Trump’s Bible Study group minister believes COVID-19 is a manifestation of God’s anger toward us. What does spirituality have to do with it?
The COVID-19 virus has been described as a moral test, a trial to our ways of living, a rapture, reckoning with the Wrath of God by some. But not all people of faith agree with these harsh and punishing views. Some see a different meaning in the scale of the pandemic, a call for an awakening — a recognition of our interconnectedness beyond the physical.
“Spirituality is a way of being and a way of living as individuals and in a community. With the pressure brought by this pandemic, we are living a very intense spiritual moment. We are forced to acknowledge that invisible forces have an impact in our physical world,” said Father Gabriel Mejía, a Colombian Claretian priest, founder of the award-winning rehabilitation program, Hogares Claret.
Tests and Crisis Are Not Synonyms
With massive unemployment, insufficient medical equipment and leadership that shows more interest in money than life, it’s getting harder to believe.
“Yes, this virus has forced us to look inside and face the banality of the world. Yes, in the west we know a lot about competition and little about compassion. We have lost ‘the will to finding meaning in life’, as Victor Frankel called it. But we are always connected to love, we are love, even when we don’t see it. So this virus has come to show us other ways of seeing and understanding ourselves and our priorities.”
For 35 years, his consciousness-based education — a combination of Victor Frankel’s Logotherapy and Transcendental Meditation — has taken 45,000 children and youth out of drugs, homelessness and gang violence in different countries in Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina.
“This pandemic does not discriminate. When the virus arrives there are no walls or borders. The rich, the poor and the prince get sick. Everyone can rediscover the ignore the presence of God in their lives — the opportunity to be born and reborn every day, continuously, and the opportunity to be, every day, a different person. Without spirituality, there’s not rehabilitation. In my experience with children and adults, I have seen it’s always possible to recuperate in every person their infinite potential.”
The Spiritual Meaning of the Pandemic
For Father Mejía, the change in the world is irreversible, but it doesn’t have to be filled with panic and fear. “The spiritual meaning of this pandemic is an awakening of consciousness. The planet screamed we were reaching an unsustainable point driven by profit-motivated destruction of natural resources. We don’t know how this will pass, but after science stops this pandemic, many would have had to face a crash landing. We have seen that we can die, that we are absolutely fragile, and that no one can buy life. This virus is a blessing that makes us look at how relative everything is.”
Fear or Faith or Both
The Father recognized these are times of undesirable thoughts and negativity, but also times of internalization, of connecting within, of finding guidance in our personal ideas of supreme beings.
“We have to accept the challenge of this pandemic. We have to admit fear to experiment safely. Fear shows up, and we don’t have to fear it. Fear is a thief of our happiness, but it’s not permanent, it comes and goes as the clouds in the sky, it exists within us as a seed. We can choose not to give it importance.”
Also, for him, it’s important to have the capacity to transcendent, to find the silence within. Father Mejía has been a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation for more than 30 years
“Religion and spirituality are two different things. There are many religions, but spirituality is just one. In these silence and reclusion — we don’t know for how long they will go — we are increasing our intelligence. We don’t have to look for knowledge outside, we can find it within.”
For people practicing a religion, he recommends praying with faith and confidence. “The plenitude of love is confidence in hard times, like now. Know that you are irradiating your own vibe. Jesus became human to show how to live and how to die, and he showed us resurrection, beyond time and space, he shows us that everything here is transitory. There is no fear in love. If we own that the creator of the universe is within us, then there is no fear. Insecurity and fear become relative.”