelation. Here we seek His divine responses to our requests in other areas whose magnitude leaves little or no doubt as to their authorship: Pandemics, as such, must, by their very scale, have divine authorship. The rationale for them must have a correspondent scale and correlative authorship.

Assuming this, it would appear to be of utmost importance that we do the obvious: acknowledge God’s response(s) to our prayer(s) and, of course, to thank Him in manners befitting the divine scale of this undertaking.

George Klueber About George Klueber

George Klueber is a retired Federal Executive, formerly with the General Services Administration. In his early academic career, he studied classical languages at the University of Toronto. Since 2012, Mr. Klueber has undertaken substantial studies in theology and related topics at Catholic Distance University. He holds a Catechetical Diploma from CDU. A remarried widower, his wife, Rebecca Rivers, is an accomplished watercolorist. Between them they have 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Residents of Port Charlotte, Florida, he is a catechist in the RCIA program at St. Charles Borromeo parish in addition to being active in the Perpetual Adoration ministry and a member of the choir.

All comments posted at Homiletic and Pastoral Review are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative and inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.

Speak Your Mind

*