COVID-19 fear may be gripping many again, but we must not be paralysed by it – Bishop Leahy
Sunday 10 January 2021: Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that while it is important to respond appropriately to the torrent of COVID-19 fear crashing over the country, we must not be paralysed by it.
In his weekend statement, Bishop Leahy said that with the rapid and huge surge in the COVID-19, a “virus of fear is beginning to take hold alongside Covid-19”.
However, while we must respect and respond to this, Bishop Leahy said that there is a risk that it leads to wider complications beyond the virus itself, not least in the area of mental health.
“It is important to recognise and acknowledge this. Fear, of course, can be positive. It can make us literally run for shelter in the best sense and do our utmost to lockdown, avoid COVID-19 ‘like the plague’, as our English expression puts it from experience.
“But fear can often have a negative effect. It can consume and paralyse us. Our thinking, decision-making, emotions and interactions with others can be negatively impacted. Our mind finds itself straying to ‘what if…’ scenarios. Worst case scenarios,” he said.
“The sad reality is that for many, that scenario has tragically played out. But we do need to guard against the virus of fear, especially among those who are vulnerable to depression or addiction or instability in character. When fear begins to consume us, polarization in conversations and actions can take over and family and political dynamics injured.”
Quoting the short sentence “Love casts out fear” from the one of the letters of St. John, he said: “It is worth inoculating ourselves with this vaccine daily, repeating to ourselves regularly: ‘love casts out fear’. Not a sentimental superficial love but the robust love that looks reality in the eyes, names it for what it is, but then decides not to be paralysed by it but rather actually do something that can make a difference.”
Bishop Leahy said that it is so important right now to keep on building up community by contacting others, especially those prone to anxiety. “Regular contact, upbeat humour, conversation, underlining good news stories – all of this helps cast out fear.
“Ultimately, let’s help each other to take shelter in God who knows how to draw good out of even the most frightening situations. We are in God’s hands. Simple moments of prayer, on our own or together with others, are also key components of the vaccine of love that casts out fear. Well worth trying.”