“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
“. . . so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)
“. . .pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent me.” (John 17:21)
With so much current world-wide confusion and mis-information surrounding the so-called Covid pandemic, the mandating of Covid vaccines and draconian ‘public health’ measures at present, many people and Catholics have presently found themselves in the position of being forced to choose a position on the issue. It is a position which, in more recent times, is being touted by governments as a choice for freedom. Freedom, they say, will only happen when certain vaccination targets are met to allow you a health passport. This freedom will allow you to travel freely, to work, to attend school and to attend public gatherings and restaurants. For those who refuse the vaccine the opposite is true – they will not be allowed to share in the privileges afforded to the vaccinated. This division in society as a whole (and even amongst Catholics) has essentially formed a rift between the vaccinated and the un-vaccinated – essentially having the unvaccinated treated like lepers or outcasts.
For the individual, this decision to jab or not to jab has to be based on something. Similarly, the way we may judge or treat a person who is jabbed or not jabbed is also based on something. Is this decision one based on fear or, by the power of God’s Spirit, one based on love and a sound mind? This blog does not aim to judge or criticise a decision made by any person regarding vaccination, but rather it aims to offer a reflection on the decision-making process, specifically, to help the reader discern which spirit it is that inspires our decisions.
So what exactly is freedom? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
“Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.” (CCC #1731)
So freedom is the ability to act or not to act using one’s reason (i.e. being informed), to make a free choice, which if directed toward God, attains perfection. Freedom is not the idea that I can do what I want and go where I will, as these actions can in themselves be good or evil, but rather, freedom is achieved by doing what you should do, being informed by reason, and has the glory of God as its final end. Following this logic, one can see that freedom is not achieved if a decision is made from a place of fear or coercion, as the following statement from the Catechism states:
“Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.” (CCC #1735)
Remembering stories my late father would tell me, I cannot help but reflect on our Croatian forefathers who had difficult choices to make for themselves and for their families. Under the Communist rule of former Yugoslavia, Croatians were offered the communist passport as a means of attaining certain privileges like better jobs, schooling, government housing, and a generally improved status and way of life. This passport, which was a physical manifestation of a choice for the Socialist Party of Yugoslavia, came at the expense of renouncing the Catholic faith and elements of the true Croatian national identity. Choosing to uphold the Catholic faith meant you were given less or no entitlements, little or no freedoms, the lowest jobs or positions and, in some circumstances, even death.
Countless Croatian Catholic religious, priests and faithful were suppressed or even imprisoned for their choices, as in the case of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. The ruling communists offered Blessed Stepinac the choice to break away from Rome and head his own church, and in doing so, be granted the freedom and the privileges that came with that choice. As history relates, he chose to carry his cross in imitation of Christ and to be a faithful son of the Catholic Church. Other priests, who made similar choices to Blessed Stepinac, had to be hidden by the faithful, going house to house, hearing confessions, baptising, and celebrating Mass underground. It is clear to see that these heroic Croatians were not influenced by fear or the lure of false freedoms in making their choices, but chose bravely for true freedom, despite being treated as outcasts by the ruling socialists. They were certainly aware and informed of the consequences of not taking up the communist passport. They achieved freedom by maintaining their integrity, their faith, unity and in doing so, giving glory to God.
It is my observation, that there are two types of Christians, those who primarily act out of fear and those that primarily act in faith. Fear is to the devil what faith is to God. When we act out of fear, we’re giving permission to the devil to lead us because that is primarily how he acts upon us – through fear and deception. God, on the other hand, has given us His Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation, which is, as St Paul tells us, a spirit of power, and of love and of a sound mind. We received this spirit of faith when our parents brought us forward for Baptism and when we were initiated and equipped as soldiers of Christ with the gifts of the Holy Spirit at our Confirmation. But how many of us act out of fear rather than in faith and with a sound mind?
Many years ago I came across the inspirational true story of the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste. I could not help but see the parallels between what they went through and the experience of our Croatian forefathers, an experience we are encountering ourselves and seeing played out in this day and age.
