LETTER TO THE EDITOR – ON PRAYER IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

 

VARGHESE PAMPLANIL

 

The prayer to the Christian Sky God to escape from the scourge Covid- 19.

 

What prompted me to write this Letter to the Editor is the prayer on Coronavirus Pandemic published in CCV on 30th March 2020 at the behest of Cedric Prakash S.J.

 

Taslima Nasrin has observed pertinently:  “Mecca to Vatican Covid – 19 proves, when human beings are in peril, gods flee first” for cover  trying to save for  their  skins. She adds “Gods are saviours for many, the ones they pray to throughout the year for protection. But when humanity is in peril, it is usually the gods who flee first. Diseases are not cured by Allah, God or Bhagavan; diseases are cured by scientists. Human beings are not saved by supernatural powers, but by other human beings.”

 

News reports indicate that concerned organisations in the world are engaged in scientific search to eradicate the pandemic Coronavirus.

 

Directing prayers to the “behinds” of the fleeing gods, may not be of much avail. Pandemics happen, not due to the dearth of supplications to one’s favourite deity, but because of the misdoings of humans. Praying for deliverance is, chasing will-o'-the-wisp.

 

On the world stage of play, Pope Francis, as the head of the Catholic Church, is beholden to act his part urging believers to pray to their “Sky God” to save them from the Satanic scourge Covid –19. He is discharging his duties; but what is the role of sidekicks like Cedric Prakash in the Covid–19 drama?

 

I have a poser to Cedric Prakash S.J. : The planet earth is the home of 7.9 billions of homo sapiens as of now. The inflated figure of “name-sake Catholics” released by the Church is 1.2 billion. The remaining 7.9 billion humans may have their own gods/totems. Incidentally an African tribe call their god “Amma”. But the Christians, especially the Catholic varirty,  arrogate that theirs is the “true god and true religion” similar to the  claims of some other outfits/ religions of Abrahamic lineage.

 

No doubt the prayer composed by Pope Francis contains beautiful words. But what purpose will be achieved by reciting the said  prayer?  Why not pray in the words of Francis of Assisi (role model of the pope) or that of Cardinal Newman?

 

The stark reality is, the ever continuing “apply applies, but no replies”: to the imaginative “Christian Father in Heaven” will not be answered as he is not the next door guy to be swayed by the empty words of praise or entreaties of humans.

 

Covid – 19 may have the last laugh.

 

Permit me to quote a few versus, considered relevant, which I have come across in the “Gitanjali” composed by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore:

 

“Here is thy footstool and there rest thy feet where live the poorest, and lowliest, and lost.

When I try to bow to thee, my obeisance cannot reach down to the depth where thy feet rest among the poorest, and lowliest, and lost,

Pride can never approach to where thou walkest in the clothes of the humble among the poorest, and lowliest, and lost.

My heart can never find its way to where thou keepest company with the companionless among the poorest , the lowliest, and lost”

 

“This is my prayer to thee, my lord —strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.”

 

“When the heart is hard and parched up, come upon me with a shower of mercy.

When grace is lost from life, come with a burst of song.

When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me from beyond, come to me my lord of silence, with peace and rest.

When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner, break open the door, my king, come with the ceremony of a king.

When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one, and thou wakeful, come with thy light and thunder.

———————————————————————————————–

“No more noisy, loud words from me —such is my master’s will. Henceforth I deal in whispers. The speech of my heart will be carried on in murmurings.

 

And finally:

“Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!

Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathmaker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil.

Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation; he is bound with us all forever.

Come out thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy cloths become tattered and stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.”

 

My humble plea to the likes of Cedric Prakash S.J.:

“ Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

       Where knowledge is free;

 

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

             Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not been lost its way into the dreary desert of dead habit;

               Where the mind is lead forward by thee into ever widening thought and action —

               Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”

 

Thank you,

Varghese Pamplanil

(On All fools day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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