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March 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — As odd as it may sound, one of the first things I did after embracing traditional Catholicism six years ago at the age of 27 was to turn off my car radio.

Up until then, whenever I got in my car, I would listen to the latest pop, classic rock, or rap songs. The question wasn’t whether the radio or CD player was going to be on. The question was simply, how loud would it be?

As I came to a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith — thanks, in part, to the writings of St. Alphonsus — the less drawn I was to the world and to what it considers music.

Songs I once relied on to get me through the ups and downs of life no longer had the same meaning. I came to see them as nothing more than catchy forms of noise pollution that, if I happened to hear them by accident, I frustratingly couldn’t get out of my head for the next 48 hours.

Eventually, I embraced the silence. If I drove somewhere, I turned the radio off and prayed, oftentimes the rosary. If I listened to anything, it was classical music or Gregorian chant.

This had an enormous impact on my spiritual life. My mind was basically freed from my obsession with the music industry’s latest up and coming “artists” and their mind-numbing songs. I slowly shifted from a naturalistic outlook to a more supernatural one that, I believe, has allowed grace to be more easily poured into my soul.

I suspect that the coronavirus outbreak is giving millions of people a chance to experience something similar to what I went through those six long years ago.

Across the world, sporting events have been canceled. Movie theaters are closed. Bars, restaurants, and casinos are shut down. People aren’t able to rely on the “entertainment” that got them through their day. Their distractions, in other words, have been cut to a minimum, and they’re no longer able to console themselves with the things that have brought them a false sense of comfort for many years.

What an enormous gift! God has essentially given to mankind a chance to enjoy the world as it is and to bask in the beauty of silence, in opposition to what Cardinal Robert Sarah has called “the dictatorship of noise.”

It’s also an occasion for millions of souls to realize that the many things they’ve been attached to are, in reality, meaningless traps that often divert their attention away from the things that really matter — faith, family, and friends.

This sort of moment doesn’t come around very often. Practically speaking, it would take millions of Christian missionaries traveling to all corners of the world to get people to start thinking about changing their lives in the way the coronavirus is forcing them to.

Unfortunately, I have a hunch that when the outbreak is over, not everyone is going to realize that many of the things they love are really just pointless addictions. Most are simply unwilling or unable to break free from the distraction-filled life they have been living. “As the dog returns to his vomit pile, so the fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).

It would be a huge step in the right direction if Americans came out of this realizing just how silly the countless trivialities our soulless culture obsesses over really are. They probably won’t, though. Many will likely look back and see this snapshot in time as a nuisance they begrudgingly tolerated instead of a moment where they joyfully embraced the penance they were forced to endure and offered it for the salvation of souls.

Whatever the case, my hope is that my fellow Americans will, as I did, turn off their car radios (and television sets) and engage in actual leisure activities and hobbies that better prepare the soul to receive the grace almighty God so desperately want to give them. Reading, cooking, painting, walking and biking, journaling, and gardening are, in my estimation, the best places to start.

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Stephen Kokx is Director of Marketing for LifeSiteNews. He previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago under the late Francis Cardinal George. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching and politics. His essays have appeared in a variety of outlets, including Catholic Family, The Western Journal, CNSNews, and Alpha News.


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