Why Spiritual Needs are Essential Needs

March 27, 2020

​by Cesar Franco

With the coronavirus crisis, things are moving so rapidly that no one knows what tomorrow will bring. The latest development is governors and county judges issuing “stay at home” orders. Nobody should leave home unless for “essential needs,” they say. Of course, religious services are not deemed essential and must be kept online.

The questions arise: What exactly are essential needs? Who determines this? Grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants with take-out services are essential because they provide for the nourishment of the body. Hospitals are open to preserve life. Transportation services bring citizens to and fro. All these things are considered essential because they preserve the physical good of the body.

In the frenzy to contain the coronavirus, is the soul not considered? There was a time where Catholics regarded the good of souls as reason enough to risk one’s life. Indeed, the Catholic Church has an honor roll of countless saints who risked bodily harm to do good for the souls of others.

The Value of the Soul

The third century young martyr Saint Tarcisius comes to mind. The early Church sought to bring spiritual consolation to those condemned to die in the coliseum. The Roman officials would not allow it. In spite of this, the brave young lad volunteered to sneak Holy Communion to them. Being so young, the guards would not suspect him.

During one such trip, a group of pagans surrounded and martyred him because he would not allow them to desecrate the Blessed Sacrament that he held. Not even in death could they pry the Bread of Heaven from his strong grip. By today’s standards, the health of the body is supreme. Saint Tarcisius should not have risked his life.

Saint Damien of Molokai

Another more recent saint risked his health to bring spiritual good to the lepers of Molokai Island in Hawaii. He judged the good of souls to be worth much more than the risk of his life. Thus, he did an incalculable amount of spiritual good for the souls of those people. He eventually died of leprosy and the world today remembers him as Saint Damien of Molokai, a hero whose name inspires respect and reverence.

Death Rather Than Sin

Saint Louis King of France had the good fortune of a holy mother, Blanche of Castile. She would tell him in his youth that he should prefer death to mortal sin. Her son took these words to heart and set the standard for just rulers. He is the model of all statesman.

The Salvation of Souls is the Supreme Law

People risk their lives for the Blessed Sacrament, help lepers and prefer death to sin for a reason. That reason is found in the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. He suffered to redeem souls for all eternity.  His death is a testimony of the superiority of the spiritual over the material, the supernatural over the natural.

The maxim, Christianus alter Christus, means that the Christian is another Christ. Imitating Him implies suffering and working for the good of souls. This is why the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Catholic Church and canon law.

In face of the coronavirus crisis, Catholics must calmly help preserve public health. However, they should not sacrifice the worship of God and relegate their spiritual and the supernatural needs to a secondary plane of “non-essential needs.”  By withholding the sacraments, Catholics are left without the most important part of their lives. The heroic examples of 2000 years of saints who valued the good of souls over the comforts of the body must be the model in these trying and uncertain times.

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