The 40 Holy Martyrs are commemorated on March 10. In the year 320 AD the Holy Martyrs died at the hand of Emperor Licinius who persecuted Christians, particularly in the East. We first hear of the Martyrs in a eulogy-type sermon delivered by St Basil. He relates how these 40 men were faithful and trusted soldiers in Cappadocia under Governor Agricola. Agricola found out that he had 40 soldiers who were Christians, and following the edict of Licinius, tried to force them to worship idols. Refusing to sacrifice to the Roman idols, all the 40 soldiers were jailed for eight days, beaten with stones, but at the same time also lured with gifts to give up their minds. Sound familiar? Rather than giving in to achieve freedom, they stood their ground in faith and fidelity to Christ. As a result, they were sentenced to death by freezing in the Sebaste Lake in the province of Armenia. The martyrs were herded naked into the lake, at dusk, in the middle of winter. Some soldiers were stationed around the lake to guard the martyrs so they wouldn’t get out. To coerce and entice the future martyrs, Agricola’s soldiers made warm baths and fires near the lake’s edge in an attempt to tempt the martyrs to emerge from the water and to warm themselves up first, and then to subsequently change their minds and sacrifice to the Roman gods.
This situation, to choose the proposed freedom, is the decision facing all of us today. In Australia the vaccines are heavily promoted, marketed, and coerced upon the population. Sure, the Federal government has said vaccines are not mandatory, but they have given private employers and corporations the impetus to mandate vaccines. No jab, no job is the slogan of the rule. Another slogan is no jab, no entry. If you are not vaccinated you cannot travel, nor enjoy the freedoms of eating out at a restaurant, nor enter a shop or public event. This is what is proposed to the people. Have the experimental vaccine and the government and businesses will reward you with freedom.
You may be saying that this isn’t about religion, it is about health. That is not completely true. It is, in fact, also about religion. Our Churches are closed! We are not able to attend Mass, receive the Eucharist or the Sacrament of Confession, baptise our children nor bury our dead freely. And yet, our churches are and have been used as vaccination hubs! It isn’t safe in the eyes of some to worship with the faithful lining up in the pews, but it is safe to line up in Church for the jab!
But even the Pope and our bishops have encouraged the vaccines you may say. Yes, this is true however they are not doctors or experts in this field. The Pope is just giving his personal opinion as a bishop. It does not carry the infallible authority given on a matter of dogma or faith such as that when he speaks ex-cathedra (from the chair of St Peter). His opinion should be listened to and considered in the same manner as all opinions, but the individual must then base his or her decision not solely on the weight of opinions but on the basis of accurate information gleaned from a variety of credible, unbiased sources (with no conflict of interest). The governments and religious institutions have made it a pandemic of the unvaccinated and our bishops have left us with the pandemic of the unbaptised and the un-absolved; a pandemic of the un-evangelised; a pandemic of the starving, made up of those who are unable to receive the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Christian life.
I do not want to make this blog a ‘medical science’ blog. But for the person who wants to be informed (not by politicians but by peer reviewed medical journals and the silenced medical experts such as Dr Robert Malone the inventor of the mRNA vaccines) it is clear that the vaccines have not done what they were proposed to do. If jabbed, you can still contract the virus with breakthrough infections, pass on the virus just as much as the unvaccinated, and end up in hospital and die from the virus at a rate no lower than the unvaccinated. This is all evident in the northern hemisphere nations that have the highest vaccination rates, such as Israel, Malta, Iceland and the UK. If one searches properly for this information with the purpose of being accurately informed (click on hyperlinks in article), one will discover that this is the result being observed, questioning the efficacy of the vaccines.
One thing is certain – ‘no jab, no freedom’ is the cry of governments world-wide and it has caused division amongst families, work places, society and even amongst states, territories and countries. Through my extensive research into medical peer-reviewed published journals, I have not found evidence anywhere that the unvaccinated are a threat to anybody, especially to the vaccinated. Yet the governments continue to segregate society with their mandates and their threats to the unvaccinated of withheld freedoms and privileges via so-called ‘health’ or ‘green’ passports. Our good God makes it rain or shine on the good and the bad. It should be Heaven’s passport we are more concerned about.
Continuing the story of the martyrs, we learn that upon being forced to undress and enter the cold waters of the lake, one of the martyrs exclaimed:
“We don’t take off our clothes, but we take off the old man. Winter is harsh, but the Paradise is sweet; the cold is strong, but the delight is pleasant”.
This response has the power of the Holy Spirit as its author. It is power. It is love. It is of a sound mind. There is no fear in this statement. If the response was one made out of fear or coercion, they would have jumped out of the icy water at the thought of death and ran to their bodily freedom.
