Outbreak of cattle disease in England has deep spiritual connotations
It came like a thunderclap. First there was the earthquake in Seattle -- on Ash Wednesday -- and since then fears have gripped the world of a livestock outbreak. It started in England and has now reached to France and Argentina and no one is sure where else: foot-and-mouth disease, a highly contagious virus that's not fatal to humans but could wipe out whole food supplies. In England alone hundreds of thousands of animals are being burned to stop the spread. "Across Europe, Asia, and the Americas, nations scrambled to keep foot-and-mouth disease from their herds," reported Reuters over the weekend. Although protests have slowed it, the British government last week announced a plan to kill up to 200,000 or even a million pigs and sheep, for this is a disease that can spread on shoes, car ties, and even in the wind, causing blisters and lameness in animals with hooves.
If that isn't enough, England has also been the source of mad-cow disease -- less likely to cause a global pandemic but more feared because this disease can infect (and kill) humans.
The "coincidences" have been nothing less than astounding. First there is the fact that the epidemics have reached full throttle during Lent -- and the recent incineration of potentially infected sheep took place on the historic site of a slaughter of pagans. "From the sign, you look across to Howend Farm, where the mass graves have been alight for the past week, sometimes blazing, sometimes smoldering," reported a British newspaper called The Guardian.
Here's another sign of the times: One of the animals quarantined is the first cloned sheep, Dolly.
And if that isn't enough of an irony -- if that isn't enough to get the point across -- there's the fact that in Ireland fear of the disease caused cancellation of festivities on St. Patrick's Day.
It was St. Patrick who drove the snakes and pagans from Ireland -- who stopped human sacrifice -- but now those old practices, in modern guise, have resurrected. Church attendance in England (and for that matter surrounding countries) is plummeting. There is increasing societal licentiousness. Last weekend came the report of a new English game show in which a couple had sex on camera.
"It is worth noting that some people in charismatic circles, especially among the Protestants, believe we are becoming a nation under judgment," wrote one of our correspondents in the United Kingdom. "Several members of the Royal Family have occult or New Age leanings. Prince Charles has plenty of New Age ideas and is even said to have consulted a medium not to mention his flaunting of his mistress. Several members of the Royal Family are freemasons -- the Duke of Kent is the most senior UK mason. Even Queen Victoria dabbled in seances. The Catholic Church in England is in the grip of a liberal tyranny which has overseen its decline."
The situation is even worse in the Church of England. Recently the Bishop of Durham made headlines for saying he didn't believe in the virgin birth or physical resurrection of Christ, and there is even an organization of vicars and priests (some Catholic) who have proclaimed themselves atheists! Only 27 percent in England attend church once a week (as compared to 44 percent in the U.S.), at the same time that nearly 2,000 women have become priests -- and now say they are fending off sexual advances by male clergy.
The lack of devotion has reached right to the top as more and more of England's historic parish churches plan to allow telecommunications companies to put mobile phone antennae on their spires! Homosexuality has likewise been allowed.
There is simply a lack of general religious observance, and if we don't think that's dangerous, recall that at LaSalette, France, the Virgin Mary warned that missing Mass, working on Sunday, and using the name of Jesus as a curse would bring disease, failure of the potato crop, and a "great famine."
That very year was the beginning of a famous potato famine in both France and Ireland.
How does this relate to the current epidemic in livestock? Does it really tie into God's displeasure with our lack of penance?
"No one observes Lent," the Virgin of LaSalette had also pointedly complained. "They go to the meat market like dogs."
(For disasters in pagan times click here)
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