On top of all that, the State Premier’s new Emergency Powers law is lurking in the minds of those who are concerned about his COVID-inspired power-grab. Although somewhat less harsh than originally planned, the law will take effect from December 16th and we literally don’t know what to expect. Although the government is playing up the new-found “freedom” that in reality applies only to the vaccinated, (if, indeed, constantly showing one’s vaccine pass is a sign of freedom) many thoughtful people suspect that a new state of emergency will be called immediately. That would enable Premier Andrews to fill his shiny new detention centre by purging society of anyone who dissents from the COVID narrative.
It would be tempting to think that our concerns are overblown or that the effects of lockdowns and mandates are isolated, so I’ve put together a snapshot of some of the stresses and strains being experienced in the leadup to Christmas among people known personally to me.
According to the authorities, Victoria’s first 500 beds will be available by the end of this year with another 500 ready by February. In all, there are eleven official detention centres either built or under construction around the nation, potentially holding thousands of anti-vaccination dissidents. Those, like me, with any kind of political profile are already mentally arranging the furniture in their future detention cells.
It would be tempting to think that our concerns are overblown or that the effects of lockdowns and mandates are isolated, so I’ve put together a snapshot of some of the stresses and strains being experienced in the leadup to Christmas among people known personally to me: the effects on their lives are physical, financial, psychological and spiritual.
This article appears in the Christmas issue of The Remnant Newspaper.
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One friend, for example, is experiencing something that is being repeated in thousands of families here and all over the world: she has been ostracized by her family for refusing to be inoculated. Along with her husband and children, she has been told that she is not welcome at the homes of her parents or siblings unless they have been vaccinated. My friend has been unceremoniously locked out of her own family for Christmas.
Another friend has lost her job in a school due to the mandates. Instead of an amicable agreement to cancel the employment contract, her employer wants to terminate her on the grounds that my friend is unable to fulfill her obligations. Nothing could be further from the truth, as she loves her job, and there were no mandates when she accepted the position. Perhaps the school’s stance is an indication of the tenuous legal grounds under which employers are operating when enforcing the mandates. Both my friend and her husband are now without work due to the vaccine mandates.
The widespread suffering I’m hearing about isn’t limited to what people are experiencing themselves; others are feeling disempowered by witnessing their loved ones experiencing distress.
Another friend says her Christmas will be very quiet as she and her husband will be caring for his parents. Both parents have recently had to go into care homes, as their health has declined significantly since their COVID vaccinations. The elderly couple had been coping at home with relatively mild conditions; since their inoculations, both have fallen multiple times and their other conditions have worsened alarmingly.
This friend has her own vaccine injury to deal with as well: she took one shot under extreme duress; collapsed and was hospitalized. She is now on blood thinners for clots in her lungs and has lost partial vision in one eye. Under government regulations, her exemption from the second shot is for a mere three months. Despite having such serious and life-threatening adverse effects, she will have to submit herself to the second dose and further boosters if she wishes to continue working to help pay her mortgage.
The widespread suffering I’m hearing about isn’t limited to what people are experiencing themselves; others are feeling disempowered by witnessing their loved ones experiencing distress. One medical professional I know is going through the agony of watching what is happening to her adult children. She says she feels totally helpless now that her daughter has been sacked from her thirteen-year paramedic career. To make matters worse, that daughter’s eight-year-old child tested positive to COVID so the family went into isolation. After nine days, their ten-year-old tested positive so another fourteen-day quarantine started. My friend is concerned that, as the virus moves through the family, another of them will test positive, resetting the quarantine ad infinitum. Either way, their Christmas will sadly be spent in isolation.
I will not be able to attend Christmas Mass, no one will be buying any presents…Christmas will only live in our hearts this year.
She writes, “Of course they can’t even go Christmas shopping, not that they would have been able to because the parents aren’t jabbed and are therefore banned from shops. It feels surreal a lot of the time. I have NO idea what Christmas will look like.”
