Acquiring Spiritual Immunity: A Sneak-Peek at Our Conference

This Ad Rem is a sneak-preview of one of my two talks at the upcoming Saint Benedict Center Conference. I look forward to seeing many of my readers there!

In the battle against COVID-19 hysteria, many wise critics have called out the anointed “experts” for neglecting the natural capacities of the human immune system and for failing to point out how that system can be built up and improved by diet, supplements, exercise, and suchlike. The chosen ones that the globalist elites have selected to tell us how to protect ourselves from SARS-Cov-2 speak of vaccines and other interventions that stand to make Big Pharma lots of money. This is the case even though the success of such interventions is entirely a matter of speculation and their side effects — potentially quite serious side effects — are largely unknown. (But that’s alright, at least these multi-billion-dollar companies will be protected from lawsuits when the products they profit from kill or maim!)

We should be grateful for the growing chorus of prudent medical and scientific professionals who are not beholden to the hysterical narrative. These are men and women who get no funding from governments, from Big Pharma, or from multi-billion-dollar foundations. They are willing to buck the oligarchs and have been telling us about the immune system and how to strengthen it. God bless them. They have also spoken of “herd immunity,” the kind of social immunity to pathogens that occurs when a contagion is sufficiently spread in a populace, allowing a large enough percentage of the population to develop antibodies to it so that the pathogen’s spread is drastically curtailed.

Analogous to individual and herd immunity to bodily infectious diseases are individual and social immunity to spiritual pathogens that threaten to harm the soul — sins, vices, and the bad thinking that can lead us to fall into them. There are many such pathogens floating around, and a healthy Catholic immune system will fortify us against all of them. For the purposes of my talk, what I would like to confine myself to are only those pathogens of the soul that have made people particularly vulnerable to the worst aspects of the coronavirus hysteria. Highlighting them will allow me to speak about those virtues and gifts that oppose them, allowing us to transform would-be spiritual maladies into occasions of grace and the cultivation of abundant life (Cf. John 10:10).

When Catholic faith or morals are attacked in an individual — by way of temptations against the commandments and therefore against the theological or moral virtues — those virtues themselves, with the help of the gifts of the Holy Ghost and the actual grace of God, form our defense.

Let me concretely illustrate how such an attack works. In the realm of the theological virtues, let us consider an attack directly against a revealed mystery of faith: the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. This is a dogma of our religion that has been revealed by God in Scripture and Apostolic Tradition. It has been clearly and unambiguously taught by the Church. Let us suppose that a Catholic is beset with doubts about this truth of the Faith when he happens upon a heretical attack against it. Aware that he is now doubting a truth of the revealed religion, our brother Catholic resorts to prayer and makes a fervent act of faith, exercising the very virtue under attack. As he has not departed from the state of grace by a deliberate mortal sin, all of the infused virtues, along with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, are still in him. Recalling that the virtues perfect the man, while the gifts perfect the virtues, we note that two of these gifts are there specifically to perfect the virtue of faith: namely, understanding and knowledge. In this case, because the matter under consideration pertains directly to a revealed truth of the religion, it is the gift of understanding that comes to his assistance. The Holy Ghost, by His operative grace, sets this gift in motion and perfects the virtue of Faith to overcome this particular doubt. It may be that this assault against his faith is so violent that our beset Catholic is in need of the gift of fortitude, for Saint Thomas says this gift is sometimes necessary for us to maintain the state of grace. After overcoming the temptation with the divine assistance, the individual is now strengthened in his faith. If our hypothetical Catholic is attentive to his circumstances and further responsive to God’s grace, he may also grow in humility for having realized his own vulnerability and dependence on God’s grace and mercy. Moreover, he may grow in prudence aided by the gift of counsel so that he will avoid needlessly exposing himself to temptations against faith. At the end of the trail, it may well be that all three theological virtues and several moral virtues have been increased.

This attempt at illustrating how such a situation might work is not an exact science. Not only are we dealing with a hypothetical situation, but we are also face-to-face with the mystery of grace and free will. But we do know that the virtues, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the other constituents of our interior life are there for our sanctification. They are all operative habits which allow us to make interior and exterior acts that are meritorious of an increase of grace in this life and glory in the next. We also know from Scripture that temptation can make us stronger. It was the first Vicar of Christ who warned us that we “must be for a little time [be] made sorrowful in divers temptations: That the trial of [our] faith (much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7). What might be an occasion of death becomes, with the absolutely necessary help of God’s supernatural grace, an occasion of abundant life.

What science teaches us about the immune system — namely, that encountering and resisting pathogens actually strengthen it — furnishes us with an apt analogy for what theology teaches us about the moral life, grace, and sin.

