The pandemic and faith is an interaction between Fr. Miguel M. Garcia, SSS, JCL is the Executive Secretary Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Permanent Committee on International Eucharistic Congresses Intramuros, Manila and Fr Chrysantus Ugwoegbu.
In this interaction, Fr. Miguel M. Garcia speaks on the silence of God, faith in the midst of the crisis and God’s role in the midst of this global scourge. In the midst of this calamitous event, many have woken from their slumber to question the why and mission of this pandemic scare.
Owing to the replicating nature of the pandemic crisis, almost everything has been incomplete confinement and lockdown. Public liturgical activities which supposed to witness its most beautiful and delightful garb was affected not substantially but in its normality. It then looks as if the classy Easter Celebration has also lost its taste. Here, Fr. Miguel M. Garcia speaks on the relationship of our faith in the midst of the pandemic.
Question: How do we know you fr.
Question: What are your thoughts on this pandemic crisis?
Fr. Miguel M. Garcia: The first time I heard of this coronavirus sometime in February 2020, I never thought it would come this far and serious. I was simply considering it just like the earlier virus SARS, EBOLA, etc. When I started hearing how it was getting serious, causing cities to lock down all over the world, that was the time that I seriously thought of it.
Fear swathed me when I started hearing death reports related to this coronavirus; more so when medical personnel were greatly affected by this problem who were supposedly well to give medical assistance to those infected by this. As the figures of affected persons ballooned and went spread all over the world caused me to panic internally.
This scenario led me to examine my relationship likewise with God, my faith in general is put into the test. And it worsened when eventually the government declared an enhanced community quarantine – a lockdown.
Question: What do you think can be the major effect of this pandemic disease on the faith of the people?
Fr. Miguel M. Garcia: Major effect of this crisis to the faith of the people: there is one common question that I hear from the common people – what is God telling us? Definitely, this leads people to examine their relationship with God and try their best to reflect on what could be God’s message to them. The timing of this pandemic reaching our country this time of the year when the whole Catholic Church celebrates the most solemn and sacred days of the year is something worth reflecting also. Despite these, I believe we still have good reasons to pray hard and not lose faith in God.
Question: Everything is now on lockdown even church services, definitely there will be no public Easter Celebration. Does it mean this is how God wants it or is the virus showing supremacy over the faith?
Fr. Miguel M. Garcia: With the present scenario and situation, public Church gatherings and celebrations are still on hold. Definitely, there will be no public Easter festivities.
People never thought that this virus is more powerful than our faith. As I mentioned earlier, the timing of this pandemic reaching our country is something we Filipinos have to look into. Non-public celebration of Easter never diminishes our faith; we still have means to celebrate it in our respective homes – so that is still a public profession of our faith in God who died and rose again for us.
Question: What can you say about the relatedness of faith and reason and the superiority of faith to reason in connection to this crisis?
Fr. Miguel M. Garcia: Expression of faith is aided or guided by reason. Relative to this crisis, this principle still holds. My faith is well informed with my understanding and reason concerning the crisis.
Question: In this crisis, you can see the devastating effect it has already in the world. Can God who is so loving see this and keep silent? Can we still say it is the will of God?
Fr. Miguel M. Garcia: God’s role in this time of crisis is never to be questioned. Personally, I do not believe that this is God’s will because I believe that God never wills people’s suffering and pain! In essence, God respects our freedom; this pandemic is man-made I believe and hence man’s will and a result of man’s freedom. Definitely, God is not silent – He is in control and in His time, He will end this crisis.
Question: In the midst of this crisis, prayers have been continually saying, yet the cases keep increasing. Is God keeping silent?
Fr. Miguel M. Garcia: Correct, our best weapon left for us is to hold on to our faith; to pray unceasingly and to trust in God. Again as I said, God is not silent! God is more powerful than this virus and He is in control of all these happenings in the world. So trust in Him!
Question: What advice can you give to the people passing through enormous challenges during this period?
Fr. Miguel M. Garcia: My personal pieces of advice: Let us be firm in our faith; let us not lose hope and continue trusting in God. We survived in many crises we have been through. For sure this will end and we will make it also. In essence, God never tests us beyond our capabilities and abilities; a brighter tomorrow will emerge after this darkness.
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