Priest's Perspective

Priests Perspective

I share here, with you the insightful thoughts of Deacon John Aitchison. As we struggle to work out our place and our process in this world, may these words guide your hearts to seek Christ in all His fullness and to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to live “In Christ and With Christ and Through Christ. I am grateful to Deacon John, who is a man who God has gifted with great wisdom.

You are on your own

We are at a difficult time. The old normal (defaced as it was by inequality and corruption) has not been ended by the pandemic, but in many ways made worse, in spite of early hopes that we were seeing a new dawn of human collaboration and care for each other in adversity.

There are three models of what happened when the Corona virus first enters a country.

The first group of countries are those that have successfully stifled the spread of the virus through a firm, disciplined lockdown (which also gave the health system time to gear up) and the effective testing and tracing of everybody (yes everybody) infected. Example are New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and to some extent China.

The second model has a fairly effective initial lockdown but not enough testing and tracing and then when the lockdown is eased a second wave starts. A good example here is Australia where local lockdowns have now been re-imposed.

The last group are those where either the initial lockdown was imposed too late or the easing of the lockdown was done too early with huge waves of infections. The United States of America is a classic case of both happening, the direct result of its amoral, corrupt and moronic political leadership.

If we look at South Africa, we had an hard initial lockdown but the gearing up of the health system was severely compromised by the endemic corruption in government and the private sector at national, provincial and local levels. The easing of the lockdown, largely at the behest of the big business sector and the media they own, was not implemented rationally and now we are well on the way to a massive spread of the infection, though that was probably inevitable given the poverty and inequality in South Africa. It became hopeless when people were allowed to travel crammed into taxis in addition to the difficulties of social distancing in crowded townships and informal settlements. The pandemic will be with us for some time and its effects on people will get worse.

Now virtually everyone knows or is acquainted with somebody who is infected or has died. Earlier it was easier, particularly for middle class people, to live in a sort of bubble with their close friends and de facto continue some sort of social activity. This time has now ended. As the disease spreads, every human interaction you have is potentially with an infected person. And even if young school children are less likely to develop symptoms of the disease, they are just as capable of spreading it as any adult. One of the results is a growing sense of anxiety even whilst we are all being told we are returning to “normal”.

Part of the anxiety is that now we are in effect being told “You are on your own!” We are now responsible for our own safety and our own survival. At least during the first hard lockdown days we felt that at least somebody was in control of things. Psychologically that sense of security is gone, its loss exacerbated by the ongoing corruption in the procurement of health equipment and the delivery of food and income support. And it is very difficult to endure anxiety over an extended period. It debilitates us and wears us down.

What are we to do? Now is indeed a time to use the language of the Apocalypse about the endurance of the saints. We have to hang in, hold on. We have been told we are on our own – yes, we are the ones responsible now. We have to protect ourselves and those we love as best we can. We have to learn to be gentle on ourselves. We have to accept that we may be anxious, depressed and wanting to be reckless just to get out. We have to own those feeling, they really our ours, but the divine Spirit is stronger than our anxiety, our depression and our recklessness. [For we are not really alone.] And we have to be gentle with others who may be having this sense of aloneness even harder than we are. We have to be particularly gentle (yet persuasive) with young people, in this modern age so used to immediate gratification and not given to the long haul.

May we all obey God’s instruction to endure and keep us from the hour of trial that has come upon the whole inhabited world (Revelation 3:10).

Prayer [Catherine Gorman]

God of all,
we cry out to you for help.
In your mercy, hear our prayer.

Protect us, Lord, and be with us
especially those of us most vulnerable
during this corona virus crisis.

Move us to reach out in love
to our neighbours near and far.
So that the humble may be exalted,
the hungry filled with good things.

Grant us the courage
not to rush back to our old ways,
but to rebuild our world together,
creating foundations of justice,
with equality and peace for all.

Amen.

( One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Day of Lockdown Homily 135 – 8 August 2020)

Be assured of my prayers for you!

Fr Andrew.

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