After a while of suffering the cold and being tempted to take the world’s concept of freedom, one of the original 40 soldiers gave up, deciding that he would comply and sacrifice to the Roman gods. He left the 39 in the lake, and hurrying toward the heated baths and fire on the lake’s edge, died on the spot, as his body could not handle the rapid temperature change.
But that night an unusual miracle occurred: the lake’s water warmed, the ice melted, and 39 shiny crowns came down from heaven upon the martyrs. This miracle was witnessed by only one guard, the only one who remained awake, called Aglaius, who counted only 39 crowns, and then realized that one of the 40 had run out of the water and had died. Aglaius then woke the other sleeping guards, stripped his clothes and jumped into the lake, shouting “I am a Christian too” and in doing so, taking the number of martyrs once again to 40. At dawn, the Saints were removed alive from the lake and executed and burnt so that the faithful would not have relics. Thus, the Holy Martyrs entered Heaven on the true and only passport, stamped with their love and fidelity to Christ.
So what are we to learn from this story of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste and the actions of our Croatian forefathers? Certainly that fear and coercion are the vehicles of the devil. They do not provide true freedom.
What should the vaccinated do? They should pray. Pray, repent, confess their sins (and to a priest as soon as possible) and pray that the body of Christ (the Church) may be one. They should pray for the ending of this pandemic and not treat the unvaccinated as if they were lepers.
But those who are vaccinated should not be judged by the unvaccinated. What should the unvaccinated do? They, too, should pray. They should not judge those who, for whatever reason, chose to get the jab. But they should stand firm in their decision not to acquiesce to all the pressure. They will be offered prizes to become vaccinated. They will be offered the warmth of a secure job, travel, and the ability to move freely, thus sparing them the coldness of isolation, but they should stay strong and hold their line. Expect to see the vaccinated freely congregating in restaurants, public areas etc. Pray that those in government and our bishops do not force or coerce people to get vaccinated out of fear. They will use this emotion and coercion to make the ones holding out break – like the soldier who saw the warmth of the hot baths on the side of the lake. Do not break ranks. Hold your line!
What is coming? More of the same. If we look at the northern hemisphere and countries like France, the people are revolting. Vaccinated and unvaccinated alike are banding together – holding the line. They do not want to bow down to the idols of their governments who are just pushing for more lockdowns, more vaccines and more restrictions.
The fight is far from over. But take heart, for the Lord has already won the victory. Just as Christ suffered for us, so too will the body of Christ have to suffer. We are living in times that were long prophesied. We did not choose these times. Our good God chose us to live in these times, to be saints; to hold fast to the mercy and love of God and to live the Gospel value proclaimed by Jesus. If you find yourself combatting the spirit of fear, turn immediately to Jesus, remembering His words: “It is I. Do not be afraid” (John 6:20). Do not fear. Jesus is with you always. In humility cry out to the Lord. Stand firm. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18). Like the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste, hold your line. Do not listen to fear, but rather with the power of the Holy Spirit of God, have faith, love and have a sound mind. I urge you all – hold the line, whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated. We are all children of God. Stand firm against mandates based on fear. Resist coercion for health passports. Instead, pray and repent. Confess your sins. Storm heaven with your prayers and sacrifices for the opening up of our churches. Stop the pandemic of the un-baptised the un-absolved and the famine of the Eucharist. Let nothing stop you seeking your daily food – the Eucharist.
I want to leave you with a psalm to meditate on – a soldier’s psalm.
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’
For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;
He will cover you with His pinions,
and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling-place,
no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
Those who love Me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know My name.
When they call to Me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honour them.
With long life I will satisfy them, and show them My salvation.
Faithful Catholic soldier – Stand firm and do not fear!
Bog i Hrvati
The broad definition of coercion is “the use of express or implied threats of violence or reprisal (as discharge from employment) or other intimidating behaviour that puts a person in immediate fear of the consequences in order to compel that person to act against his or her will.” Actual violence, threats of violence, or other acts of pressure may constitute coercion if they’re used to subvert an individual’s free will or consent.
In legal terms, it’s often said that someone who’s been coerced was acting under duress. In fact, “duress” and “coercion” are often interchanged. Black’s Law Dictionary defines duress as “any unlawful threat or coercion used… to induce another to act [or to refrain from acting] in a manner [they] otherwise would not [or would].”