Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Years ago, I enjoyed a television series called “Monk.” It starred Tony Shalhoub, a Wisconsin native, who played the character Adrian Monk, a detective who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. No, he wasn’t a Carmelite; rather, he possessed the psychological malady of OCD. His phobias created a world of anxieties, which were obvious in the accomplishment of his sleuthing. His powers of observation allowed him to make some astonishing determinations about the innocence or guilt of suspects. But, his OCD also put smiles on the faces of his viewers, as he demanded wipes every time someone would shake his hand or in any way would touch him. If someone coughed who was in proximity to his position, he would cringe as if he was being injected with the germs. This was a man who would be comfortable relating to the world through a plastic bag.
I think, in some respects, I now live in Mr. Monk’s world. I sanitize my hands using Purell or wipes, wash my hands frequently and am keeping my social distance from family and friends. I wear a mask in public, even if I go to the bank, where I am hoping the guard doesn't think I am there to rob it.
The unseen world can be scary. When it comes to viruses, we don’t have a sense of their presence. Contract this virus, and you only come to know it after the symptoms begin or the doctors have placed a culture under a microscope. You need the power of observation and scientific instruments to assess the movement of the virus and its effects.
Allow me to be a priest and offer to you that God is God of the seen and unseen world. We profess this as a part of our Creed. We speak of angels, good and bad, the celestial spirits and saints. With the spiritual, we are speaking of a world that can only be viewed through the lens of faith. Sin and its effects in the world are often detected only after souls have been injured and symptoms have manifested themselves. Sins are like a virus, which demand adjustments in behavior. Prayer and the sacraments are the treatment that breathes a healthy spiritual life eliminating sin. The Church and Sacred Scriptures lead us through the recovery stages. The virus is bad, no doubt, but it can only take away one’s life. Sin can affect not only our human life, but our eternal life as well.
I hope that when this pandemic subsides and we discover necessary treatments, and perhaps a vaccine, that our attention to the virus of sin remains. We must do everything necessary to combat sin and evil in our world – for we are not destined to live forever on earth, but to live forever with God in eternal life. This is why Christ died for our sins. So, let’s not be so careless as to forget to pay attention to the condition of our souls. Because of Jesus’ love for us, we, in turn, are called to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the April 21, 2020, "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.