REV FR. CHARLES OJIAKU is a Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Orlu and had worked in so many parishes and apostolates. The wave of the pandemic disease has affected the world, charging every nook and crannies of the world, shaking the mighty to their knees, crippling every strong arm, and has kept every mind busy and every mouth clutching up in what might be the biological cum scientific rationale behind this unprecedented sickness that has ravaged the world. Through our platform Fr. Charles Ojiaku speaks on the positive and negative impact of this moment. Despite its negative effects, fr Charles envisages that the pandemic calls for more self-introspection and re-evaluation of ourselves especially when it comes to our relationship with God. Let us go through the interview.
Question: How do we know you Fr.
Fr. Charles: You know me already: our Orlu priests know me by Fada Charlie Ojiaku. Others call me Fr. Charles Ojiaku. There is nothing particular about me. I thrive anywhere I find myself. I am interested in Zoology and many people know me for this. People should tell you about me and not ‘me talking about me’.
Question: 2. What is your position on the recent pandemic affecting the entire world?
Fr. Charles: I have never read or witnessed anything close to this in my life. It is just unimaginable. But it is here with us. I get a feeling that God allowed this plague. In the Old Testament, when David did the first census, God allowed this type of mass deaths. In essence, when people worshipped other gods, God allowed plagues and mass deaths.
The big question here is: of all these shortcomings of the Jews in the Old Testament which has the modern man not surpassed in? God has been too patient, to be anthropomorphic!
Therefore, this pandemic gives us time to reflect and ask ourselves questions. The covid 19 gives us room to adjust our lifestyles. It shows us that man creates boundaries but for God, there is no boundary. In essence, the Covid 19 teaches us that man is not protected by all the hardware he accumulates but only by the goodwill of God. It humbles humanity and teaches us that no one owns this earth but God. Therefore, covid 19 teaches us to see each other as siblings and act accordingly. The pandemic makes us realize that each new day is a gift from God and a gratuitous one too.
Question: What Do You think can be the Major effect of this on the faith of the People?
Fr. Charles: A very good and salient question. Many people have lost their faith already and will not want to get it back. The aftereffect is that they will want to continue as it is now. Many religions or sects may lose many followers.
On the other hand, many people will become more faithful, remembering how God saved them. Denominations will survive but many people will not survive as their adherents. The bad effects will be seen among the youths. Whereas the old will pick up the pieces and continue in the fear of God, the youth might continue in their laxity and ‘laisez-faire’ attitude. Their mentality is: ‘we got all the time’.
The youth of these days have lost a sense of direction. The government has a greater portion of the blame. The youths do not care where they are going. Hence, they do not care what transport brings them to the destination. Some do not care and will only ask when they are there and they find out that their vehicle has no reverse gear!
In essence, this pandemic is a wake-up call for everybody. The covid 19 is an alarm bell. It is a reminder. It is the final note by a caring teacher to his students before the exam starts. Therefore this is like a revision. Covid 19 is simply a final call to order. Hence, It is a pointer. For St. John, miracles are pointers, signposts and direction billboards. The question is: who is watching? Very few! This corroborated Christ’s teaching that the road is narrow and they that march through it are very few. So was it when Noah built his ark. People laughed and jeered at him and his family as they laboured fervently. As it happened then so might it happen again.
Question: Everything is now on lockdown, and there will be no public Easter celebration. Does it mean God wants it to be so or is the virus showing supremacy over faith?
Fr. Charles: Lockdown is a hundred per cent good for a man! Go to our hospitals and you will see no patients. Why?
The hospitals are not empty because of the lockdown. They are empty because people have learnt to rest. Rest therapy is the first aspect of healing in any ailment. So people have started to rest and their bodies respond in a corresponding ratio. Complete rest brings about complete healing.
God rested on the seventh day. Did he need to rest? No, He did it to watch all he had created so far. Therefore, He wanted to teach the created things the importance of rest.
The state has imposed a complete lockdown. By this time next year, the state’s population will have increased by ten per cent because of newborn babies, thanks to the total lockdown.
The Church submitting to the lockdown is not cowardice. It does not mean that the state has defeated the Church. Rather the Church lives, encourages and teaches obedience to the elected authority since all authority comes from God. Therefore the state must in turn learn from the obedience exhibited by the church. Christ said that he was giving a new commandment. The Church, like Christ, is sending a new commandment by obeying the total lockdown. All must see this action as providential. So God is aware of all that is happening. We may not know the intentions or reasons just now. That’s why He is God!
Question: What Advice can you also give to those who are gradually losing their faith in the midst of this crisis?
Fr. Charles: Reason builds on faith. Faith does not depend on reason. Faith is a gift. God gives faith. Faith is spiritual. The reason is natural. It follows law and guides law. Therefore, reason alone cannot lead us to God. We need faith. Coronavirus is new to us. Our forefathers never witnessed anything like this.
People talk of the end time. I don’t think so. There have been many clues given to this pandemic. Some agree it was a leak at Wuhan, China. Others say it was made by an American, Dr Charles and sold to China. He has been arrested already. There are still others who blame it on 5G network of communication. Many more conspiracy explanations and hazards will soon feature.
In a way, nobody wants to own up. Many will make millions and tons of money out of this evil. Too many will die innocently. We might end up not having one to blame. So life may or may not continue. After this ‘battle’ the world will come to learn its lessons. Lessons like:
Nobody is stronger than the other.
We all depend on a higher realm of authority than human power.
Therefore, No country should act like she owns the earth. Hence, humans should learn the same lesson. No one should act like He is the owner of the world. Coronavirus has humbled everyone.
God has a reason to humble us to our knees. With time some of these reasons will become clearer. Why it hit Rome more is one of the things we are yet to know. I stop here before I bore you. Thanks for reading.
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