Political activists also have some serious concerns on their minds at this time: one Freedom rally organiser and host of a popular YouTube channel said he fully expects to be arrested as soon as the new law is enacted. This concern is not hubris but is a reality for many in the state. The prominent activist, Monica Smit, sent sent me her thoughts about this Christmas:
“I have never known a more uncertain Christmas time. Our Premier can literally stop Christmas if he wants to. The constant anxiety has taken over any Christmas spirit one used to have.
“Our country is in emotional turmoil. Families have been divided, children are committing suicide and thousands of people have lost their jobs due to the mandates. People are stuck in quarantine camps against their will and unable to be with their family. The media has encouraged unvaccinated family members to be uninvited to Christmas celebrations. Unvaccinated people cannot go to Christmas carol events or attend work Christmas parties.
“On January 10th, they will start vaccinating 5-year-olds based on a PROVISIONAL approval. In Melbourne, a woman recently set herself and her car on fire with a note that said “NO ONE CARES…the mandates are killing us.
“For me personally, my family and friends are not together anymore. We will not be spending the holiday season together. Many have fled the state in fear of Daniel Andrews’ new pandemic laws, some are too anxious to leave the house and our ability to enjoy ourselves and socialise has been gone for many months now.
I am on bail, even though I am not a criminal. This puts me in a constant state of fear that the police (government) will knock on my door and take me away any minute.
I will not be able to attend Christmas Mass, no one will be buying any presents…Christmas will only live in our hearts this year.”
There are others who also have charges hanging over their heads, like my Catholic friend whose home was raided by the police a few months ago. At seven in the morning, police stunned his wife who was feeding her baby while her children prepared for school; the house was searched and charges laid against the father for his involvement in a Freedom rally that had happened weeks before during a lockdown. The thought of my friend’s looming court battle with potentially huge fines if he loses is overshadowing their family’s preparations for Christmas.
While situations like these are traumatic for all those involved, there is one aspect of this whole scenario that is often overlooked, even by Catholics. That is the spiritual toll taken by the lockdowns, the mandates and by the omnipresent spirit of fear.
Priests have described their shock at the inability of some of their parishioners to cope with the stress of lockdowns. They have told me that even Catholics who appeared to have good marriages and a strong faith found it very difficult to cope when they were forced to stay at home with their families 24-7.
The fallout from being denied the sacraments, particularly Confession, for months on end has been particularly devastating for those who couldn’t find a sympathetic priest. One pastor told me that he is witnessing “a spiritual catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.”
The Christmas story tells us that Our Saviour’s own parents were not spared hardship nor poverty nor anxiety and that He, Himself, was not spared an ignominious death.
His words are a timely reminder that the Church is not completely polarised between ultra-orthodox Trads and ultra-heretical Modernists: there exist Catholics over the entire spectrum of belief, many uninformed through no fault of their own, who are searching in good faith for the Desire of the Everlasting Hills. Their faith is fragile, their prayer life undeveloped: such people have borne the brunt of our shepherds’ failure to pastorally provide for their flocks over the last two years.
For those of us who do have a mature faith, however, the greatest challenge lies in our response to the madness that surrounds us. Family breakdowns, financial stress, health and legal problems, threats of detention: these are all serious situations. But through all of that we must hold on to our greater purpose, which is to attain personal sanctity, to remain virtuous when we are surrounded by immorality.
Someone recently passed on to me the wise words of his mentor: he said that the greatest tragedy from this whole pandemic would be that we have not utilised this time to become holy.
This is the true message of Christmas in 2021: not that we will soon be back to normal or that God has some sort of obligation to protect us from the worst of the coming chastisement. Rather, the Christmas story tells us that Our Saviour’s own parents were not spared hardship nor poverty nor anxiety and that He, Himself, was not spared an ignominious death.
So we must cling to the thought that He will be with us through it all and that we must accept from His hand the future He has chosen for us as the means of our sanctification. To do other than correspond to the graces Jesus earned for us is surely the greatest tragedy of all.
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