Before I go any further in my main line of reasoning, let me deal with an objection that may be forming in the mind of a believing Catholic who has also assented to the deceptive COVID-19 gospel of Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci, etc., and their accomplices in the mainstream media: “Well, Brother, the immune system can certainly handle certain pathogens just as our spiritual life can handle certain temptations, but, in both cases, the virtue of prudence dictates that we avoid reckless exposure to something that could prove so strong as to overpower us. Medically speaking, you shouldn’t deliberately expose yourself to Ebola just as morally speaking, one ought not to put himself in a proximate occasion of mortal sin in order to strengthen his interior life.” All this is true. Thank God, the cardinal virtue of prudence — assisted by the gift of counsel — is their to help us in both instances. But if the actual data are telling us anything about COVID-19, it is that it is nowhere near as deadly as Ebola, and is in fact roughly comparable to a routine flu bug for its killing power: A recent statistic reveals that 99.75% of people who contract it survive. In other words, I grant the major term of your syllogism, that prudence is necessary, but I deny your minor, that this particular pathogen is so serious as to demand lockdowns, masks, forfeiture of livelihoods, and other irrational and harmful responses to the coronavirus phenomenon. Prudence, in fact, dictates that we do away with the mainstream narrative, harmful as it is in a number of ways.

That objection addressed, let us consider for a bit the origins of that mainstream narrative. This will allow me to proceed to my next point, which concerns the gift of understanding. The mainstream narrative on COVID-19 emanates from a union of at least two distinct forces: (1) the globalist elites interested in control, and (2) their willing accomplices in the world of science. The former fund the latter, who often sit on the boards of their benefactor’s big-money foundations. Given their known devotion to population control, both of these parties are Malthusian. Moreover, both are invested, financially or at least intellectually, in what we might call the Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian worldview. This is the worldview of the empiricist, the devotee of the ideology of scientism. All this makes them partisans of a worldview that is in large measure antithetical, often downright hostile, to the Christian worldview, specifically that part of it that Brother Francis called “the Cosmology of Faith and Revelation.”

In light of these contending worldviews, let us consider the role of the gift of knowledge in our supernatural life. According to Father Jordan Aumann, O.P., “The gift of knowledge is a supernatural habit through which the human intellect, under the action of the Holy Spirit, judges rightly concerning created things as related to eternal life and Christian perfection” (my emphasis). While some authors think knowledge perfects hope, Saint Thomas says it perfects the virtue of faith. This is easy to see, as knowledge and faith both reside in the intellect. Note the contrast with the gift of understanding: Whereas the gift of understanding perfects faith by giving a deeper penetration into supernaturally revealed mysteries (as in our illustration above), the gift of knowledge perfects faith by giving it a deeper penetration of created things as they pertain to our last end. That distinction is important to keep in mind, especially as my present considerations hang on it.

Saint Thomas also tell us that the gift of knowledge is a divine instinct which is primarily speculative and secondarily practical.

Monsignor Charles Pope gives us some further helpful explanations in a wonderful article he wrote:

By the Gift of Knowledge the human intellect apprehends and judges created things by a certain divine instinct. The individual does not proceed by laborious reasoning but judges rightly concerning all created things by a kind of superior gift that gives an intuitive impulse. … Looked at another way, the Gift of Knowledge helps us to apply the teachings of our faith to the living of daily life, the proper usage of material creation, knowing the proper utility and value of things as well as their dangers and misuses. By it we are able to determine well what conforms to faith and what does not.

With all that in mind, we can face the fact that creation itself, as revealed to us in Holy Scripture, is generally attacked by the partizans of the Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian worldview. Therefore, on the whole and in many of its particulars, this scientistic worldview directly undermines the virtue of faith. It is, then, reasonable to postulate that the gift of knowledge will assist the believer with a sort of supernatural instinct to reject this worldview as something incongruous and not compatible with the data of revelation.

Now, from both a philosophical and theological perspective, the Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian worldview that is the overwhelmingly popular point of reference for scientists is all wrong. Aside from undermining the cosmology of faith and revelation, it is philosophically untenable, and it is also unscientific, as many are coming to realize in our day (see, e.g., the works of Dr. Wolfgang Smith and also Foundations Restored, a Catholic Perspective on Origins). But the gift of knowledge is not scientific research, nor is it deep philosophical inquiry. It is, as Monsignor Pope says, “a divine instinct,” an “intuitive impulse.” Thus it often saves the faith of wise simpletons from the assaults of learned idiots.

This scientistic worldview that we are holding up for opprobrium here, this error that the gift of knowledge can save us from, is the very Weltanschauung that informs the “scientific consensus” on COVID-19. In the absence of a Creator and a creation that is knowable, ordered, and congruous, the adherents of this false worldview see reality as just atoms slamming into each other — cruel and arbitrary natural processes happening in the void — which we men, mere hairless apes who somehow achieved intelligence, must master by our technology. Hence all the unnatural abominations imposed by these moral monsters on us “lesser men” who are not a part of their elite clique.

Under the influence of the gift of knowledge, then, we should recognize that the hype and hysteria surrounding this virus is irrational. This is especially so when we see in the phenomenon something plain to be seen: a direct attack against religion, which has robbed the faithful of their sacramental life in whole or in part for many months and for no legitimate reason.