In the third act of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, the protagonist loses his mind almost completely. But he retains his exquisite sense of justice.
Lear speaks to the storm clouds and winds, and he pardons them for buffeting him. Then his friends hide him in a little room in a barn. Lear proceeds to set up an imaginary courtroom. He arraigns his back-stabbing daughters for their crimes. He speaks with pure justice–to a wooden stool and a farm dog.
…I took a walk in the woods the other day. Like many of us, I found myself in a Lear-like frame of mind. I came upon an adversary. Coronavirus Holy Week, 2020, personified.
Looked like this…
I began my accusations:
How dare you? Prohibit the annual Holy-Week gathering of us priests, for the renewal of our ordination promises?
I went on:
What gives you the right to keep the faithful people at home, with no one’s foot to wash in front of the altar at church, on Holy Thursday night?
Wait. We will have no Easter fire?! No procession with candles? What maim’d rites!
Then I grew most-grave, for the final accusation:
Iniquitous monster, Coronavirus Holy Week 2020, you will thwart the catechumens and candidates from receiving the Sacraments of Christian Initiation at the Easter Vigil?
He offered no defense. Did not even deny the charges. So I began to stone the offender. But then I recognized the cold fact that I was stoning a rock. Let’s face it: we all must resign ourselves to the mystery of Providence.
Lear put it like this, to the storm that rained down upon him:
Let fall your horrible pleasure. Here I stand, your slave.