On Faith: When faced with dire predictions of destruction, did we respond with peace, joy and the knowledge that no matter what happened, God is with us? Did we help our neighbors? Did we pray individually, as families and with others? Did I act like a disciple of Christ at the gas station, in traffic, at the grocery store? Faith, even that of a mustard seed, if it’s more than just words and piety, is what makes us strong at such times as these. Events like these are when the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be fired up and made of use to everyone around us. Faith gives us wisdom, guides our actions, inspires courage, eliminates anxiety, opens us to the needs of others and helps us to be leaders.
On Thankfulness: After the storm passed, was I an example of Christian love, mercy and gratitude? Have I been complaining and inciting others to complain about the representatives of government and meteorology, about how they exaggerated the threat once again. How they’re so unreliable? Have I been complaining about how long it’s taking to get power, get back to work, having to go back to work… etc? As followers of Christ who are called to help others see and desire a better way, we are to lead in a spirit of thankfulness. Isn’t it a huge relief that despite every indication, at the last moments, the storm shifted east and was reduced in intensity? Despite the very real damage up and down the coast, especially in the Flagler and St. Augustine areas, isn’t it a huge blessing that what was expected never arrived? Can you imagine the devastation if it had been what was expected? As bad as the world can be sometimes, and as violent as people in our city can be… isn’t it incredible how little looting and vandalism occurred?
As I traveled on Saturday and was able to see what happened in other parts of our diocese, I was struck by the amount of destruction and overcome with thankfulness that it wasn’t worse. I was sad for those in South Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano Beach, who have suffered devastating loss and I was grateful that the Carmelite Monastery in Bunnell was spared. I was amazed to see Highway signs torn from the ground still attached to their cement anchors, billboards shredded like paper in my hand, and trees seized from the ground at their roots and laid waste by the wind. I was encouraged by stories of neighbor helping neighbor, especially those parishioners who came as soon as they were called, to clean up Blessed Trinity. I’m thankful that the trees outside our Church were blown away from the Church. I’m thankful for all the hard work and long hours that our first responders, government officials, hospital staff, news reporters and all the other city staff selflessly gave in order to ensure the safety and security of us all.
You may have lost something in this storm. You may have been inconvenienced during the storm. But more importantly, what are you thankful for, in the midst of the storm?
On what we do here on Sundays: We come here in recognition of our mission and to give thanks. We are a Eucharistic people, a people of ‘Thanksgiving’. We come to receive and to give. We receive the Lord in Word and Sacrament, and we give thanks. We are here to be transformed and empowered by God, who sends us out as missionaries from here to live as Word and Sacrament to the world. What we do here helps us to measure our faithfulness out there. We come to seek and to receive forgiveness for our failures and be reminded us of God’s infinite love as we receive God’s mercy. What we do here, we do in remembrance of Him, because it’s so easy to forget between Monday - Saturday that it was through suffering and death that we are saved.
On meeting my maker: Preparing for this hurricane, in many analogous ways, is like preparing for the coming of the Lord. We heard the reports of dire consequences if we didn’t get out of harms way. We heard that we must gather together what's important to our survival. We heard that we must follow instructions. We heard that we must be prepared for the worst and do everything we can to ensure that we live. Sound familiar? So do I take the exhortations of Scripture, the teachings of the Church and the guidance of my shepherds… seriously? Do I really believe that my soul may be at risk? Am I really doing what I really need to be doing in order to ensure that I live? Am I avoiding harm? Maybe I hear it all, and just figure that I’ll be just fine with a little bit of prayer, a little bit of Church and a little bit of sin. Well, sometimes we can get away with a little bit of effort and a lot of false security… like last month when we were told to get ready for a storm that never came, for us that is. Sometimes, like this weekend, we escape the worst of the predictions and we feel even more secure in doing the bare necessities. But the day will come when the Cat 5 arrives and does its worst… the day will come when your life is finished here… will you be prepared?
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.