Are you afraid of the flu?

One of my major pet peeves with modern Americans is their fear of illness.
This is especially true when it comes to people who claim to be Christians.

Whether it’s discussion of vaccinations (ethicality or otherwise), distribution of Holy Communion (even though I disagree with common distribution of the Chalice, anyway), the technical rules of the VIRTUS program according to its website (church employees and volunteers are to stay home if they cough or sneeze, for fear of causing a lawsuit for infecting smoeone), or attendance at Mass (some say it’s morally obligatory, not just permissible, to stay home if you’re sick), it baffles me why anyone who has faith in Christ should fear illness.

As Fr. John Corapi puts it, “It is not fit for a prince or a princess of the kingdom to be afraid.”

Think Fr. Corapi’s a “right wing extremist”?  OK, how about this “extremist” “fideist” fanatic?

“And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28; this and next several from Douay-Rheims).

“He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it.” (Mt 10:39).

“2 And when they had seen some of his disciples eat bread with common, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews eat not without often washing their hands, holding the tradition of the ancients: 4 And when they come from the market, unless they be washed, they eat not: and many other things there are that have been delivered to them to observe, the washings of cups and of pots, and of brazen vessels, and of beds. 5 And the Pharisees and scribes asked him: Why do not thy disciples walk according to the tradition of the ancients, but they eat bread with common hands?

6 But he answering, said to them: Well did Isaias prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and precepts of men. 8 For leaving the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the washing of pots and of cups: and many other things you do like to these.[. . .]15 There is nothing from without a man that entering into him, can defile him. But the things which come from a man, those are they that defile a man. (Mk 7:2-15).

“41 And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is necessary.” (Lk 10:41-42).

So, what do you have to be worried about?  Don’t you know that every hair on your head is counted, that your Father in Heaven will protect you as He protects the lilies of the field?

That isn’t to say you won’t get sick.  As St. Teresa of Avila teahes, and experience proves, God’s will is often precisely that we *will* be sick and suffering.  God wants to keep us knocked down so we’re dependent upon Him.

But God will provide.  What possible thing is there to worry about in getting the flu?

Death???  Are you, a Christian, really afraid of death??? 

“O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)

Why be afraid of death?

“Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law” (1 Cor 15:56)

The only reason to be afraid of death is when we live in Sin.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep. (1 Cor 11:29-30).

When we sin, we place ourselves under the law instead of the freedom of Christ.  We lose God’s protection–except in efforts to bring us to repentance–when we live in sin.

That is the real reason people fear the flu.  They fear their own sins, which put them in subjection to the Devil.

If you fear death, go to Confession.  There is a Catholic psychologist who says obsessive compulsion is just a “guilt complex,” and that guilt complexes come from unrepented sin.  He recommends that compulsives make a constant prayer of Psalm 51.

Otherwise, if you are trying to live a holy life, if you are trying to be as close to Christ as possible, why fear death?  Why obsess over organic food?

If you die, it’s God’s will.  You can’t escape that.  Certainly, you must do certian basic things to maintain your life, but obessively pursuing health is contrary to the Gospel.

So you eat your organic food and exercise an hour a day and wash your hands every hour, and sterilize everything, and brush your teeth 4 times a day.  Even if you live like Adrian Monk, how can you add a single day to your life?  Can you really escape death?

“You fool: don’t you know this very day your life will be demanded of you?” (Lk 12:20).

“But I have responsibilities,” you say.  “I have a family.  A spouse.  Children.  Elderly parents.  They need me.”

Do they?  Do you, in your pride and vainglory, presume to be so important?  Do you not trust God to provide for them? 

In vain is your earlier rising,
your going later to rest,
you who toil for the bread you eat,
when he pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber. (Psalm 127:2)

If you are worried about providing for your family, live in a state of grace! Those who live according to God’s Will will always have their needs provided by God’s Providence. Those who die in a state of grace, and free from attachment to sin, will go straight to Heaven. The best way to provide for your family after your death is not a “nest egg” or life insurance policy.

The best way to provide for your family after your death is to become a Saint.

So, what have you, Christian, to fear from the flu?

One response to “Are you afraid of the flu?

  1. I wouldn’t say I’m “afraid” of the flu, but I really don’t like being sick. I’d rather get a little shot every fall than spend a week in bed every winter.

    As a general matter, though, I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking care of one’s health. Be careful not to confuse concern for physical well-being with actual fear. Yes, fear is wrong, but being healthy is not. Would you say that someone who excercises regularly is afraid of heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes? I would say, rather, that such a person wants to care for the body God has given them.

    People who are actually afraid of germs are usually under the grips of a mental disorder of some kind, like OCD. The next time you meet someone like that, think first about whether the source of their fear is really rational, or an uncontrollable obsession.

    Now, I don’t believe that you have a moral obligation to stay home from Mass if you have a cold, but I do appreciate it when such folks abstain from the sign of peace. I also do not think it’s sinful if they do stay home for illness.

    A little balance and perspective is all that is required, I think.

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