25 March 2020, The Tablet

Lent reflection

Lent reflection

In her fifth meditation for Lent, Laurentia Johns OSB, a nun of Stanbrook Abbey, reminds us that we are all made for the Word of God, and only thrive when alive with God’s life

For what almost seems an eternity our television and smartphone screens have been filled with images of masked faces. This particular masking is, of course, a prudent practical measure in the current crisis – so why do I find the sight so unnerving? There is, surely, an element of fear. Is there something more?

Ever since we were expelled from Eden we have in some sense been trying to hide from God and from one another. “Where are you?” is God’s first question to Adam after the Fall (Genesis 3:9). Perhaps the vision of men and women wearing masks touches a deep malaise we experience as human beings made for communion but so often isolated from each other and God. Hell has been famously defined as “other people”, but isn’t isolation even more infernal?

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